Two Blues to Make People Happy
Posted March 13, 2013on:
I stumbled over the same idea twice in two completely different places this week.
I’m studying up for an event that I’m getting to participate in early this coming June. The Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation is hosting their annual Tinner Hill Blues Festival and I’m honored to have been asked to share Singable Blues related picture books with children at the Mary Riley Styles Public Library in Falls Church, VA. We worked out the song/book list from my existing repertoire, but I am interested in learning more and finding new Singable Picture Books to suit this delightful subject.
This was on my mind when…
On Monday, I got to visit Ms. Campbell’s class and we enjoyed I’m in Love with a Big Blue Frog. Two things about the song confuse the kids a little. When the Big Blue Frog is said to have “Rhythm and a PhD,” kids generally want to know what a PhD is. Great to know they are paying attention enough to ask about that! If I were smart (and I plan to get smart any day now) I’d remember to give them a brief explanation of terms before hand). They also want to know about the PHROG. They’ll speak up and want to know what that’s all about. I tell them how in the crazy English Language, PH makes an F sound, and how I think that the reason the songwriter put that into the song is because it gives a second example of how the singer (or narrator of the story) is willing to look at things in a different way. She falls in love with a Big Blue Frog (to which one of the children responded, “and how many people do you know who fall in love with Big Blue Frogs?”) and she spells “frog” PHROG.
The same child said, “Also, I think it’s just to be funny. Sometimes people make things up just to make people happy.” From a child in Kindergarten!
The next day I was searching around for Blues Related Singable Picture Books and stumbled on a video featuring the late night talk show host and comic Conan teaching a group of school children about The Blues and working with these first graders to write a Blues song. Hilarity results, but he begins by telling them the purpose of the Blues as a musical art form, ”Now, here’s what we do. To write the Blues, you write about something that’s making you unhappy. And by singing about something that makes you unhappy, it makes you feel better…”
Interesting that in two musical Blues, we get examples of how the existence of it makes us happy! I also like how, though I’m in Love with a Big Blue Frog is not traditionally a Blues song, it does fit Conan’s definition in that the song deals with a subject that is painful for some (interracial couples not feeling welcome in their communities) in a way that has the potential to be humorous and to make people happy.
I’m in Love with a Big Blue Frog
Words and Music by Leslie Braunstein
Performed by Peter Paul & Mary
Illustrated by Joshua S. Brunet
THE BLUES, in Illustrated and Otherwise Musically Related Picture Books (yet another list inspired by Nikki)
Singable Picture Books Celebrating Tolerance and Compassion (another list inspired by Nikki)
AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY MONTH
A list of Singable Picture Books that celebrate February is African American History Month
MARTIN LUTHER KING, Jr.
A list of SPBs celebrating the life, legacy and January 16 National Holiday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
PETER YARROW SONGBOOK
A list of the Singable Picture Books from the Peter Yarrow Songbook series:
The Folk Process and Peter Yarrow’s Songbook Series
Peter Yarrow Songbook Series, the Importance of Singing for Others and the Folk Process
FUNNY SINGABLE PICTURE BOOKS
That’s Hilarious! A List of Singable Picture Books that’ll Crack You Up!
TWO BLUES TO MAKE PEOPLE HAPPY