Friday Playlist: Baby's First Playlist

My ridiculously cute daughter
My wife and I recently had a baby girl (Alison, pictured above sporting a stylish baby towel).  Parenting, of course, has its challenges, but it also has its joys - and a big one for me these days has been sharing music with my daughter.  Music is a primary way that I communicate with the world (hence this blog), and my communications with her have been no exception.  When I'm not singing her improvised lyrics to lullabies (or making up new songs entirely), I've been playing her different songs from my library and noting her reaction to various things.  For example, Metallica seemed to make her gassy.  She liked Aimee Mann, but only the early stuff.  And she absolutely loves Spiritualized.

So I've compiled her very first playlist, comprising some of her favorites for chillout time, dance time, and sleepytime.  I hope you enjoy it as much as she does.

PS A friend of mine gave me the gift of 3 albums from Rockabye Baby, namely lullaby versions of songs by Queen, Radiohead, and Led Zeppelin.  Those are all awesome, and have the added bonus of lulling me to sleep, but I prefer to save those as secret weapons when I'm trying to conk her out, as opposed to just putting on music for her to chill to or dance with me to, etc.

  1. Spiritualized - Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space (Original Version)
    I first played this for Alison when she was only a few days old.  She had just finished eating and was in what baby experts call the "quiet alert state."  So I figured it would be a perfect time to play her some tunes.  I asked my wife what she thought a baby would like, and she said "Spiritualized?"  I said yes.  This is the original version of this song which includes lyrics from Elvis's "Can't Help Falling In Love" (the Presley estate made the band remove that portion of the song from this album's original release).  The lyrics to the whole thing are pretty perfect to sing to a new baby.  This is probably Alison's favorite song thus far (and one of my favorites, too).
  2. Thievery Corporation - From Creation
    She wasn't too taken with other Thievery Corporation songs, but she really seemed to click with this one.  By "click," I mean she got quiet and stopped fussing and seemed to chill out a bit.  I assume she likes these guys because, like her parents, they're from DC.
  3. K'naan - Fatima
    This song is actually kind of a downer, lyrically (it's about a young girl who was murdered, I think), but Alison really seemed to enjoy the rhythm, particularly in the chorus.  [Editor's note: I'm saying things like "seemed to," "appeared to," etc. a lot because when I asked her what she thought of all these songs, she gave me no answer, so I'm having to go on educated guesses here.]
  4. Cat Power - Living Proof
    This is my favorite Cat Power song.  Alison definitely seemed to enjoy it, but I don't know if it was genuine or if she was just trying to please me because she knows it's my favorite.  Either way, she enjoyed being gently swayed in my arms to this song.  Who wouldn't?  Babies are supposed to like simple, repetitive melodies, and this one definitely fits the bill.
  5. Yellow Ostrich - Mary
    She seemed pretty relaxed during this song, which seems to be about the singer's friend who's on drugs.  Alison overlooked the content and just focused on the soothing background, which definitely chilled her out.
  6. The Snake The Cross The Crown - Cakewalk
    Alison definitely identified with this song's ethos of "I just want to do the things that I feel like doing, and I want to be rewarded for same."  Basically a baby's mantra.
  7. The Beatles - Flying
    I've been told that when I was a wee tot, almost nothing would soothe my jangled nerves as much as when my parents would put the big headphones on me and throw on either a Beatles record or something classical.  Alison has a lot more Beatles to go (and classical, for that matter) but she seemed to take to this track - not a bad start.
  8. Phish - Horn
    I first played her "Bouncing Around The Room" which I thought she'd love, but I guess it was a little too simplistic, even for her. But she loved "Horn," especially the intro/chorus. She says she's psyched to hear Trey's solos on some live versions when she's a little older.
  9. Self - Uno Song
    I don't know a lot of Self songs after Subliminal Plastic Motives, but this one came up on shuffle the other week and she really dug dancing along to it.  And by "dancing" I mean "me waving her around in my arms."  Tapping out the beat on her back also seemed to help her burp, so hey - bonus.
  10. Her Space Holiday - Sleepy California
    Despite this song being about the slow death of the singer's estrangement from his mother and the painful death of his grandmother, Alison really seemed to enjoy it.  She can be kind of dark that way.  Or she was sleepy, it's hard to tell sometimes.
  11. The Postal Service - The District Sleeps Alone Tonight
    Another song that appeals to Alison because of her DC heritage.  Also because it's slow and soft and beautiful and has a cool beat.  And she likes when I sing along to it.
  12. Jane's Addiction - Stop!
    The first time I played this for her, I bounced her up and down vigorously along with the music - taking her up really high on the downbeats, particularly during the intro and chorus.  My wife thought I was going to scramble Alison's brains, but Alison seemed genuinely happy.  And it's hard to tell if a baby's brains are scrambled anyway, they don't do all that much higher-level thinking at this phase.
  13. U2 - Trip Through Your Wires
    U2 was another Amanda suggestion, and so far Alison has enjoyed most of what she heard.  This song seemed to be her favorite, meaning she fell asleep during it.  Right now her TTS (time to sleep) is a pretty indicator of how pleased she is with life overall.  Alison also seems to love "Ultraviolet (Light My Way)" but I'm not a huge fan of that song, so it didn't make the list.
  14. Grateful Dead - Box of Rain
    I think Amanda suggested this album, too, and Alison seemed to love every track, so I picked this one because it's awesome. And she just fell asleep to it while I was writing this, so that's one in the "plus" column.
  15. Radiohead - 4 Minute Warning
    I mentioned above the lullaby version of Radiohead CD a friend gave us - it got me thinking about Radiohead songs in general, and I had an inkling that this song might be lullaby-esque enough in its current state to work on a baby.  And I was right.  I ended up playing this about 10 times in a row one night as she gently drifted off to sleep in my arms.  [Editor's note: the fact that she woke up crying 10 minutes later has nothing to do with this song, that's apparently just how babies are sometimes.]
What do you think?  For those of you without kids, what would you put on a baby playlist?  If you have kids, what have you put on a baby playlist?  What worked?  What didn't?  Tell me in the comments.


Mister said...

Beautiful little girl! Good post. Please try some Mozart, Vivaldi, etc soon. I bet my granddaughter will love them! Or maybe I Feel Good by JB.

Jordan Hirsch said...

Thanks for the comment, Grampa. She's heard some Haydn and it seemed to calm her down a bit. Plenty more classical to come. And jazz...and a million other things. :)

Molly said...

Bebel Gilberto has been a hit at our house, as has "Foux Du Fafa" by Flight of the Conchords, so...this is of no help at all.

Kate H. said...

So sweet, Jordan. We are listening to the list now. My kids seem too enthralled with trying to crash Hot Wheels into each other to notice the music, but I'm pretty sure they love them all! Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Great blog. I am getting some of the songs.
Need more oldie goldie dance music. SUggest:
1) Boogie Wonderland - Earth wind and fire & Emotions
2) Tell Him - Exciters
3) Ain't to Proud to Beg - Temptations
4)I heard it through the grapevine - Marvin Gaye
5) I will survive - Diana Ross
6) Red red wine - UB40
7) Islands in the Stream - Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers
and non going to sleep:
8) Lake Charles - Lucinda Williams
Pony and Ed