Songs about Feet, Math, Baseball: New Kids' Music Kids' music blogger Stefan Shepherd weighs in on some of the new music for children that has been catching his ear. Shepherd reviews kids and family music "worth sharing" at

Songs about Feet, Math, Baseball: New Kids' Music

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.


And I'm Melissa Block.

It's been a while since we've checked in with blogger Stefan Shepherd to hear what children's music has caught his fancy.

(Soundbite of song "Feet")

BLOCK: Stefan Shepherd runs the Web site Zooglobble with news and reviews of kids' and family music. Hi, Stefan.

Mr. STEFAN SHEPHERD (Music Blogger, Hi, Melissa.

BLOCK: And we are listening to one of the CDs you steered me to. This is Peter Himmelman. The CD is called "My Green Kite." And this is the song "Feet."

(Soundbite from "Feet")

Mr. PETER HIMMELMAN ("My Green Kite"): (Singing) My feet take me everywhere, take me off to anywhere. I love my feet. (He loves his feet).

Mr. SHEPHERD: And one of the things I love about Peter Himmelman's work for kids is he puts a new frame or a new spin on the subject. In this case, it's developing a new appreciation for a body part, which you might not actually think about very often, wrapped around this very catchy melody, and people shouting feet.

(Soundbite of song "Feet")

Mr. HIMMELMAN: (Singing) School's out, my feet needs to run. Jump Up! Feet are so fun. They go twinkle, winkle, winkle under my covers when the day is done.

Mr. SHEPHERD: "Feet" is this wonderful "Sgt. Pepper's"-esque song. I mean, one of the things that Himmelman does is he obviously has a separate life recording music not for kids. And so that sounds like a full pop song, something that George Martin might have helped the Beatles record.

BLOCK: And if you listen closely, you'll hear sort of as an aside, somebody using the word Schmendrik, the Yiddish word for fool. So kids everywhere will be going, Mom, what's a Schmendrik?

(Soundbite of song "Feet")

Mr. HIMMELMAN: (Singing) Schmendrik loves his feet.

Mr. SHEPHERD: A little Yiddish lesson as well.

BLOCK: Yeah, why not? You also called our attention to a compilation called "Play," which is a really different sound, very high energy.

Mr. SHEPHERD: Yes. This is a compilation put out by DeSoto Records, bands that most people would consider punk.

(Soundbite song "The Grizzly Jive")

GEORGIE JAMES (Band): (Singing) One fine day in the mountain air, a hunter spied a grizzly bear. He drew his gun and took his aim...

Mr. SHEPHERD: The band, Georgie James, is a sort of a new band. And they've got a fun song on here called the "The Grizzly Jive," which is actually the first song that the band ever wrote together. It's a great little pop song.

(Soundbite of song "The Grizzly Jive")

GEORGIE JAMES: (Singing) One, two, three, four, five, let's do the grizzly jive. Six, seven, eight, nine, ten, let's do the jive again. The hunter he jumped back in shock. He couldn't believe the bear could talk...

Mr. SHEPHERD: All of these artists have made records in fancy studios. A lot of - some of them have probably had major label funding to help make those sounds. I mean, they all know their way around a production. What was your favorite cut?

BLOCK: I must say, I did like the version of John Fogerty's "Centerfield."

Mr. SHEPHERD: Oh, I thought that was great.

(Soundbite of song "Centerfield")

Ms. RACHEL FLOTARD (Vocalist, Visqueen): (Singing) Put me in, coach - I'm ready to play today. Put me in, coach - I'm ready to play today. Look at me, I can be centerfield.

Mr. SHEPHERD: As a baseball fan and as a parent of a 6-year-old daughter who hits the snot out of a oversized plastic baseball, it warms my heart to hear this great baseball song being sung by a woman, Rachel Flotard of the band Visqueen.

(Soundbite of "Centerfield")

Ms. FLOTARD: (Singing) So say, hey Willie, tell Ty Cobb and Joe DiMaggio. Don't say it ain't so, you know the time is now. Put me in, coach - I'm ready to play today. Put me in, coach - I'm ready to play today.

BLOCK: Well, we're going to take a huge tonal shift here going from that raucous energy of the compilation "Play." And now, a CD of mostly lullabies called "It's a Big World" by Renee and Jeremy.

Mr. SHEPHERD: And again, this is a CD made by some artists who have recorded for adults who decided they wanted to take a shot at crafting a CD for kids.

BLOCK: Just listen to what they do with this Bob Marley song, "Three Little Birds," which is slowed down, so much that it's almost approaching a dirge, I think.

(Soundbite of song "Three Little Birds")

Mr. JEREMY TOBACK (Vocalist, Renee and Jeremy): (Singing) Rise up this morning, smiled with the rising sun. Three little birds pitch by my doorstep, singing sweet songs of melodies pure and true, saying this is my message to you.

Mr. TOBACK and Ms. RENEE STAHL: Don't worry about a thing because every little thing...

Mr. SHEPHERD: They've recorded this in the room that was to become the nursery for Renee's daughter.

BLOCK: This is for Renee Stahl, of Renee and Jeremy.

Mr. SHEPHERD: Yes. And so this CD, I think, appropriately has a very lo-fi, a very raw sound that helps achieve an intimacy that is appropriate for a collection of lullabies.

(Soundbite of song "Three Little Birds")

Ms. STAHL: (Singing) Rise up this morning, smile with the rising sun.

BLOCK: Here's another CD from the Terrible Twos, it's called "If You Ever See An Owl." And I wanted to play for you a little lesson song called "Math Stomp."

(Soundbite of song "Math Stomp")

TERRIBLE TWOS (Band): (Singing) Do you know how to add, how to multiply and divide?

Mr. SHEPHERD: Got a nice little Americana country shuffle.

(Soundbite of song "Math Stomp")

TERRIBLE TWOS: (Singing) If you're smart as a tack, do you know how the rules apply?

BLOCK: Maybe it sounds a little bit like They Might Be Giants?

Mr. SHEPHERD: A little bit. Mixed in with some old 97's, or Ryan Adams perhaps.

(Soundbite of song "Math Stomp")

TERRIBLE TWOS: (Singing) How one plus one equals two and so from there. One plus one is a two plus two is a four.

Mr. SHEPHERD: I like where it says, anything times zero is still zero.

(Soundbite of song "Math Stomp")

TERRIBLE TWOS: (Singing) Sixteen times zero is still zero.

BLOCK: I want to throw out one CD that landed on my desk that I put in right away. And it's by the McCoury band, Del McCoury and his sons. It's called "Little Mo' McCoury." This is a well-known bluegrass family. And I love the song, "Barefoot Nellie," which is going to make some kid out there want to play the banjo.

(Soundbite of "Barefoot Nellie")

Mr. DEL McCOURY (Vocalist, Del McCoury Band): (Singing) Redheaded peckerwood, setting on a limb. Mama said chicken, but Nellie shot him, wrung his neck and picked him clean the funniest chicken I've ever seen.

Hey! Barefoot Nellie, Ho! Barefoot Nellie. Hey! Barefoot Nellie, you're the one for me.

BLOCK: Stefan Shepherd, do you like this CD?

Mr. SHEPHERD: I do like it. It'll get released next month. And it's got some songs that kids might be familiar with, a Randy Newman song from "Toy Story," some traditional songs like "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star." But they've also got songs like this, which is just a lot of fun. It's very high quality bluegrass playing.

(Soundbite of song "Barefoot Nellie")

Mr. McCOURY: (Singing) Hey! Barefoot Nellie, Ho! Barefoot Nellie. Hey! Barefoot Nellie, you're the one for me.

Mr. SHEPHERD: I was listening to "Barefoot Nellie" this morning with my son. And my son was just jumping around all over the place.

BLOCK: Stefan, how old is your son?

Mr. SHEPHERD: My son turns 2 this week. He likes the high-energy music, so he also likes a lot of the songs on "Play."

BLOCK: Well, Stefan, it's great to talk to you. Enjoy the rest of your summer.

Mr. SHEPHERD: Thank you.

BLOCK: Thanks so much.

Mr. SHEPHERD: You're welcome, Melissa.

(Soundbite of song "Barefoot Nellie")

Mr. McCOURY: (Singing) Sold a man a trip to Mars now she sits behind the bars.

BLOCK: Stefan Shepherd writes the music for kids and families at You can hear more of the music from his recommended CDs at

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