"Felt Around the World" - "We Are the World" for a New Generation

Felt Around the World coverBig news in the kindie world today as more than a dozen kindie puppets officially released a new song, "Felt Around the World," designed to raise awareness of puppet rights.  Accompanied by a video and a brand new organization -- Hand Aid -- the song is designed to make listeners aware of the inherent dignity of sock-, felt-, and cotton-based puppets both inside and outside the kindie music world.

The song is the brainchild of puppet songwriter Marion Aeder, who's written for such puppet music luminaries as Kermit the Frog, the Von Trapp Family puppets, and the version of Punch and Judy currently being performed by Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas.  "I was tired of seeing my puppet friends treated like mere toys," and wanted to give voice to the feelings all puppets have," says Aeder.

So he contacted his friend, the puppet impressario Mayor Monkey.  MayMo is best known, perhaps, as the excitable hand puppet band manager of Seattle kids music band Recess Monkey, but he also has served stints as a Public Interest Research Group organizer, and it turns out MayMo had been hearing many of the same concerns Aeder had.

West Ginger Liberty

The two puppets banded together -- Aeder providing the music and lyrics, and Mayor Monkey contacting his many compatriots in the kindie world.  For example, Socrates Monk, sock puppet manager of Australian-American kindie band The Mudcakes, was happy to join in.  Likewise, West Ginger Liberty, Princess Katie's right hand-er, puppet, also immediately said yes -- her performance on "Felt Around the World" is her first on-record singing performance.

Aeder and MayMo -- like Bob Geldof and Midge Ure, or Lionel Richie, Michael Jackson, and Quincy Jones before them -- merged an anthemic song with a cast of stars.  Unlike "Do They Know It's Christmas?" or "We Are the World," however, they didn't need to all gather in one place.  Technological advances of the past 25 years meant that they could all record in the comfort of their own... homes, and send their work into Mayor Monkey, who by this time had also managed to corral (hound? badger?) Recess Monkey into playing backup and Jarrett J. Krosoczka into contributing album art.

Enthusiasm among the kindie puppets ran high for the project, with many new kindie puppets joining in, sometimes for very personal reasons.  "Felt" participants Macho Nacho and Mouth Trumpet from Musical Stew met after being placed in Time Out after a peaceful 2004 demonstration in Medford, Oregon as the "Puppet Movement" was gaining momentum. Others, like Yosi's super-exuberant Eugene (he of the instantly memorable adlibs during the song's bridge) or Todd McHatton's Marvy had no personal tie to the project, but found themselves instantly drawn in.  (Marvy is rumored to be working on a solo record, in fact.)  And clearly it gave some puppets like The Wolf, best known for his demolition business, an opportunity to share skills he's honing with Debbie and Friends.

Felt Around the World co-mastermind Mayor MonkeyWhile the primary purpose of Hand Aid and "Felt Around the World" is to raise awareness of puppet rights, it's also going to raise money for St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital.  (All net proceeds after mixing, mastering, and Mayor Monkey's new megaphone he bought to keep everyone in line will go to St. Jude's.)  Listeners got a sneak peak of the song yesterday at Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child, Ages 3 and Up!, Saturday Morning Cereal Bowl, and Hilltown Families.  But you can purchase the song today at iTunes, Amazon (affiliate link), and CD Baby.

Or enjoy the video right here.  Remember, folks, puppets are people, too.  OK, they're puppets.  But they deserve our respect.