I’m always on the lookout for ways to introduce my son to music. We’re a musical family, and have been for some generations on both sides. But getting a three-year-old engaged in anything can be a sincere challenge, especially if it doesn’t somehow incorporate car noises or the ABCs.
Well, as it turns out, a couple of months ago I received an email that began: “A small, yellow, cone-headed fellow from the sun has landed on Earth. His name is Gustafer Yellowgold.” Honestly, I had no idea what to make of such a pitch, but I kept reading. I mean, how could I not?
It turns out that Gustafer Yellowgold is far more than a little alien from the sun. He is, in fact, the brain child of Morgan Taylor, a singer-songwriter and illustrator whose style can be described as part Elliott Smith, part Beatles, with a hint of Simon & Garfunkel (or, “Yellow Submarine” meets Dr. Seuss as the New York Times put it). The lyrics are clever, the music marvelously mellow and extremely catchy, and the sparse but wonderfully stylistic animation is quite delightful.
From the get-go I really liked Gustafer, his music, and his story (not to mention his fabulous friends which include an eel and a dragon). But, considering how many times I’ve failed at introducing television, movies, and music to the geeklet, I honestly didn’t have my hopes up.
However, from the moment that I turned on Mellow Fever–Gustafer’s third DVD/CD set–my son was hooked. It’s almost eerie, how music and illustration can turn a perpetually moving, chattering, car-obsessed monkey boy into a placid, attentive, remarkably still child. Not only that, but soon after we saw the first DVD, he would ask for more, something he usually only reserves for television shows with dump-trucks or race cars. Those moments of silence and tranquility are nearly miraculous. On top of that, the kiddo actually remembered the songs he listened to by name. In fact, one afternoon in the car, he randomly demanded to hear “Panther Stamps Pants“.
But best of all, nothing about Gustafer Yellowgold feels disingenuous or forcedly child-friendly. The music is simply beautifully done (and the recent DVD includes artists from Wilco Members Pat Sansone and John Stirratt, as well as Lisa Loeb). It’s music that speaks to kids and adults alike, enforced with a magical sense of imagination and a unique vision. Well worth the ride.
You can learn more about Gustafer Yellowgold and his world here: