Dec 292015

Within the same week, the week before we’d head out on the road for a little holiday, I received two CDs for review that I was sure would bring me for a trip down memory lane. Very different times in my life, however.

Born in the ’80s, Raffi was where it was at. I don’t know how old I was when I first heard his music, but they’re the kind of songs that stay stuck in your heart forever. Remember Brush Your Teeth, Baby Beluga or Peanut Butter (and Jelly)? The nostalgic list goes on and on.

Fast forward a decade and in 1994, Lisa Loeb’s Stay (You Say) was on Much Music. She. Was. The. Coolest. I wanted to live in that apartment and I wanted to wear those glasses. I did, in fact, go on to live in an apartment and wear cat-eye glasses. I knew the song was in the movie Reality Bites so I convinced my whole family to sit down and watch it together. I was 11 and it was awkward. But at least during the credits I got to hear my song.

Today, I recorded a cover that song with my friend Matt.

paradeTWO decades later, Dec. 2015. Road trip with Babe, almost 5 and Bug almost 3. I had told them we’d be able to borrow a DVD player for the ride. It didn’t happen and I thought Babe would have a stromp the whole 6 hour drive. But I gave her the CD wallet she and her brother share and she first chose Lisa Loeb’s new Nursery Rhyme Parade!

35 short, simple songs that the kids mostly already knew. By the end of our trip (we almost exclusively listened to Nursery Rhyme Parade! the entire way from Montreal to Toronto…) Babe was singing along to every single song. It was pretty adorable. And a welcome break from hearing her sing, Let it Go!

ABC seems to be Bug’s fave while Babe’s is Jack and Jill. When Lisa sings about vinegar and brown paper, Babe laughs uncontrollably. She, however, hates (her word, not mine) the songs, It’s raining it’s pouring, and Ring around the Rosie, because she says, “They sound like teasing.”

Does Nursery Rhyme Parade! grab me the way Nine Tails, Cake and Pie or Firecracker did? No. But that’s not what this is about. It’s about a singer/songwriter, like Jewel, who got a little older, had kids and recorded some music for kids. Because, why not? Mamas like me who were huge fans can relive it a little with our kids. This CD isn’t for me. It’s for the kids and they love it!

This is not Lisa Loeb’s first children’s CD. Catch the Moon, 2003, Silly Singalong and Camp Lisa were released in 2008.

The first thing I thought when I heard Raffi‘s Owl Singalong, was wow, his voice sounds older. I admittedly haven’t heard last year’s Love Bug, which was his first set of children’s songs in twelve years. We can still tell it’s Raffi on this album, but with more than 25 years between me and my daughter, his voice has inevitably changed. Maybe a bit like a wise old(er) owl.

owlsingalong_300The 16-song Owl Singalong—whose title song was partly inspired by the owls he hears nightly outside his home on Salt Spring Island (oh, how I love that magical place!) was the perfect road trip CD.

The Lion Pokey might be my favourite new song. It’s the Hokey Pokey, but sung by Raffi the lion. It’s one of a few times in this album that Raffi gets into another character. This one make laugh cause he sounds a little like Bubbles from Trailer Park Boys. I’m not sure that was his intention.

He also invokes Bob Dylan in the bluesy Who Hoo Could I Be, which was a good laugh for the parents in the car.

A family favourite is the raggae-flavoured Green Dream. “Green Dream is an important song for me,” said the artist, in a press release.  “We live with the menace of global climate change, which is the greatest threat to future generations, and the kids who are alive today are gonna face the brunt of that challenge.  At the same time, we’re seeing a rapid shift from fossil fuels to green energy technologies.  My dream is a green dream for all of the world’s children, and I hope that’s something that all families want.”

See the Moon— yin to Mr. Golden Sun‘s yang. The kids loved recognizing the very familiar melody sung with new, almost opposite lyrics.

Raffi is a recipient of the Order of Canada and the United Nations’ Earth Achievement Award and he holds four honorary degrees. He is associated with many NGOs, including the Darwin Project Council, the Center for  Partnership Studies, the Center for Children’s Health and the Environment, and the Fraser Mustard Institute for Human Development.

I have a new copy of Owl Singalong for one lucky Raffi fan! Please share this post from the mamanaturale Facebook page, and comment here with your favourite Raffi song. Good luck!