Many kids’ musicians create albums and songs as postcards of their favorite places
There’s a cool thing that’s been happening in children’s music over the past few years – artists like Lucky Diaz & the Family Jam Band and Joanie Leeds & the Nightlights are making full albums to tell you all about their hometowns. Just this week Lucky dropped a new album Made in L.A. telling us all about their experience living and working in the City of Angels. For Joanie, Brooklyn Baby gives us an authentic slice of New York City life for a family sharing the wonders of the big city with a toddler.
Similarly, Okee Dokee Brothers love to take trips and write complete albums while in these special places. Through the Woods chronicles their long hike down the Appalachian Mountains, while Saddle Up! celebrates their one horse power-driven ride west of the U.S. Continental Divide.
L.A. based Jazzy Ash dedicated her debut album Home to her childhood home of New Orleans, Louisiana. The original songs on that album paint a vivid picture of growing up in the Big Easy, with “Throw Me Something Mista” giving a kid’s perspective on the raucus Mardi Gras celebration. Just this week she returned to her roots in a different way, with an album of traditional African-American favorites, titled Swing Set, played in her signature New Orleans jazz style.
My own album Lollipop Motel is a love letter to the Jersey Shore, which, while not right around the corner, is in my home state; it’s a special place for our family to visit a few times each summer. Much of the lyrical content was conjured up on these magical summer nights by the poolside of that very hotel. Sometimes ideas sprang to life and were discussed on the car rides up and down the Garden State Parkway.
California has had more of its share of kindie love, from Lucky Diaz to Frances England singing extensively about her hometown of San Francisco on her Explorer of the World disc, which makes a child a world explorer by virtue of their exploration of his/her own neighborhood.
Plenty of single songs express the joy of a certain place, like “L.A. Christmas” by Andrew & Polly, featuring Mista Cookie Jar. Sometimes it appears in the video while the lyrics can apply to anywhere, like in Mista Cookie Jar’s “My Happy Place” video. The Hipwaders, on their album The Golden State, beckon with that album’s title track and the catchy “Come to California.”
Justin Roberts sets his song “Otis” in his hometown of Chicago where an elevator ride becomes the gateway to an exciting day in the midwestern city. Dan Zanes takes us on an iconic ferris wheel ride with his ode to Coney Island’s Wonder Wheel. Coney Island is an Atlantic Ocean beach in Brooklyn, NY with a famous and lively amusement boardwalk.
The Not-Its! turn a trip to the U.S. capitol into a clarion call to kids to get involved in civic life, training them to demand their representatives pay attention to their constituents in the song “Washington, D.C.”
Of course, we can’t forget Sandra Boynton’s whimsical “Philadelphia Chickens,” sung by the Bacon Brothers, their wacky tribute to the “City of Chickenly Love!” Nearby, Jersey Shore native Yosi, makes the beach experience universal in his B-E-A-C-H song.
One anthem makes it a point to take you to several places to excite a child’s love for travel. Twinkle Time’s Made in the U.S.A. track does just that, in the form of a feel-good country pop crossover anthem.
While there are plenty of real, physical places in the world to explore and to take a musical journey to, an artist will occasionally imagine a fictitious place worth visiting. Kindie artist Miss Nina points out that Joanie Leeds achieved that feat with “Kids’ Place” where she dreams up a realm more accommodating to kids’ desires than our everyday one – a world where all the candy is placed low enough where they can reach it!
Of course, Miss Nina manages to universally capture everyone’s love for their home base wherever it is with “Let’s Go Home” on her latest album Every Day’s Your Birthday.”
Do you know of more albums or songs for kids that transport you to a specific place, real or imagined? Comment below to keep the conversation going.