Sunday, December 11, 2011

Seeing Tom Chapin at the SteelStacks

Most music for kids is lousy. I don't think this means anything, other than to show that kiddy music is not exempt from Sturgeon’s Law, which is a rule coined by a famous sci-fi author, who, when he got tired of people pointing out that 90% of sci-fi was crap, rebutted that 90% of the work in any field is crap.

That said, there are some good bands for kids. I'm all for Lily developing her own preferences, but as long as I have to listen to it, I'll try to steer her away from, say, the Wiggles, and towards bands that I can enjoy too.  I'm partial to (and by partial to, I mean that I'll listen to it when Lily's not around) Lunch Money and the kids stuff from TMBG and Kimya Dawson, and of course, Tom Chapin.

He's almost certainly better known as the brother to Harry Chapin, the composer and performer to "Cat's in the Cradle" and other famous folk songs of the era. I think that does him something of a disservice. He's extraordinarily talented in his own right and everything about him points towards him to being as nice a guy as he seems. He's involved in all sorts of charitable work, his kid songs are about loving your family and taking care of the planet. (One song about buying locally grown food rhymed paradoxic and carbon dioxic and farmer and karma. How can you beat that?)

The show itself was great. At one point he had his daughter up on a stage to sing Gertie's Birdseed Diner with him, and when her toddler missed her mommy, they welcomed her on stage too. It was marketed as an all ages show, and I went with Lily, Jen and Jen's mom and I couldn't tell which one of us enjoyed it more.

Lily describes herself as a "fan" of Tom Chapin,  and while it's strange to think of a five-year-old in terms of being a fan of anything, I think it fits. She certainly knows his works. We bought a CD after the show. Lily asked if it had "Nick of Time" on it. I asked her which one that was, and she proceeded to sing it, as far as I could tell, flawlessly, after hearing it once.

Near the end of the show, he was singing along with one of the songs, loud enough to be heard over the sound system, and Tom's daughter, who had returned to the audience after her time on stage, looked over at her and smiled, and it just makes me happy that he's able to bring that kind of joy to his family and other families through his work.

When we bought the CD, Tom was at the table. He autographed it for Lily and took the time to talk to her and tell her that one of his daughters was named Lily too.

It was a pretty long night and we were listening to it at bedtime and Lily said "I could never fall asleep listening to these wonderful songs!" and true to her word, she made it all the way through the disc before drifting off.

1 comment:

  1. I love how Tom takes any piece of the childhood experience, and makes it in to an entertaining full-length song. "Cousins" (rowdy cousins visiting for the weekend), "Street Fair", Lemonade Stands, Alphabet Soup, "New Kid at School", piano lessons, snow days, adopting a puppy. He also has some very entertaining ballads like "Goosetown Halloween" about a crew at a firestation who were hosting a town Halloween party when a call comes in. The firemen have to leave to put out a fire, still in their various costumes. ("No time to change your costumes, a gremlin came a-sliding down the pole.")

    It should also be noted that although we've listened to mostly his kids' stuff, he also records adult music, primarily focused on environmental and social justice issues. "Common Ground" is really the only non-kid stuff I've heard, but the title song will give you the gist of his folk sound.