Are you looking for some new material at lullaby time? Jeff Bogle has got you covered!
Perhaps you are the one guy in all the land who can put his kid down with a stirring, albeit hushed, A cappella version of Dylan’s “Visions of Johanna.” But assuming you, like me, cannot actually pull off the 7 1/2-minute masterpiece at any time of day, let alone in a dark quiet bedroom, here are eleven pitch perfect (even if you’re not) songs to sing sweetly and softly at the next naptime, bedtime, or long road trip time.
Does it sound like a mid-70′s soft rock classic? Yeah. Is that a good thing? Ooooh yeah. Kindie rock’s greatest living songwriter gently blowed the doors of the lullaby game with his aptly titled Lullaby album released late last year, and this track from it, along with its neighbor “A Wild One”, stands as a masterclass of down-tempo music for sleepy days and starry nights.
Middle Brother was the one-off (in all likelihood, unfortunately) collaboration between the lead singers of three great American indie rock bands: Dawes, Delta Spirit, and Deer Tick. This gem, which hears every guy take a verse, was the final track on their stellar, thoroughly child-unfriendly, self-titled debut album. Dawes then rerecorded it on their CD Nothing Is Wrong but it fails to capture the desperation those three unique voices conveyed a year earlier. My girls wanted “Million Dollar Bill” sung to them every night for over a year, and we three stood in awe of the poetry of it all.
You probably won’t be able to find the near-breathless register employed by Lunch Money’s impossibly charming frontwoman Molly Ledford, but no worries, I can’t either, and it doesn’t matter one iota. There isn’t a lovelier song to recapture the moments of bliss shortly after delivering a child. I get chills every single time I hear and sing this one…and I didn’t give birth to either of my two!
This epic relationship yarn spun by the Grammy Award Wining kindie duo held the #1 spot on my youngest girl’s personal lullaby chart for at least two years straight. The song she calls “Peter Pan” put her to sleep for hundreds of naps and bedtimes. There have been a few life altering songs in my life and this is one of them. I documented the moment I first heard it on my own site in my full review of this fantastic album.
It makes sense that a song sung to get children to sleep in a movie would work to get children to sleep in real life too! I cannot achieve Van Dyke’s fluttery voice or his terrible British accent, but I try, and the girls laugh for a bit before being carried away to dream land in a boat that waits down by the bay. This Sherman Brothers showtune is an all-time classic lullaby that not enough people are singing to their kids!
This melancholy number might seem a bit downtrodden for a child’s lullaby, but Frost’s inimitable voice and her poetic lyrics about not being able to find the words to express what she is feeling inside is sometimes the way a parent feels about their child, unable to do justice to the depth of love and emotion we feel when we watch our child rest peacefully in their bed, with only the soft glow of a butterfly nightlight painting their beautiful face.
Yes, the kindie rock trio from Seattle are major goofballs onstage and off. But once or twice on every single one of their records, songwriter and lead singer Drew Holloway and gang tap the brakes and turn up the tenderness. “Tiny Telephone” goes back a ways, to the band’s 2009 release, but remains a shining example of an abstract, silly-on-the-surface (I mean, c’mon, he is singing about a “phone that’s so small / you can’t see it at all”!) yet positively adorable tune that when sung slowly and quietly, will become a staple of your bedtime routine. *Photo by Kevin Fry.
Kindie rock’s Bay Area songstress delivers an ode to the warmest, most comforting and loving place in all the world: home. Singing this one every night may just ensure that your children always find their way back into your home and into your arms, no matter where life’s many adventures take them.
The middle of our Home trifecta comes from an L.A. based dad and Tin Pan Alley-esque songwriter who has crafted the quintessential song about the place where you feel (hopefully) most at ease, surrounded by the people you (hopefully) feel the most love for and from. The song’s illustrated slideshow video could win a Newbery Medal for best picture book, and really brings home (see what I did there?) the song’s exquisite context.
Sticking with the home theme…You’ll probably have to dial down, or drop completely, the dramatic “Oh yes he will!” backing vocal, but the rest of this piano ballad can easily serve as a parenting mantra: you will always be there to provide the most honest and enduring love, no matter what, no matter when, no matter why it is needed.
And now speaking of Nilsson … One of his modern day disciples, a SoCal dad who usually drenches his kindie songs in sunshine and guitar fuzz, keeps this piano pop tune relatively simple and the result is a sort of sleepytime prayer and way to give thanks for all that you and your wife/child/family have that’s grand — even grander than you could have ever planned.
Now for the wakey-wakey hours, after a brilliant night’s sleep, a dad can do a lot worse than popping open a Cooper & Kid kit with his son or daughter to build, play, imagine, and be as close to his kid(s) during the daytime as he was the night before, snuggled up, singing some of these eleven songs at bedtime.
This post first appeared on the wonderful site Cooper & Kid. It has been republished with permission.
Top image: Flickr/shankar, shiv
All other images are part of the original post.