Eli’s birthday CD, a little late

Every year, since Eli turned one, I’ve done a birthday compilation CD as a party favor. I put on whatever music has been living on repeat during the previous year, and I record the birthday boy doing whatever he is doing at the time (for Henry’s fourth birthday, he told a bunch of knock-knock jokes, for instance). Since Eli opted not to have a birthday party this year, I got lazy on the CD and only just finished it last week. For those of you interested in what a 3-year-old considers good music, here’s what’s on it:

  1. “New England” by Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers. How did I not realize in high school that Jonathan Richman is really just kid’s music? This comes from Modern Lovers Live! which has such supposed adult songs as “I’m a Little Dinosaur,” “Hey There Little Insect” and also “I’m a Little Airplane” which is on the birthday CD as track 13. Anyway, this is a very catchy song, and hey, it’s about where we live!
  2. “1234” by Feist. This was the first track on loyal reader Paticus’s daughters’ third-birthday CD. There must be some 3-year-old code, or language, or, I don’t know, something, but the first two songs were Lillian and Ramona’s favorites, and it took us days to make it past those first two songs. Eli just wanted them again and again and again. The other was “Yellow Submarine.”
  3. “The Old Hen” by Pete Seeger. From Birds, Beasts, Bugs, and Fishes, which is maybe the most important CD in our house. It gets listened to every day. For Henry, lover of Pete Seeger and of all things animal, this CD is a holy thing.
  4. “A Horse with No Name” by America. You all know why this is on here.
  5. “Dig Dig Digging” by Eli. From the book.
  6. “Freeway” by Aimee Mann. The first song on @#%&*! Smilers. I love it as much as he does.
  7. “Pierre” by Eli. I’m so glad I got a few audio clips of Eli being Eli. These are such a snippet of how he sounds every day, wandering around the house. He’s such a goofball.
  8. “Fujiyama Mama” by Wanda Jackson. Oh good grief I’m so sick of this song. It was on a Mother’s Day compilation from Henry’s old preschool. Eli loves it deeply.
  9. “She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain” by Pete Seeger. Can’t really go wrong here, though it gets really tedious on the 40th listen.
  10. “Ten Degrees and Getting Colder” by Nanci Griffith. Somehow Other Voices, Other Rooms is a kids’ album, at least in this house. The boys love it all, and at least one track turns up on every birthday CD.
  11. “1952 Vincent Black Lightning” by Richard Thompson. Eli’s second birthday compilation was the only one so far with a theme (Cars and Trucks and Things that Go). I forgot to put this song on, so it ended up on the third birthday CD. A song about a motorcycle, always a winner with Eli.
  12. “I Love Trucks” by Eli. You’ve heard this before too.
  13. “I’m a Little Airplane” by Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers. Eli informed me this morning that now he hates this song. Oh well. I think he was kidding, but I’m not really sure.
  14. “The Elephant” by Pete Seeger. Eli likes this song because the refrain is “Don’t sleep, don’t sleep, don’t sleep!”
  15. “Yellow Submarine” by the Beatles. Not a bad song, per se, but it’s been days and days and days of it, and it’s not as easy to tune out as “Horse with No Name.”
  16. “The Foolish Frog” by Pete Seeger. The only song so far that is a repeat from a previous birthday compilation. I wasn’t going to include it for that reason, but Eli vehemently insisted. Also, it’s probably his most favorite song in the entire world, so I guess it’s worth including.
  17. “Do You Know the Choo Choo Train” by Eli. More Eli goofiness. It all makes perfect sense to him.
  18. “Wimoweh” by Nanci Griffith. Eli refers to this song as “The Guys Singing Together.”
  19. “Thomas Gets Bumped/Grinch Medley” by Eli. Wackiness. But apparently catchy, as Henry has been singing this since we made the CD.

Comments (12)

  1. sarah March 3, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    I am now realizing that we are a seriuosly Pete Seeger deprived household.

  2. Julie March 3, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    If I could have only one musician for the kid CDs, it would be Pete Seeger. You’ll get more when you get more of our birthday compilations, and then you can get CDs based on those. There are roughly 50 Pete Seeger kid CDs. It can get a little overwhelming.

  3. LoriO March 3, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    1952 Vincent Black Lightning has been playing at our house for about the last 6 months, sung and played by Sean. I love that song.

  4. Pete March 3, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    Modern Lovers Live is the greatest kids album ever made. Also, what the hell kind of pre-school are you sending your kids to? These don’t seem like the kind lyrics decent folks would expose their children to:

    I’ve been to Nagasaki, Hiroshima too!
    The things I did to them baby, I can do to you!

    ‘Cause I’m a Fujiyama Mama and I’m just about to blow my top!
    Fujiyama-yama, Fujiyama!
    And when I start you up, there aint nobody gonna make me stop!

    I drank a quart of sake, smoked on a pipe!
    I chased it with tobbacy and then shoot out the lights!

    ‘Cause I’m a Fujiyama Mama and I’m just about to blow my top!
    Fujiyama-yama, Fujiyama!
    And when I start you up, there aint nobody gonna make me stop!

    Well you can talk about me, say that I’m mean!
    I’ll blow your head off baby with nitroglycerine!

    ‘Cause I’m a Fujiyama Mama and I’m just about to blow my top!
    Fujiyama-yama, Fujiyama!
    And when I start you up, there aint nobody gonna make me stop!

    Well you can say I’m crazy, so deaf and dumb!
    But I can cause destruction just like the atom bomb!

    ‘Cause I’m a Fujiyama Mama and I’m just about to blow my top!
    Fujiyama-yama, Fujiyama!
    And when I start you up, there aint nobody gonna make me stop!

    I drank a quart of sake, smoked on a pipe!
    I chased it with tobbacy and then shoot out the lights!

    ‘Cause I’m a Fujiyama Mama and I’m just about to blow my top!
    Fujiyama-yama, Fujiyama!
    And when I start you up, there aint nobody gonna make me stop!

  5. Elizabeth March 4, 2009 at 9:44 am

    What a great idea. I will do this for Isaac’s birthday. Right now, he fixates on one or two songs on the mixes I make…for a while, it was “Cornbread, Fish and Collard Greens” by Anthony Johnson, then “Ganesha Sharanam” by kirtan singer Jai Uttal. Now, it’s “Flowers on the Wall” by the Statler Brothers: “Mama, play that song about cigarettes and Captain Kangaroo – over and over and over again!” He loves the Shins, too — do you play them for your kids? One day, we were driving around town and all of a sudden, he joined in to shout: “STARVED OF OXYGEN!” It was the only line he knew, but he shouted it with conviction. Yes, one does begin to look at lyrics differently after playing the music for one’s small child.

  6. Julie March 4, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    Liz! I haven’t heard of any of those musicians, except for the Shins (which the kids do like, as do I)! I’ll have to check those out.

    Pete. I know. Seriously. I think the preschool could best be described as “wacky.” Also on the mother’s day compilation was “Mother” by the Police which is even less appropriate. I don’t know why Eli so totally latched on to Fujiyama Mama, but I was always pushing “Mother Nature’s Son,” which he really wanted no part of.

    This is also the preschool that had Heavy Metal Week and taught them — oh, what is that sort of scary Metallica song? Iron Lung or something like that? Wacky.

  7. David March 4, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    Playlist with analysis; I love this genre–thankyouthanks!

    Milo has his own playlist, and although Yellow Submarine is definitely on it, Pete Seeger is not–good idea though. Instead we have songs by our local Banjoman, who plays every Sunday at the Takoma Park farmer’s market.
    In terms of “headworms” that like burrough deep in children’s psyche (a great, generally unexplored topic worthy of further exploration IMHO), for us this came in the form of Dan Zane’s “All Around the Kitchen.” Oh dear. Just typing the words makes me shudder… with angst. After repeated playings, this delightful, seemingly harmless child’s tune gradually morphed into something like the little melody from “M” by Fritz Lang.

  8. Julie March 4, 2009 at 10:14 pm

    Ha! We are still on the good side of “All Around the Kitchen” here. A beloved tune, but one that has never been one on repeat.

    The song that makes me shudder, and I probably shouldn’t even bring this up since I just really got it out of my head after roughly three years of having it stuck there, is “Marsupial Sue” from the CD that comes with the John Lithgow book.

    You definitely need to get some Pete Seeger. I recommend the Birds & Beasts one as well as the concert for children at Town Hall in NYC.

  9. Pete March 5, 2009 at 10:55 am

    Julie, well at least they didn’t put “Mother” by John Lennon on it–that would have been a little too depressing.

    BTW, I highly recommend Elizabeth Mitchell’s kids albums. Her latest one on Folkways included a cover of “What Goes On” by the V.U. with slight lyric changes (“baby be good, do what you should”). Mostly traditional folky stuff, but very well done.

  10. Julie March 5, 2009 at 11:09 am

    Pete, they DID put “Mother” by John Lennon on it.

    Will check out Elizabeth Mitchell! I’ve never heard of her. We’re always looking for new stuff over here.

  11. Pete March 9, 2009 at 7:53 pm


    Well all that would be necessary to make it perfect would The Rolling Stones’ “Mother’s Little Helper” and a version of “Motherless Child.” Or perhaps “Insect Mother” by Robyn Hitchcock?

    You would definitely like Elizabeth Mitchell.

  12. Julie March 10, 2009 at 11:00 am

    Yes on “Mother’s Little Helper” and also Queen’s “Tie Your Mother Down.” No to “Motherless Child” and boy some Robyn Hitchcock would have majorly helped that mix CD.

    I will definitely check out Elizabeth Mitchell. Thanks!

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