How I Get My Kid to Like Cool Music

One of the cutest things ever is listening to a small child sing. It is precious. It is adorable. But let’s face it: there are only so many times one can hear “The Wheels on the Bus” before they start to feel slightly homicidal.

I made Nellie a Spotify playlist a few weeks ago and loaded it with her favorite Disney songs from Tangled, The Princess and the Frog, The Lion King, and a few other movies. She loved it so much, and it made me feel so happy to see her singing along each morning on the way to daycare.

And then I heard “When Will My Life Begin?” one too many times and wanted to dig my eardrums out with a bobby pin. So I got to thinking: how can I get my child to like cool music – the music I like? I decided I’d give the songs names that would appeal to her. Here are a few of Nellie’s favorite songs from my playlists, along with the “fun names” I gave them:

  1. Little Lion Man A.K.A. “The Lion Song”. Okay, so this might not be the most appropriate song for her to listen to (“I really fucked it up this time, didn’t I my dear?” being one of the lyrics), but it was one of the first songs I introduced her to that wasn’t sung by a chirpy-ass princess.
  2. Wake Up, Little Susie A.K.A “Wake Up Little Kitty”. Nellie is obsessed with cats. OBSESSED. She has this small stuffed cat I brought her from Chicago. One morning, she came to me and said, “Mama, tell this baby kitty to WAKE UP!” I started singing “Wake up, little kitty, wake up!”. Once we got to the car, I turned that song on and sang it like I just had and now it’s her favorite song to sing.
  3. These Boots Are Made For Walking A.K.A “A Song About Boots”. I told her it was a song about boots and started laughing hysterically at how silly that was. It worked.
  4. The Age of Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In A.K.A “The Moon Song”. “When the moon is in the seventh house, and Jupiter lines with Mars” is the first line. So I told her it was a song about the moon. I also told her that her zodiac sign is Aquarius and that the song was pretty much all about her. Which might be a lie. It’s really about hippies and probably LSD.
  5. Brand New Key A.K.A “The Rollerskate Song” Told her it was a song about rollerskates. I’m not sure she even knows what rollerskates are, but she loves this song. It is kind of awkward, though, because all I can think of when I hear this song is that one scene in Boogie Nights. I’m also relatively sure that “I’ve got a brand new pair of rollerskates, you’ve got a brand new key, I think that we should get together and try them out, you see” isn’t REALLY talking about rollerskates and the key that goes with it. AMIRIGHT?
  6. Radioactive A.K.A “The Toothless Song” This one might be my most creative. Radioactive is a song by Imagine Dragons. Nellie loves “How to Train Your Dragon”, specifically the dragon Toothless. So I told her the song was about Toothless.
    I am a liar. The song isn’t about Toothless at all.
  7. Cocaine Habit This one has no alternate name.  She just started singing it one day. Again, not the most appropriate song but Josh and I love some Old Crow Medicine Show, sooooo…… Plus, you have to admit, there is something funny about hearing a three-year-old sing “sign on the door that says ‘no more dope’!”. Or is that just me? Just me? Awesome.

The downside to this, of course, is that once she fixates on a song she insists on playing it over and over and over. The fact that these songs are ones I enjoy make hearing them on repeat slightly more tolerable than the Disney songs, but I’ve about had it with the Everly Brothers and “Wake Up Little Susie”. LET LITTLE SUSIE SLEEP FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. No more Little Susie.

What are your kids’ favorite songs?


BlogHer Book Club Review: A Good American

I had the pleasure of reviewing Alex George’s debut novel, A Good American.

A Good American is the story of Frederick and Jette, two young Germans that fall in love who, after running out of options in their home county, decide to make themselves a new future in America. The year is 1903 as they embark on the journey that will define the rest of their lives.

Frederick and Jette end up in the fictional town of Beatrice, Missouri through a series of unexpected events. There they settle and the lives of the Frederick and Jette Meiseinheimer and the lives of their descendents unfold within the pages of the book. The story goes through four generations of the family.

“Always, there was music.”
The opening line of the book immediately spoke to me.  The continuing musical theme of the book (of course I don’t mean it was literally a “musical book”, I mean music was involved in the characters’ lives from the start)  continued to hit home for me. Frederick loved music, loved singing and performing and passed that love to his descendents. I was raised in a musical family, so the way Alex George described the music and the way it made each character feel spoke to me immensely.  The characters are introduced to a wide variety of music including opera, ragtime, blues, and barbershop. The barbershop  in particular made me all gooey inside, because I have performed in a barbershop quartet.

I have to say: of all the books I’ve reviewed so far, this one was my absolute favorite. From the moment I read the first page, I was in love. The writing is beautiful, the characters wonderful, colorful, and are brought to life very well. I came to love this family of German immigrants. I cheered with them in their joys, gasped during their times of drama, and shed tears (yeah, real ones) when tragedy struck. As soon as I closed the book upon finishing the last page, I immediately opened it again and began to read from the beginning. I reluctantly parted with it to pretty much shove it at my best friend with the insistence that she read it RIGHTNOW.
A Good American has secured a space in my top ten favorite books of all-time. I highly suggest you go get a copy right now. As in, immediately. Why haven’t you gotten your copy yet? GO.

DISCLOSURE: I received both monetary compensation plus a copy of A Good American for this post as part of the BlogHer Book Club. You can read more about this book or join the discussion by visiting the BlogHer Book Club’s discussion of A Good American. I really did adore this book. These thoughts and words are 100% authentic, and 100% my own.



Current Music Obsessions {Fall 2012 Edition}

It’s been a while since my last music post. I thought I’d share a few of the songs/artists I’m currently digging as the seasons shift.

Black Prairie, “How Do You Ruin Me?”

I got this song as a free download from my Starbucks app – which, by the way, you need in your life NOW if you don’t have it already – and was incredibly surprised at how much I loved it. The track is called “How Do You Ruin Me”, and it has such a unique and funky sound I just fell in love. Not to mention awesome harmonies.

Fun., “Some Nights”

This next song is one you have probably heard on the radio. Fun. burst into the Top 40 scene with their song “We Are Young”. It was catchy but got on my nerves quickly so I kind of wrote them off until I heard another track of theirs called “Some Nights”. It quickly became one of my guilty pleasures and made its way into my iTunes library, but then a friend of mine sent me a link to this video, which is a cover by the group Walk Off the Earth. I posted their cover of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” a few months ago and just like it, this cover threatens to be better than the original. The guest singer that’s with them, Julia Nunes? Her voice is like BUTTAH.

Old Crow Medicine Show, “Wagon Wheel”

OCMS is bluegrass/country/folk…. It’s an interesting blend. I caught this track from Pandora and loved it so much, I bought it. I have listened to some more of OCMS’s music and haven’t absolutely loved it, but this track? I love to crank it up and sing along at the top of my lungs.

The Avett Brothers, “Matrimony”

The Avett Brothers is another band that I’m not 100% fangirl on yet. I love some of their tracks, and others just kind of run together in sound for me. I think they’ll end up being a band I pepper into my iTunes for some variety when I pick out the songs I like. This track, Matrimony, is another one I love to blare and jam out to in my car.

Mumford & Sons (EVERYTHING, but really this one is), “Hopeless Wanderer”

Last but not least is Mumford & Sons – a band I’ve mentioned here before. Their newest album, Babel, just came out at the end of September and since it did I have been listening to it pretty much nonstop. The songs on this album give me chills, take me to another place, and generally make me music geek out. I like Babel more than their previous album, Sigh No More, and have a hard time picking out my favorite track. But if I had to choose, it would be this one – Hopeless Wanderer.

Those are some of the tracks that I’m listening to this fall. What are your current music obessions?

Ten Things I’d Rather Do Than Listen to Nickleback

I’m back! It’s me! Hooray! I had a great time in Chicago but it’s good to be back home. As my first post back home

Ten Things I’d Rather Do Than Listen to Nickleback

We have a running joke in my office about how horrible Nickleback is and how much we all hate them. Sometimes we’ll “Rick Roll” each other with surprise Nickleback videos and then scream how much we hate the person that got us. Fun times. I decided to come up with a list of ten things I’d rather do than listen to Nickleback. Enjoy.

10. Lick an alligator on the face
9. Be stung by a jellyfish
8. Watch Freddy Got Fingered one hundred and twenty two times – in a row
7. Chew on a rock for nine hours
6. Drink a bottle of Jagermeister and then ride on a roller coaster
5. Fight a kangaroo
4. Shave my elbow skin
3. Be a door to door salesperson for toilet seats in the shape of Lady GaGa
2. Get a tattoo that says “Bieber Fever”. On my face.
1. Swan dive into a swimming pool filled with rocks, hypodermic needles, and vipers

SO, there you have it. My list of ten things I’d rather do than listen to Nickleback. May seem extreme to some, but if you are like me you’d do just about anything to never have to hear Chad Kroger’s awful voice or see his stupid hair again. One day Canada will be punished for producing the asshattery that is Nickleback. And on that day, I will point and laugh for hours

In Her Time of Dying: Music

Over ten years ago when I realized that she was never going to get better, I distanced myself from my mother for my own emotional and mental health and well-being. When she lived in Illinois and I in Tennessee, our relationship was easier because that physical proximity wasn’t an issue. I didn’t have to worry about seeing her face-to-face. Her grasp and power over me was weaker. When we lived far apart, I’d answer her calls. I’d actually pick up the phone to call her and talk about what was going on in my life. I was always hesitant and kept a margin of emotional distance for fear of making myself vulnerable to her, but our relationship was much better.

When she moved to Tennessee and began living fifteen minutes away and the physical distance between us was significantly shortened, I had to make my emotional unavailability even more pronounced and defined. I let her in even less, being very careful to not let our relationship boundaries get blurred. She wasn’t ever really capable of keeping well-defined boundaries and I had to be mindful of that.

One thing that I didn’t hide, didn’t bury, didn’t keep from her was music. I rarely shared personal things with her but when it came to music I was always eager and willing. When she would come over, I would play my chorus learning tracks for her and watch her reaction, watch for signs that she was impressed with the difficulty of music I was performing. I wanted her approval in that area. I cared about her opinion in that aspect, where in other parts of my life I could not have cared less what she thought. But I always wanted to share music with her, and was always open and receptive if she made new musical discoveries.

The other day I listened to the title track Barton Hollow from The Civil Wars’ album. This album has been out for a year, but I am just now hearing about them. I’ve heard their name more and more since their performance at the Grammy’s and on a whim, I listened to Barton Hollow on iTunes.
After hearing about five seconds of it, I downloaded it and moved on to the next track’s preview. After about five seconds of the second song, I just went ahead and downloaded the entire album.

I listened to the whole thing on my way home from work that day, marveling at how each track was more beautiful than the last. The blend of the two singers’ voices, the haunting harmonies, and the lyrics almost brought me to tears. I haven’t felt this immediately enamoured with a musical group in a very long time. As I was driving and listening to the duo sing, I felt very sad because it was precisely the type of music I would’ve loved to share with my mother. I would’ve played a track for her, watching to see her reaction and hoping she loved it just as much as I did.

I’m not sure what it was about music that felt safe to me. I suppose I perceived it as somewhat of superficial thing that she and I could connect with; something that didn’t have to go deeper than surface-level. Music can, of course, touch one’s very heart and soul but it doesn’t have to in general conversation. You can have a pleasant and enthusiastic conversation with just about anyone about your favorite bands and music that you like. Maybe that’s why it felt okay to me – because I didn’t have to delve deep into the reasons behind my liking a certain sound or artist.

My grief for my mother has been twisty and confusing. I haven’t really ever felt sad that she was gone, because as my mother she had been gone for over a decade. I’ve been grieving more over what I will truly never have in regards to a relationship with her, reliving the traumatic events of the week that she was sick, and getting over the shock of the fundamental fact that the only mother I’ve ever known is now dead.

Despite all of the confusing emotions, I miss sharing music with her. I am sad that she isn’t around to hear these beautiful melodies. I’m sad that her time to discover and enjoy new artists is gone, that the harmonies that she held so dear don’t reach her ears anymore.

The song below is performed by The Civil Wars, but it was written by Leonard Cohen… Who just happened to be one of my mother’s favorite artists.

Once More, With Feeling

My brother and his girlfriend have come to visit from Milwaukee. I haven’t seen my brother since he came down to meet Nellie back in March, when she was just 8 weeks old! It’s really exciting to have them in town and to have the company, considering we’ve been snowed in for almost a week now. I haven’t worked this entire week because the conditions on the roads have just been too damned icy. I had already planned weeks ago to take today off to visit with my brother since I see him so rarely.

Anyway, tonight I get to have a night out with my brother and his girlfriend and I could not be more excited! We’re planning on going downtown to a karaoke bar I’ve been wanting to check out for a while. I haven’t gone to karaoke in over a year. The last time I went was on my birthday in 2010. I was 11 days away from giving birth and I had a blast! If you know me, you know I absolutely love karaoke and will not hesitate to hop on stage and belt out a song. My favorite song to sing is “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree” by KT Tunstall. Some of my other staple songs are “Me and Bobby McGee”, “Landslide” (Dixie Chicks style), “Criminal”, “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” and if I’m feeling bold and my voice is in good shape that night I will sometimes sing “Fancy”.

Tonight I hope to try a new song. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the bar has it in its’ song book. I want to attempt “Glitter in the Air” by P!nk because I think it’s a beautiful song and I have been dying to sing it at karaoke for months. I hope they have it because who knows when I’m going to have another karaoke outing?

There are also songs that make me grit my teeth, roll my eyes, and wish for death when I hear them. “Picture” by Sheryl Crow and Kid Rock is one of those songs. I’d rather stab myself in the webbing between my forefinger and thumb than have to listen to that song again. “Redneck Woman” makes me want to punch a bunny. In contrast, I’m a sucker for “Don’t Stop Believin”, anything by Bon Jovi, and “You Never Even Called Me By My Name”. When I’ve had some drinks, I like to loudly sing along to those songs with the rest of the crowd.

I’m excited, but at the same time I’m nervous. I’ve found that I have more anxiety since having Nellie, especially when it comes to going out. I crave it, I love having nights out but since I’m heavier now I feel anxious and self-conscious. My hair is more difficult since having a child than it used to be. Then there are just general feelings of anxiety that I can’t quite pinpoint. It’s not that I’m anxious about being away from Nellie, I just feel.. anxious. I know once we get out I’ll have a blast and I am really looking forward to it. I just need to take a chill pill.

So that’s what I’ll be doing tonight! Singing my heart out, drinking some beers, and living it up!

What about you? Do you love karaoke? What are some of your favorite songs to sing, and are there some that you groan every time you hear?

Wordless Wednesday – Give Peace a Chance

John Lennon
10/9/1940 – 12/8/1980

P.S. Yes, I know it’s not really wordless if I post a song.. But they’re not my words, so it counts. =P