What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the 12 songs on this short album are both witty and wise, with plenty of goofiness mixed in. These pop-infused tunes celebrate life's simple moments such as splashing in the rain in red rubber boots, flights of fancy inspired by a favorite watercolor set, and appreciating one's feet. Peter Himmelman asks some big questions, too -- actual meaning-of-life kind of stuff -- in songs like "Another Bite of Hay" and the touching "My Father's an Accountant," a tribute to his dad, who died of lymphoma. Animals make frequent appearances on this album, even when you don't expect them, like in "Baseball Tips with Professor Buckley," which isn't really a song, but a faux radio interview about how fast various animals might throw a baseball. A fish? Only about 3 miles an hour.
What's the story?
Peter Himmelman is the kid's musician of choice for parents who really love music. Himmelman has his hands in many creative pots: He creates adult rock, children's music, and soundtracks for movies and television shows such as Judging Amy. He has a robust fan base and is known for exuberant live shows involving spontaneous audience participation. MY GREEN KITE is Himmelman's fourth children's album, following familiar Himmelman ground with its clever ruminations on family life, seen both from an adult and child's point of view. "My Father's an Accountant" is both funny and sad -- a grown man's appreciation for the dad he used to consider dull because he crunched numbers instead of wearing "a hero's cape." The lyrics "One day I saw what my father really did. He spent his whole life taking care of his wife and kid" are even more poignant considering Himmelman lost his father to lymphoma as a young man.
Is it any good?
Himmelman's approach keeps these songs crisp and funny and the layering of audio effects (like the sound of his "dad" clacking away on an adding machine while muttering numbers to himself), along with jazzy backup singing, make the tracks feel almost like performance art. Himmelman also writes intros to the lyrics for each song on the beautifully designed liner notes explaining his inspiration. Indeed, Himmelman's sense of fun is contagious, and parents may find themselves enjoying My Green Kite as much as their youngsters. It's almost like being a kid again.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about issues raised in each song such as how kids feel when they eat eggs that might have become chickens. (Warning: A bit of seemingly pro-vegetarian didacticism lurks in "Have You Ever Really Looked at an Egg?" even though the liner notes proclaim otherwise.) Or, what parents really mean when they say "maybe" in response to kids' questions--"Maybe is a Bad Word" is a wry ode to ambiguous authority and the eternal frustration it causes kids. This album might also inspire families to actually fly a kite, paint some watercolors, make up their own silly jazzy rap song (like "Nothin' to Say"), or just slow down and enjoy the moment, which is what this album is really all about.