Songs for the Road


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    Songs for the Road: 25 grownup tunes that your kids will love

    There's only so much bouncy, silly, wildly infectious music a parent can take. If you wake up every morning with "Under the Sea" stuck in your head, and the last concert you went to was "The Wiggles: Live," then we say it's time to take back the iPod. Here's a master mix of grown-up tunes that your kids will also love, designed with your next car trip in mind. There are some classics, some newcomers, and even a grown-up song about bananas. Roll down the windows, turn up the volume, and enjoy.
  • Van Morrison: Jackie Wilson Said (Im In Heaven When You Smile) 2 of 27
    There are few songs written for an audience over the age of four that include the lyrics "Ding-a-ling-a-ling-ding," but Van Morrison manages to pull it off.
  • Jackson Five: ABC 3 of 27
    What could be more appropriate for our list than a song that helps kids with the alphabet and schools them in pop-music history?
  • Feist: 1234 4 of 27
    Now that we've covered our letters, we have to talk about our numbers. This indie-pop hit, which became famous after it was featured in an iPod ad, is the perfect way to do it. Just make sure your kids know we don't actually count "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, and 10," as Feist does in the song.
  • R.E.M./Kate Pierson: Shiny Happy People 5 of 27
    R.E.M. performed a special version of this song on Sesame Street. You're free to put "Furry, Happy Monsters" on your play list, but we'll stick with the original, which is every bit as kid-friendly.
  • Jack Johnson: Banana Pancakes 6 of 27
    We agree with Jack Johnson: Nothing says "weekend" like sleeping late and eating a big batch of homemade pancakes in bed. If your life no longer affords you this sort of luxury, you can at least recapture that feeling with this easygoing tune.
  • Peter, Bjorn, and John: Nothing to Worry About 7 of 27
    Who better to include on our kid-friendly playlist than the band that gave us the song "Young Folks"? Their other single is just as catchy and features a chorus of kids singing.
  • Billy Idol: Dancing With Myself 8 of 27
    It may surprise you to know that Gonzo sang this Billy Idol hit on the show Muppets Tonight. Whichever version you choose for your mix is sure to be a hit with kids, who love to dance under any circumstances.
  • Manu Chao: Me Gustas Tu 9 of 27
    "Me gustas" means "I like," which is fitting since this reggae-esque song is simply a list of all of the things Manu Chao likes. Not only is this a great way to introduce your little ones to Spanish, it also provides a perfect car game: Every time Manu Chao sings "me gustas," you can add your own favorite things to the list.
  • Paolo Nutini: New Shoes 10 of 27
    On this upbeat, folky track, Paolo Nutini sings, "I put some new shoes on and suddenly everything is right." He's onto something. New shoes just make you feel good, a sentiment that everyone from a toddler 8 to a women's 10 can appreciate.
  • Ted Leo: Six Months in a Leaky Boat 11 of 27
    Yes, the Wiggles have also done a cover of this Split Enz song, but in Ted Leo's hands, it transforms from the silly anthem of Captain Feathersword's ship to a driving, punk-rock anthem. Split Enz lead singer Tim Finn wrote this song about his nervous breakdown, but you don't have to tell the kiddos that; just let them keep thinking it's about pirates.
  • Police: De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da 12 of 27
    "De do do do do, De da da da " is all Sting wants to say to you. It may also be all your toddler can say to you right now, which makes this hit by the Police a perfect choice for our song list.
  • Simon and Garfunkel: Me and Julio 13 of 27
    Any song that includes characters like "Mama Pajama" and "Rosie, the Queen of Corona" is probably going to appeal to children.
  • Harry Chapin: Circle 14 of 27
    Everyone needs a good sing-a-long sometimes. The words to this tune are easy enough for kids to grasp but have a nice wise and weathered quality. Listen to this live version, when Harry gets the roadies in on the act.
  • Dar Williams: Better Things 15 of 27
    Everybody has bad days sometimes. Whether it's you or your toddler who woke up on the wrong side of the bed, this song is a great, non-annoying reminder to look on the bright side of life.
  • Wilco and Billy Bragg: California Stars 16 of 27
    With its dreamy lyrics and relaxed guitar strumming, this is the perfect song for a pre-naptime drive. Sweet dreams!
  • De Novo Dahl: Shout 17 of 27
    Think of this song as the grown-up version of "Shake Your Sillies Out." De Novo Dahl encourages you to "Shout! Shout! Let all your feelings out," but they don't make you do any silly hand motions.
  • Polyphonic Spree: Hold Me Now 18 of 27
    With their sunny sound and colorful robes, the Polyphonic Spree has an undeniable appeal to kids. However, their symphonic rock sound is complex enough to hold adults' attention. "Hold Me Now" is our pick for this list because of its uplifting lyrics. (Plus, the video features fuzzy puppets running around enchanted forests.)
  • David Bowie and Mick Jagger: Dancin’ In the Street 19 of 27
    Anytime Bowie and Jagger get together, you can expect a good party. This is one you can actually bring your kids to.
  • Bob Marley: Three Little Birds 20 of 27
    The only other times in life when little birds appear to offer people advice are in Disney movies and fairy tales, two genres with which your children are probably familiar. Besides, it's illegal to make a summertime mix that doesn't include at least one Bob Marley song.
  • Beatles: Hey Jude 21 of 27
    Aside from being a rock classic and a great sing-along song, "Hey Jude" makes our list because it was kid-inspired. Paul McCartney wrote it for John Lennon's five-year-old son Julian to comfort him during his parent's divorce. Even in happier times, the message, "Take a sad song and make it better," is always a good one.
  • Yo La Tengo: My Little Corner of the World 22 of 27
    Although it's not a Yo Le Tengo original, their version of this song is the perfect fit for our list. The sound is nice and mellow and the lyrics sound like something out of an old-fashioned lullaby, "Come along with me to my little corner of the world. Dream a little dream in my little corner of the world."
  • The Pretenders: Brass in Pocket 23 of 27
    Encourage your kids' self-esteem by teaching them the lyrics to this song: "I'm special, so special." With any luck, they'll grow up to have Chrissie Hynde's level of confidence.
  • Beach Boys: Wouldnt It Be Nice 24 of 27
    Brian Wilson once described this song as "what children everywhere go through." He seems to have been onto something. How many times have you heard your own little ones say that they can't wait until they're big enough to … (fill in the blank)? Now they can sing about it too!
  • Al Green: L-O-V-E 25 of 27
    As long as we're learning our alphabet and numbers, we might as well do some spelling with Al Green. What better word to learn to spell than love?
  • Tally Hall: The Whole World and You 26 of 27
    One listen to their bouncy melodies and whimsical lyrics, and it's almost hard to believe that Tally Hall is not writing kid's music. Apparently, Crayola agrees. They've featured this song in one of their ads. We just love the sweet lyrics like, "Even the animals know that something's brewing, and they're all cooing. ‘Cause in the end I'd like to say, no one's better than you!"
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Article Posted 5 years Ago

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