Music That's Not Just for Kids

Living in Lyons, even going into Boulder counts as a road trip, and I have a box full of CDs that make being on the road feel more like a magical mystery tour and less like an “are we there yet” debacle. Nothing makes getting there more fun than music, and often times my son is so engrossed by the CD he doesn’t want to get out of the car.

Listen Local:
Here are two local musicians who have a delightful way of getting across their profound message of our place—and our children’s—in the scheme of things.
Jeff Kagan 21st Century Energy Superheroes (2011)
Kagan’s latest CD gives science some much-needed funk. He and co-hero Paige Doughty present kid-friendly tracks on climate change, eating local, bicycle power, and positivity.  Who knew photosynthesis could be so entertaining? Goofy and endearing, this CD is a must for all budding environmentalists (

David Williams Wild Bear Nature (2011)
Williams has a smoky, deep voice redolent with humor and rhythm. His latest album weaves a folksy, bluegrassy spell around the animal kingdom and gets to the heart of our connection to wildlife. This Emmy-winning songwriter, who lives in Nederland, wrote the CD with Nederland’s own Wild Bear Ecology Center in mind. This CD is the perfect soundtrack to all forays into high and low country alike, as well as a catchy entry point to the wildness within (

Groove Global:
Even though the music be rockin’ inside the Boulder bubble, don’t neglect the vast array of kids’ music at large that can make you rise up singing. Here is what’s currently high on my playlist.
Elizabeth Mitchell Sunny Day (2010)
No kids music roundup can be complete (in my book, anyway) without a shout out to Elizabeth Mitchell, who captures the poetry of childhood just right. Sunny Day, her latest album, doesn’t disappoint. Twangy, stirring, and immediately accessible, Mitchell sings about life’s simple pleasures with exquisite clarity (
Alastair Moock These Are My Friends (2011)
Get your hootenanny on with a little help from Moock’s entourage of friends, which include stale French Fries, paper clips, and the other desiderata of children’s vibrant imagination. With a stellar guest singer lineup, and invoking a wide range of American folk traditions, this album (releases October 4th) has the gravitas of an instant classic (

Justin Roberts Jungle Gym (2010)
This is Roberts’ seventh album for families, and he is the master of conveying the child and adult’s perspective—simultaneously—quite a feat. Recently profiled in the New York Times, Roberts’ songs are inventive, quirky, and infectious. They bring out the poignant mix of bravado and vulnerability that is the dominant tenor of childhood. I can think of no better guide for the maelstrom of emotions that kids are heir to, or any savvier way to fend off the NR4NP (Not Ready for Nap Time) blues (

Dan Zanes Little Nut Tree (2011)
If Zanes isn’t on your music radar, rectify.  Zanes’ hip, multicultural approach has you shaken your booty no matter the time of day. A former lead singer for the Del Fuegos, Zanes defies the terms kids music: this is truly music you will be listening too even when you are alone in your car. Little Nut Tree (releases September 27) includes collaborations with a wide range of funk and soul vocalists guaranteed to have you belting along (

Have a favorite kids album that you would like to share? Clue me in—I love to expand my horizons, musical and otherwise.


Elizabeth Marglin is a freelance writer who has recently had articles published in Natural Health, Backpacker, Colorado Home & Lifestyles, and FitPregnancy. She just finished coauthoring The Mother’s Wisdom Deck, an oracle deck designed specifically for mothers, which will be published by Sterling Publishing for Mother’s Day 2012. Before she became a mother her life included travel, adventure, meditation, yoga, rock-climbing, and reading. Now diapers, whining, domestic drudgery, boogie butlering, and stain removing comprise the bulk of her day-to-day activities. Save for the rich vein of never-before-imagined love that flows through her life, keeping her merrily afloat, she would need to be talked down from the edge. She lives with her husband and has two children, Jordan Luca, age 4, and Oriah Jasmine, age 1.