Talk about redemption.

Ask 100 parents how they approach talking about bad things in the world, and you’ll get 100 different opinions. But this Mama thinks it’s important to discuss challenging subjects.  It’s important to talk about slavery. It’s important to discuss oppression and discrimination in age appropriate ways. One way to start that conversation is through music.

Tot Rocker: Redemption Song by Bob Marley (sleepy baby)

Rolling Stone places Redemption Song at #66 of the top 500 songs of all time, behind No woman, no cry at #37. (Incidently, Hotel California is at #49. Ruh- Roh.)

Redemption Song is credited to Bob Marley and Edwin Hawkins, but the iconic lines “emancipate yourself from mental slavery… none but ourselves can free our minds” are attributed to civil rights activist Marcus Garvey in 1937. There have been several covers of Redemption Song lately (you probably have to try really hard to make a bad version of this song), but my favorite cover is by Johnny Cash and Joe Strummer.

Other Tot Rockers by Bob Marley: I think this is a gimme. Like The Beatles, Bob Marley has so many very recognizable songs and so many of them  translate easily into a lullaby that potentially every child has heard Three little birds and No woman, no cry by kindergarten. But just in case they haven’t, there you go.

Similar Tot Rockers: Police and Thieves by Junior Murvin (sleepy baby), Black boys on mopeds by Sinead O’Connor (sleepy baby).

Stuff to think about: 

New Republic: Cities need to understand what riots over police brutality are saying. 

New York Times: To talk Baltimore with kids, focus on the positive.

Get to know Bob Marley


Hand over that Sleepy Baby

Sometimes this needs to happen. Sleepy Baby music can help.

Sometimes this needs to happen. Sleepy Baby music can help.

Sometimes kids (and their adults) need to chill out. You know those times, everyone is just a little bit crispy, and you can tell somebody’s about to lose it. Sleepy baby music isn’t just for lullaby’s, it’s best used when the room needs to chill. It’s too early? Try Sleepy Baby. Need some quiet time in the car? Try sleepy baby. Hangry? Yep, sleepy baby.

Despite it’s many special powers, Sleepy Baby music has been underrepresented on Tot Rockin’ as of late. That’s mainly because as my babes have gotten bigger and like to rock harder. Toddler’s usually prefer to have their music kicked up a notch, but what do they know?  To right this Sleepy Baby wrong, I’m sharing three great sleepy baby songs in one she-bang. Or shhhh-bang, as the case may be.

Last weekend, on our way to “the chicken wing party” aka Wing Fest, my kids fell asleep in the car. To wake them up, I turned on the sleepy baby playlist, to gently nudge them awake. When we arrived at our destination, Wagon Wheel by Old Crow Medicine Show was about half way through. When I turned off the vehicle, TotBoy said, “Can we please listen to the rest of that song?” Yes. Yes we can.

Sleepy Baby #1: Wagon Wheel by Old Crow Medicine Show

Sleepy Baby songs aren’t generally Molly Gene‘s main thing. But every artist needs a great torch song and this is hers. This traditional folk song has been covered by many, but this One Whoaman Band nails it.

Sleepy Baby #2: Dink’s Song by Molly Gene One Whoaman Band (Traditional) 

Many sleepy baby songs are about lost love, heartbreak, disappointment. This one is about adultery. Yep, that’s totally okay in the Tot Rock handbook.  The first and last 30 seconds of this video are fantastic.

Sleepy Baby #3: Me and Mrs. Jones by Billy Paul

It’s generally frowned on to give your children whiskey to settle them down, so Sleepy Baby music will have to do.

I went on down to New Orleans, and they all ask’d for you.

To celebrate my recent trip to New Orleans and getting to see George Porter Jr (bassist of The Meters) play live, I figure it’s high time to chronicle this great Tot Rocker. They all ask’d for you by The Meters: They all ask’d for you is light-hearted while still bringing the funk. A punster might say it’s putting the Fun in FUNK, but I’m not a punster.

It's not the Audubon Zoo, but it's the best we got.

It’s not the Audubon Zoo, but it’s the best we got.

Other Tot Rockers by The Meters: Just kissed my baby (awake baby), Hand clapping song (awake baby)

It’s not the weather, it’s the people we love

Have you had enough snow this winter? My little shovelers certainly haven’t. While you won’t find me complaining about the weather, I’d agree with Sleater-Kinney, “It’s not the weather, it’s the people we love.” That line comes from a single off the new album of the same name: No Cities to Love. 

No Cities to Love by Sleater Kinney: 

Kind: Awake Baby

I want somebody to shovel. I need somebody to shovel. I want somebody to shovel me.

I want somebody to shovel. I need somebody to shovel. I want somebody to shovel me.

Reasons it’s a Tot Rocker: No Cities to Love is a fun, kicky song. There are verses that are a little more tricky, but you don’t have to wait long until they loop back to the strong fun anthem-y chorus. Did I mention it’s a great song? The women of Sleater-Kinney have gotten back together after a little hiatus to make this new album by the same name. So far, I’m pretty impressed with the whole album. Sleater-Kinney is currently on tour, if you want to see them live ya’ll better step to, because shows are selling out.

Other Tot Rockers by Sleater-Kinney: Modern Girl (sleepy baby), Bury our Friends (awake baby)

Similar Tot Rockers: Romance (Wild Flag), Waterfall (Ex Hex)

Get to know Sleater-Kinney. See you at the show!

Turn it up, Dad.

Likes water guns and and good music. Driving in the car tonight, the MP3 player was on shuffle, playing lots of random tunes. Within the first 20 seconds of a song my son yells, “Dad! What’s dis song?” TotRock Dad says, “It’s called On my way Downtown.” To which son replies, “Hmmm. It’s good! I wike dis song!”

On my way Downtown by Lucero:

On my way downtown is a great song and I love Lucero, so this is a Proud TotRock Mom moment. It’s also an important reminder that you don’t have to over think music for your kids. Good music is easy to like.

Tots have yet to appreciate Willie Nelson. We’re working on it.

On the other hand, the next song to play was a bust. In response to Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain: “turn it OFF! It’s too sad!” He’s two years old, people. And sensitive.  Sorry, Willie.

Lucero is best enjoyed live. This youtube video, is a sad substitute, but it’ll give you an idea. Since it seems like Lucero is always on tour, you can see for yourself.

What’s your favorite Lucero song?