Snappsy party playlist

February 9, 2016

Pg.34 & 35_notextIn Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book), Snappsy throws a party. A party where everyone dances and laughs, eats and chats. Some kind of danceable music plays. So when we were planning the book launch parties, we thought: we should have a playlist of music that Snappsy might play!

I created a list of songs, mostly related to alligators, chickens, and food that starts with the letter P. Some of it is just danceable music that Snappsy digs.

Are you and your students/kids enjoying Snappsy? Want to throw your own Snappsy party? Get yourself some party hats, some pretzels and popcorn, and turn up the party music!


Click on this list to make it bigger, and see what all the songs are.



Eli Turns 8 (with accompanying soundtrack)

February 12, 2014

This guy is 8 now. He likes to say he’s part Bigfoot. Which he might be. Since his feet are bigger than mine.

It’s been a few years since we’ve done a birthday mix, but Eli had enough songs he’s obsessed with right now to fill an hour. Need a snapshot into the brain of my kid? Here you go. I’ve included links to the music and “Monty Python skits” by my own kids.

I’ll leave you to figure out which songs Eli heard on his own, and which songs he heard in our house from his mother who treats every day like it’s her college radio show.

1. Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepson. Yeah, ok, this song is super catchy and now I love it too. Fine.

2. Dynamite by Taio Cruz. Thank you, last year’s 4th grade talent show, for this one.

3. Something Completely Different by Henry. A Monty-Python-inspired thought piece.

4. Mickey by Toni Basil. Yeah, sorry about that.

5. Tania by Camper Van Beethoven. Good song to inspire Eli, learning fiddle.

6. Ramona’s Mustache Song by Ramona. She sang this after the boys sang their mustache song, which is number 27.

7. Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard by Paul Simon.

8. Don’t Carry It All by The Decemberists. I just blew Eli’s mind when I told him that the people singing this song also wrote Wildwood. It was a mistake on my part. Now he’ll never think I’m cool. Also, Ramona thinks this song is about cleaning up your toys. Like: don’t carry it ALL, just carry whatever you can, bird by bird, to the toy box, until it’s clean, or until you throw a tantrum and get put down for a nap or whatever.

9. Britches Full of Stitches by Eli. I share this link, telling you that Eli hasn’t been playing fiddle for that long. I love these clips for what they’ll be later, when he’s better.

10. Rudie Can’t Fail by The Clash. Eli says, “I thought this song was total nonsense and gibberish until I listened to it more.”

11. Pressure Drop by The Specials.

12. Little Red Caboose by Zuzu. I think she’s supposed to be singing? It’s more of a monotone rap, really.

13. Bad Coffee by Ed’s Redeeming Qualities.

14. I Want Candy by Bow Wow Wow.

15. It’s the End of the World As We Know It and I Feel Fine by R.E.M. I already said this somewhere, but I felt like I could check of some little parenting box when I taught Eli the importance of yelling, “Leonard Bernstein!” during this song.

16. Girls Just Want to Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper.

17. Finale from Bedknobs and Broomsticks. Eli considers this scene in Bedknobs and Broomsticks to be the finest scene in the history of movies.

18. Bonnie Tammie Scolla by Eli. Another fiddle song. Henry sings on this one.

19. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious from Mary Poppins.

20. The ABCs by Ramona. It’s like she’s learning nothing in preschool.

21. Who Shot the Bartender? by Eli and Henry. This is audio evidence of our failure as parents. Our kids think British accents, bartenders, and guns are funny. I’m sorry. (I do super love Henry’s British Lady accent, though.) (And the part where he yells, “Avocado!”) (Ok, fine, I also maybe think this is audio evidence of our parental success. It’s hard to know.)

22. Vieux Amis by Victoria Williams. Another good fiddley song.

23. Friday I’m in Love by The Cure.

24. If I Should Fall from Grace with God by The Pogues.

25. The Lovecats by The Cure.

26. Little Red Caboose by Ramona. Her version of this, 12 seconds after hearing Zuzu’s version.

27. The Mustache Song by Eli and Henry. They’re justifiably proud of making this one up.



Henry’s Flute Recital

May 7, 2012

So it was just about a year ago that I said, “Henry, I really want you to decide on an instrument you like so you can start taking lessons” and he said, “Oh, I already know what I want to play! The harp!” At which point I tried really hard not to burst out laughing, and also tried hard to erase the mental image of Henry trapped under a harp, since he weighs as much as a sparrow.

But luckily he had a second choice: the flute. And even better, we found an awesome teacher, Carl Dimow. Last night was Henry’s first recital. He was very first on the program, and it was so fun to sit back and watch all the other people Carl teaches and get Henry inspired for all the different kinds of flute music he can play.

“Are you nervous, Henry?” I asked a few minutes before it started. “No!” he said with surprise. “I’m so excited!”

Here it is:



Street Jam

November 17, 2011

You have to love your neighborhood when you look out the window to see your neighbor and his dad playing guitars and singing on the street (“It’s something we wanted to do, and we thought we’d better try it out here first.”) They Pied Pipered the neighborhood kids around them, and Eli happily joined in to “play” his guitar. You’ll see Eli has the moves down, but that he does not yet understand that his left hand needs to be doing stuff too.

Sorry about the massive wind noise. It was windy.



Thinking about possibly one day acquiring some kind of updated music format

February 14, 2011

So today I was lamenting how trashed all our kids CDs are (scratched and skipping), but also how much the kids love playing CDs, and how much better it is that they can skip from song to song, versus our minivan situation, which involves me fast forwarding or rewinding through cassette tapes to get to the requested song, while driving (yes, yes, I know, I should just tell them to be quiet and listen, that they’re lucky they get to hear anything at all, but sometimes I give in).

And I actually had this thought: “CDs are so great, so much easier for kids than cassettes or vinyl, I guess that’s why music hasn’t progressed past that at all. I wonder what the next format will be.” And then I was embarrassed, even though I was all by myself and these thoughts were in my own head. Where have I been? Um, yeah, I think there’s something newer out there, Julie.

So my question is, what format do you have for your kids’ music? Do you still have CDs? I often will download songs for them, and then I have to burn them on a CD, because we don’t have an MP3 player (which is why I forgot they exist). But is there some kind of giant, child-friendly MP3 player that I could put all their music on, and they could find the songs they want to listen to without help? Does everyone except for me skip the CD burn entirely, and just plug their MP3 player into some kind of speaker system? Thoughts, please!

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My very own birthday CD

March 31, 2010

Every year (since Eli turned 1, at least), I make the boys a CD on their birthdays. It has all their favorite songs of the year, plus bits of them singing or telling jokes or just babbling. A few weeks ago I realized I had amassed a bunch of free downloads that I loved or found songs on Pandora that I loved, and that maybe it was time to make myself a birthday CD (without, however, me singing or telling jokes). Basically I just wanted to listen to all these good new songs in the kitchen while making dinner.

Here’s what I’ve got:

1. Belated Promise Ring – Iron & Wine. Oh, I love this song. This song is the whole reason I made the CD, really. I got this as a free download at some point, and just wanted to listen to it over and over. Only took me about 700 listens to realize it’s about a guy who is in love with his lesbian friend.

2. Longform – The Dodos. Another free download. Somehow I can never remember how this song goes, but when I’m listening to it, it seems like the catchiest thing ever.

3. I Don’t Know What It Is – Rufus Wainwright. Love this. I have absolutely no idea what it’s about. Mysterious bruises? Trains? Trying to get your life in order? Love it anyway.

4. All My Days – Alexi Murdoch. Dave and I watched “Away We Go” wondering how there could be so many Nick Drake songs we’d never heard before. Turns out it was Alexi Murdoch. I like the whole soundtrack, but this is my favorite song.

5. Stray Age – Daniel Martin Moore. A guy and a guitar. I’ll confess I’ve never actually listened to the lyrics. Could be about eating high fructose corn syrup for all I know.

6. Willow TreeChad VanGaalen. Guy with falsetto, singing about death. This song sounds like 70% of the songs I played on my radio show in college.

7. Hallelujah – Rufus Wainwright. I think I tried to download this song once, and you had to buy the whole Shrek soundtrack to get it, so I didn’t. But then it showed up as a free download on Amazon. I love this song, as well as the original, as well as pretty much every other version I’ve ever heard. Leonard Cohen is a god.

8. Hideaway – The Weepies. Who are The Weepies? If all their songs are this good, I need a whole album.

9. Friends – Lightning Love. A peppy little song about binge drinking and blackouts.

10. Hug the Harbour – Emma Pollock. Hypnotic and Beth Orton-y.

11. Turn Cold – Cut Off Your Hands. This song doesn’t quite go with the others, but it sounds like the Cure and New Order, and therefore I nostalgically love it.

12. Astair Matt Costa. Oh, this is a good one. I want to sing the refrain all day long, but it’s one of those songs that I’m not actually good at singing out loud very well. Ah, well.

13. 10,000 Stones – Adrianne. This song sounds a little like the music from a pharmaceutical ad, or maybe the theme song for an hour-long drama about women in their 40s. But maybe that’s the mindset I’m in right now. I like it.

14. Comin’ Up RosesZeile August. Zeile is a bona fide friend of mine. When she made her first album, Orion’s Belt, I was suddenly gripped by an unnatural fear that I would hate it. What do you do when a really good friend of yours makes an album you don’t like? But within four notes of the opening song, I knew all would be ok. “Comin’ Up Roses” is from her second album (Lucie’s Hobo Package) — I first heard the song when I went to hear her at what used to be Javanet. Afterwards I think I said something semi-coherent like, “I really liked that song about Papa not believing in magic” and she remembered that, and months later when the CD came out told me it opened with that song I liked (note that it’s the opening song because it’s a great song, not because I like it). I like all the songs, honestly, but “Comin’ Up Roses” and “Big Red Truck” from the first album are my perennial faves. I am especially loving the line in this one lately about “Give me a drink of water/or maybe something stronger.” Sounds good. New CD out in April! Can’t wait!

15. Buckets of Rain – Redbird. This was one from Pandora. I am usually massively against Bob Dylan covers, because, I mean, come on, are you really going to do better? But something about this one I really, really liked. After I downloaded it, I saw that Redbird is a band with Kris Delmhorst in it, who is not a bona fide friend of mine, but she is someone I’ve met in person before, and she’s super duper nice, plus I like her music. Anyway.

16. You and I – Ingrid Michaelson. How can you not love a song with the chorus, “Let’s get rich and give everybody nice sweaters and teach them how to dance”?


Eli is 4! Annotated birthday CD list

February 9, 2010

Today Eli is finally 4. Three seemed to last forever, I tell you. I can’t believe there’s still another year-and-a-half until he goes to kindergarten. I feel like he’s going to have a full beard by then.

He’s been on a bit of a tear lately, pulling the same outrageous behavior he pulled before Christmas. Basically being awful and knowing it. I think it’s the build-up, and the knowledge that he has to wait just a little more to get presents (he was most excited about getting the Mighty World Fire Brigade from my mom).

He was fairly dictatorial about the songs that went onto his birthday CD this year. He demanded that they all be “loud” and that his “band could dance to them” (no, I don’t know exactly what/who is band is). Yesterday, after I had the CD pretty much done, he listened to it and axed half the songs, so I had to scramble to come up with some new ones that met his requirements (or end up giving everyone a 20-minute CD).

Here’s what made the cut:

1. Railroad Man – Eli. This is Eli singing a song that Laura sings in By the Shores of Silver Lake. Turns out that our completely-made-up tune is a lot more exciting than the actual tune.

2. Let Them All Talk – Elvis Costello. Eli says about this song: “I love it so much I can’t stop dancing!”

3. Iko Iko – The Belle Stars. This was on a mix tape that an old college friend (Krista Weaver, where are you?) made for me a million years ago. Eli heard it and was instantly smitten.

4. Song of the Troll – Eli and Henry. From the Gnomes book, as you all heard yesterday.

5. Ford Econoline – Nanci Griffith. A rockin’ song about a big van. Can’t go wrong in Eli’s book.

6. Paddy on the Railway – Daisy Nell and Cap’n Stan. This is one of two songs that Eli wanted but I initially resisted because they’re on other birthday CDs. But after he nixed a bunch of songs yesterday, I went ahead and put them on.

7. Old Man Tucker – Eli and Henry. Another song from Little House. I think this one may have been in Little House on the Prairie. Henry dutifully memorized all the words, taught it to Eli, and now they will randomly break into it, like when we were waiting for an appointment at the ultrasound place. I have no idea what the other people in the waiting room thought, but they all ignored it, believe it or not. And Henry and Eli were singing loud. My favorite part in this version is when Henry keeps singing at the end, and Eli tells him to stop, because “We just don’t sing it over and over again,” and Henry says, “Oh yeah.”

8. Old Man Tucker – C&B Media Chorus. A “real” version of the song, so people who heard track 7 know from whence it came.

9. I’ve Been Workin’ on the Railroad – Eli and Henry. Not surprisingly, one of Eli’s favorite songs. I like Eli’s indecision about what to sing at the beginning of this one.

10. I’ve Been Workin’ on the Railroad – Pete Seeger. Eli’s preferred version.

11. Whistling in the Dark – They Might Be Giants. I maintain that TMBG’s non-kid albums are just as kid-friendly as their children’s albums. In fact, my kids prefer the older, “adult” albums.

12. Mice Gingerbread – Eli. Why is this called Mice Gingerbread? I have no idea. He made up the whole thing on the spot.

13. Twist and Crawl – The English Beat. I’m not sure how he stumbled across this one, but it’s such an Eli song.

14. Town Called Malice – The Jam. Greatest Dance Song Ever.

15. Railroads Are Famous – Eli. Another improvised song, featuring some creative rhyming.

16. Happy-Go-Lucky Me – Paul Evans. A few months ago we happened to catch a funny song on “Down Memory Lane” which is probably my least-favorite local public radio show (the DJ plays songs that were hits 50 years ago this week, 40 years ago this week, etc., but he also reads headlines, and I always tune in as he’s reading something like, “Bay of Pigs a Major Concern” and it confuses me). Anyway, the song we heard sounded like the Chipmunks doing some sort of jazz scat, but a search when we got home yielded nothing. Finally I called the radio station, and the song wasn’t by the Chipmunks, but was by a rival Chipmunks group called The Nutty Squirrels. The kids loved the song, and the only place I could find it was on the “Pecker” soundtrack, and I had to buy the whole soundtrack to get the one song. Turns out the “Pecker” soundtrack is half a children’s album (like “In the Mood” sung by clucking chickens) and half completely child-inappropriate (“Don’t Drop the Soap (for Anyone but Me)”). The Nutty Squirrels song was one of the ones Eli decided yesterday he didn’t want, but “Happy-Go-Lucky Me” is one of the ones from that album that survived.

17. Anxious – The Housemartins. Basically this one was me enforcing my high school/college music tastes on my brood.

18. Stay Out of the South – Light Crust Doughboys. A surprise dark horse candidate, added yesterday morning. Every single time we listen to WMPG, Eli says, “I want this on my birthday CD” and then of course I totally forget, or the DJ never says what it is. Yesterday we were listening to South by Southwest (DJed by Portland’s very own Lincoln Peirce!), and I was starting to get nervous about Eli wanting to delete half the songs on the CD, so I payed more attention when he said he liked a song. And luckily this one was on iTunes.

19. I’m a Nut – Leroy Pullins. Another track from “Pecker.”

20. Old MacDonald – Eli and Henry. To all of you who are to receive a copy of this CD, let me now wholeheartedly apologize for this track, which goes on about six verses too many (in the great tradition of “Old MacDonald” whenever it’s sung).

21. Whammer Jammer – J. Geils Band. Another great dance song.

22. A Cowboy Needs a Horse – Fess Parker. When Dave is forced to play horsie with the children, he sings this song. For years I thought he made it up. Not only did he not make it up, but it’s even been done by Disney.

23. Vwa-pah (Zuzu Kiss) – Zuzu. You all know about Zuzu and her vwa-pahs. She really wanted to do something with the microphone, but then, when given the opportunity, would only nod at it. We finally got her to do this.

24. Foolish Frog – Pete Seeger. Eli’s most favorite song in the whole world. It’s been on birthday CDs before, but he really, really wanted it again. So here it is.


Happy 90th Birthday, Pete Seeger!

May 3, 2009
photo from the Poughkeepsie Journal

photo from the Poughkeepsie Journal

Happy birthday, Pete Seeger! I would just like to personally thank Pete Seeger for creating music that continues to enthrall and enchant my children on a daily basis. We’ve had “The Foolish Frog” on repeat for three years now. And I love that Pete Seeger’s general idea seems to be that if you can get a big group of people singing together, you’re doing alright. I agree.

For those of you who may not yet have wrapped your children up in the cult of Pete, our favorite CDs are Birds, Beasts, Bugs, and Fishes Little and Big: Animal Folk Songs (a whole CD of animal songs was Henry’s dream come true) and Children’s Concert at Town Hall (we listen to this every single day, honestly). We have also recently gotten into Abiyoyo (and Other Songs and Stories) which is only seven songs long and, in my opinion, has the weakest version of “Abiyoyo” but which is worth every penny for “Sam, the Whaler” and “Sweepy, Sweepy, Sweepy.”

I really don’t know what we’d do without the wonder of Pete Seeger and all he has contributed to my family’s musical taste, and for that I wish him a very happy birthday. With cupcakes.



What’s your theme song?

March 26, 2009

I’ve read a few things lately that talk about the importance of having a theme song: some song that inspires you and speaks to you and that you can play as a psych-up song if you’re going on a job interview or into some other situation where you need to feel confident.

I love this idea, but it’s driving me nuts. I love music, but upon reflection I have realized that my music is comprised solely of songs that make terrible theme songs. There are songs I’ve always loved deeply, like Joni Mitchell’s “All I Want” which are lovely but nothing to base your life on. Or Bob Dylan’s “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go” — I love it and love singing it at the top of my lungs, but it’s not really the message I want as a theme song. They Might Be Giants “Shoehorn with Teeth”? Robyn Hitchcock “Balloon Man”? Elvis Costello “The Greatest Thing”? (Ok, that last one could maybe work.)

I considered Cat Stevens “If You Want to Sing Out” but somehow I feel that a song that could have been my theme song when I was 12 won’t help me in working toward being the awesome grownup I’m trying to be.

Any suggestions?


Eli’s birthday CD, a little late

March 3, 2009

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.
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