Review: Songs to Grow on For Mother and Child - Woody Guthrie

SongsToGrowOn.jpgThe folksinger Woody Guthrie was a prolific songwriter. Best known as the composer of "This Land is Your Land," Guthrie wrote and wrote and wrote. (Billy Bragg and Wilco combined to make two enjoyable Mermaid Avenue CDs in which they took songs from his large store of unreleased lyrics and added new melodies.) In addition to writing many songs with a more political bent, he also released a couple kids’ albums in the mid-1950s. Both these albums have been released on CD by Smithsonian Folkways records.

Guthrie’s Songs to Grown on For Mother and Child is one of those CDs. It can be a fun CD for singing along with your child(ren). The titles (“Rattle My Rattle,” “I Want My Milk,” “I’ll Write and I’ll Draw”) are pretty indicative of the CD's topical concerns. (No, I could find no references to the labor movement.) The CD says the target audience is kids age 4-6, but I think kids as young as 1 or 2 would enjoy some of the songs.

A warning, though, the production is pretty simple, with many tracks only having Guthrie’s vocals accompanied by a guitar or a shaker. (There's a reason why I prefer Elizabeth Mitchell's or Wilco's versions of Guthrie's songs -- better vocals and/or better melodies.) If you like your productions polished or you dislike folksinging, this isn’t the CD for you. Over time, the CD has received less attention in our household for those reasons. But if you are more interested in folksinging, you may just find this to your taste.