Music for Little Geeks (and their parents)

Geek Culture

Recently a geek friend turned me on to a Springwise article about The Pokey Pup, an online store featuring music and other media for kids that, to put it plainly, doesn’t suck.

Bryan Townsend, founder… feels their pain: “Let’s face it, parents end up listening to this music and watching the DVDs as much as their kids do, and after a while, that can be downright excruciating on everyone’s ears.” … "The best children’s music can be music that parents enjoy as much as their children,” says Townsend.

That got me thinking about my own choices in music, both as a geek and a dad. I tend to listen to geek artists like Jonathan Coulton as often as radio hits, so it’s always made sense for me to share that kind of music with the Geeklet. (Mr. Fancy Pants gets stuck in his head, too.) It takes some thoughtful listening to choose songs that are age-appropriate (man, that kid can pick out the raciest lyrics in seconds flat), but the result is a playlist we can all rock out to.

I love finding collections like Dan Zanes‘ Rocket Ship Beach. The New York Times Magazine said it well: “Zanes’ kids music works because it is not kids music; it’s just music — music that’s unsanitized, unpasteurized, that’s organic even.” In this case the music itself isn’t geeky; songs like Erie Canal aren’t exactly space science. It’s more the feel of the music, the sheer joy and passion that shines through when really good musicians play simple songs.

Joy and passion also describe They Might Be Giants, a classic geek band. Although their album No! is specifically geared toward kids with songs like Robot Parade and John Lee Supertaster, many of their other songs are kid-friendly while retaining their geekiness. My favorite is the classic "Why Does The Sun Shine?":

The sun is a mass of incandescent gas
A gigantic nuclear furnace
where hydrogen is built into helium
at a temperature of millions of degrees

Yo ho it’s hot
The Sun is not
a place where we could live
but here on earth there’d be no life without the light it gives…

And how can you argue with something like that?

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