It was Dora the Explorer that started it all. For some reason, my wife and I thought it would be fun to buy our daughter the CD of songs from her favorite TV show. Sure enough, Sarah loved it.
Of course, once she discovered that the car stereo could play “kid music,” none of mom’s and dad’s CD’s were acceptable to her anymore. It was out with Beck and in with Backyardigans. Pink Floyd was replaced with Blue’s Clues… Coldplay with Caillou.
I can’t stand Caillou.
To be honest, not all of this “kid music” is bad. Laurie Berkner, for example, sounds like an Ani DiFranco for the preschool set. The Mary Poppins soundtrack is a lot of fun, and I’m not entirely sick of listening to various Disney compilations.
However, I do miss listening to “real” music, and I look forward to the day when Sarah discovers the sonic joys that await in her parents’ vast CD collection. Someday, she’ll know the difference between Bob Marley (who she actually likes) and Bob Dylan (who she does not like). I know in my heart that one day she will regret ever speaking the words “I don’t like the Beatles!”
I never would have guessed, though, that her gateway to better taste in music would be the soundtrack to Shrek.
We picked it up on a whim, since the movie was constantly getting replayed on our TiVo. It was no surprise to hear her singing along to Smashmouth’s “All Star” and “I’m a Believer”. What was shocking was to hear Sarah working out the lyrics to Rufus Wainwright’s version of “Hallelujah”.
To hear a four-year-old singing along to a remake of that classic Leonard Cohen song was… surreal.
It was also an opportunity to try to introduce my daughter to something new. Thus, when we got home, music school was in session. The first lesson: cover songs.
We began with the best… Jeff Buckley’s haunting version of “Hallelujah” from his amazing “Grace” album. This was followed by snippets of the same song as recorded by artists as varied as Willie Nelson, Bono, k.d. lang, John Cale, and, of course, Leonard Cohen.
Sarah was fascinated. In the end, she decided she preferred “the one with the girl singing.” That would be k.d. lang, from her excellent 2004 album “Hymns of the 49th Parallel”, which was, ironically enough, all covers.
A few weeks have passed since that first lesson, and the Shrek soundtrack is still in heavy rotation in the family car. While I’m sure Sarah would enjoy it if I burned a CD of nothing more than all those cover versions of “Hallelujah”, I’ve refrained from creating such a compilation. Too much of a good thing, perhaps?
But what of music school? What would the next lesson be?
As luck would have it, I stumbled upon a used copy of the Proclaimers’ 1988 CD “Sunshine on Leith”, which contained another song off the Shrek soundtrack. Sarah already knew most of the words to the Scottish duo’s “I’m On My Way”, and I had a feeling she’d enjoy their equally bouncy one-hit-wonder “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)”.
Lesson two: rock and roll around the world, perhaps? Scotland’s Proclaimers, Ireland’s U2, Sweden’s ABBA, Germany’s Kraftwerk… well, maybe not Kraftwerk. I can only take so much Kraftwerk.
Then again, anything is better than Caillou.
This column originally appeared in the November 2007 issue of TC Style magazine