Monday, August 26, 2013

Guest Author: They Might Be Giant's Kid's Albums ...


I asked my sister to write a review of The Might Be Giants kid's albums (Here Come the A B C's and Here Come the 1, 2, 3s) about numbers and letters in an attempt on getting a mom who is actively momming a 3 year old (she has her own blog about raising her wonderful daughter here).  Well, I sent her the CD's and then called her, slightly inebriated and said she had to write an article.  I was shocked when she said "yes" and this is what she sent:

To: Brent
From:  Betsy

DISCLAIMER FOR YOUR READERS:  I have no business writing anything in a blog for audiophiles.  When I am listening to music, it's mostly in my car.  My car that has the same CD player in it as when I bought it back in 2001.  I haven't even learned how to properly use the equalizer on the damn thing.  And I really don't have any business writing a music review.  I have no musical training whatsoever.  I don't even play an instrument.  Also, I've never written a review before.  So, the only qualifications I have to be writing this review are 1) I am the mother of a three-year-old, and 2) I am Brent's sister.  Yep, this is nepotism.  My brother is a nepotist.  I'm so proud.  The whole family is, really.

[Betsy, yes this is nepotism in its rawest form except it usually involves a real job, and this ... is a blog.  But a few things - CD players are a solid step up from MP3 players, which is great.  You shouldn't be using an equalizer anyway so ignorance is your friend, and as far as instruments, I maintain you play a mean CD.  Seriously]

When you're a parent, you end up listening to a lot of music geared toward people who can’t yet read.  Nuances in the melodies, tones, or the lyrical language are lost on them.  Much of kid’s music is boring and repetitive, so I’ve learned to lower my standards.  What I consider "good" kid’s music is the stuff that doesn’t make me want to slit my own throat.  Yes, we here in parenthoodville set the bar pretty low. 
 
Was it this one?  NoooOOOOoo...
Truth be told?  I would not have purchased this album on my own.  My daughter, Iris, has a healthy appreciation for music that isn’t geared towards kids because, generally speaking, I hate kid’s music.  So, I just won’t play it for her.  Which probably makes me a bad mother.  But, hey, Iris sings along and car dances to my music quite happily – everything from Stephen Sondheim to Queen.  I don’t need to torture myself with the kiddie crap.

But then my brother, Brent, decided to ruin my entire life by, out of the blue, sending me copies of Here Come the ABCs and Here Come the 123s and then guilting me into writing reviews so I would have to listen to them.  He was probably giggling when he and his wife, Kathy, came up with this plan. 
 
My sister and her daughter Iris - they
weren't this tranquil during the
listening session, I bet ....
Anyway, when I heard the albums were by They Might Be Giants, a small spring of hope welled up in my heart.  I loved They Might Be Giants when I was in college.  I ruined my cassette tape of their album Flood by playing it too much.  I have the fondest of memories of singing along with “Birdhouse in Your Soul” at the top of my lungs in the car while driving around with my friends…”Not to put too fine a point on it / Say I’m the only bee in your bonnet / Make a little birdhouse in your soul.”  Come on!  Catchy tune, fun and creative lyrics, just weird enough that our parents didn’t get it at all.  They Might Be Giants were Awesome!

And then Brent sent me Here Come the ABCs and I played the CD in my car while Iris and I were running errands and it made me want to throw myself down on my knees hyperbolically pleading with the sky like someone whose just lost the love of their life in a bad television movie: “WHY??? WHY, THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS, WHY??? I LOVED FLOOD!!!  WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS TO ME WHEN I LOVED FLOOD SO MUCH????”



Was my reaction a bit extreme?  Maybe a little.  Shut up.  I hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before and I’d had to watch several episodes of Dora the Explorer that morning, which always sets me on edge (if you’ve ever had to see an episode of Dora, you understand.  If you haven’t….I am jealous.), and do you know how challenging going to the grocery store with a three-year-old is?   



Unreviewed ... she didn't have the
heart for it ....
Now, keep all that in mind when you imagine listening to a song where the lyrics are mostly just letters being sung repeatedly.  No.  Really.  I’m serious.  Don’t believe me?  Here’s a sampling:

Track 2: “Go, go, go, go for G! / Go, go, go, go for G!”
Track 3:  “Q U, Q U / Quack, quack, quack, quack / Q U, they’re often a pair.”
Track  16: “L / L M / L M N/ L M N O/ Ohhh / L M N O / L M N O/ Ohhh / L M N O / Yeah / L M N O”

And track 20 is just They Might Be Giants singing the alphabet backwards.  Literally.  That’s the WHOLE song.  It’s enough to send me into the corner to rock myself and weep.  And Iris’s opinion?  “Nooooooo Mama!  Not that one!!!  I don’t waaaaant thaaaaaaaat song!!!!” 

What happened, They Might Be Giants?  Was it the money?  Was that what it was?  Was that why you abandoned me?  Was that why I have to close and shutter the birdhouse in my soul?  Or was it the challenge?  Even with the standard of “good” kids music being so very, very low, did you want to see if you could limbo under it?


Brent asked me to review Here Come the 123s, too, but I couldn’t; I was too sad to listen to it.  Thanks, Brent.  Thanks A LOT.

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