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July 13, 2006

Athena Mix '06


Athena was complaining that she was getting bored with the music CDs I had made her earlier, and started hinting that she might want to start listening to those terrifying Kidz BOP CDs if I didn't do something about it. Thus, the Athena Mix '06, filled with a combination of music which, hopefully, will turn her from the terror of the sing-along empire of crap that the Kidz BOP CDs represent. Here's what's on the CD:

1. "Three Small Words," from the Josie & The Pussycats soundtrack -- Yes, I know what you're going to say. But, you know what? The songs for this movie were written by the guy from Fountains of Wayne and sung by the chick from Letters to Cleo, and they don't suck. This song is happy and peppy and that's fine.

2. "Starlight" by Muse -- from the band's brand-spankin' new CD Black Holes and Revelations. The entire CD is what you would expect from a band that's been fed nothing but Queen and space opera SF, and this song in particular is like Queen's "39" pumped full of Red Bull and ecstasy. Irresistable.

3. "Vacation" by the Go Gos -- Because if you're going to go 80s girl band, why not go Go Gos?

4. "The Rock Show" by Blink-182 -- a mildly inappropriate choice, because the band lays a big fat profanity right in the middle of the song, but Athena already likes Blink-182, and she knows that if she uses profanity, there's going to be trouble here in River City. There have been a couple other songs she likes that have bad words in them, and she's not taken to singing them with the profanity in them, so she's got a track record of being trustworthy about these things, and that's nice.

5. "Dreaming" by Blondie -- For my money, the best Blondie song.

6. "Love Cats" by the Cure -- Whimsical and slinky fun, and probably a better match for Athena's personality at the moment than other Cure songs. We'll introduce her to Disintegration gradually.

7. "Since U Been Gone" by Kelly Clarkson -- Yeah, Kelly Clarkson. Go on, make something of it.

8. "This is Holloween" from the Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack -- because how is she going to become a goth if you don't start her off early? This is actually one of her favorite songs.

9. "Celebrity Skin" by Hole -- Back when Courtney Love wasn't completely and entirely insane. Great noise.

10. "Enjoy the Silence (Reinterpreted)" by Depeche Mode -- A lot noiser and more aggressive than the original, and rather a bit better for it.

11. "I Love You Always Forever" by Donna Lewis -- Nice pretty song. I rather inexplicably have a soft spot for it. Really can't explain it. Afraid to try. Suspect that on that path lies madness.

12. "Polly Wolly Doodle" by Dan Zanes -- Hey! A song from an actual children's album! Because, you know. Why not.

13. "Run Baby Run" by Garbage -- Athena's been a fan of Garbage for a while now, and I can't say I disapprove.

14. "Song 2" by Blur -- When Athena was 18 months old or so, she used to stomp around the house screaming "Whoo-hoo!" whenever this song came on. Time for a reunion between the two.

15. "Everyday" by Erasure -- a cover of the Buddy Holly song. She'll like it better this way.

16. "Whisper to a Scream (Birds Fly)" by Icicle Works -- Catchy minor 80s hit. Athena's interested in drumming, and this has thumpety thumpety thump drums all through it.

17. "She Bop" by Cyndi Lauper -- Yes, I know what it's about. However, Athena doesn't.

18. "Jump Jive an Wail" by Brian Setzer Orchestra -- Gets you hoppin' and boppin', which is what your basic seven-year-old needs.

19. "Mr. Brightside" by the Killers -- So she knows early what depressed boys pining sounds like.

20. "Re: Your Brains" by Jonathan Coulton -- Because there are frankly too few songs about zombies and corporate speak; also, she get a kick out of singing the chorus, which goes "All we want to do is eat your brains!" How can you not like that?

That's what I'm feeding my kid musically.

Posted by john at July 13, 2006 07:06 PM

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Clearmoon | July 13, 2006 09:06 PM

That is one eclectic (and pretty much badass) set of tracks. You can DJ my bash anytime.

As a lover of good music, have you checked out Pandora [www.pandora.com] yet? You feed it a favorite song or artist, and it plays a continuous stream of songs from other artists it thinks you might enjoy. All free, and a great way to discover new bands!

John Scalzi | July 13, 2006 09:13 PM

Yeah, been to Pandora. It's okay. I can program a "radio" station for myself on Rhapsody, which I have a subscription to, and that's what I usually do.

Chang | July 13, 2006 09:44 PM

7. "Since U Been Gone" by Kelly Clarkson -- Yeah, Kelly Clarkson. Go on, make something of it.

This song rocks! it plays when my wife calls just so my daughter Sophia can hear it. Hey, Scalzi? Why is it Italians give their kids Greek names?

10. "Enjoy the Silence (Reinterpreted)" by Depeche Mode -- A lot noiser and more aggressive than the original, and rather a bit better for it.

Is this from the remix discs? I love that. Someday when we move into a house and can unpack the other 75% of our belongings - I think by 2008 - I will have this disc again.

15. "Everyday" by Erasure -- a cover of the Buddy Holly song. She'll like it better this way.

Sorry, but Erasure is wicked... crap.

16. "Whisper to a Scream (Birds Fly)" by Icicle Works -- Catchy minor 80s hit. Athena's interested in drumming, and this has thumpety thumpety thump drums all through it.

Wayyyyyy cooolll!!!! I pretended I liked a girl in High school so I could listen to her tape of this and ignore her. Yeah, I was a jerk then, but it was high school...

I'd like to ask your permission before I pimp my mix I made for my daughter. Please?

John Scalzi | July 13, 2006 09:46 PM

Sure, go ahead.

Chang | July 13, 2006 09:48 PM

P.S. If you are my mentor for the SLF Mentr thingie you may score some sweeeeeeet mix CD's in the process. Not to influence the decision or anything. Much. A lot.

Can I write my bio in crayon?

Bill Marcy | July 13, 2006 09:57 PM

Once one has heard the chorus to Jon Coulton's 'Your Brains', one is hooked. I hum it all the time.

Everyone can check itout here: http://www.jonathancoulton.com/lyrics/re-your-brains

Give the guy a break and toss him some money, because he is that good.

Chang | July 13, 2006 10:03 PM

Okay, here's the mix for my kid on her second bus trip with my wife down south to Massachusetts:

1. "Run Chicken Run" - Link Wray. Without Link, there would be no power chord. And without Link there would be no Pete Townsend, Dick Dale or Steve Albini.

2. "Addis A Baba" - Willie Williams & The All Stars. A weird gem of a reggae track. I played this every day we drove to school last year and I still love it. Why is every other reggae band of this era so and so and the all stars?

3. "Little Star" - Madonna. Don't even. Don't even think about it. Saw MAdge on Tuesday and it was a religious experience. I love Itlian -American women and I was with the 1st sexiest one in the joint that night. Second was telling me to dance from her perch on the stage.

4. "Shake It Up The Cars" -The Cars. A damn fine song. I have yet to hear the Cars with Todd Rundgren. But why should I?

5. "Jackson (with June Carter)" - Johnny Cash. There is a special place in my heart for Johnny. And one of my most favorite memories is of my then three year old singing "But I shot a man in Reno/Just to watch him die." Ah, youth.

6. "Twist And Shout" - The Beatles. Duh!

7. "Raghupati" - Bhagavan Das. Produced by Mike D of the Beastie Boys. I will never tire of this song. Sophia calls Bhagavan Das the big bearded smelly man, but having been up close to him and getting hugged by him I have to say he is not all that unpleasant smelling.

8. "Cry, Cry, Cry" - Johnny Cash. More Johnny. The whole disc could've been Johnny and she'd be happy.

9. "Silver" - Echo & The Bunnymen. I bought the re-release of this and she proceeded to make me jump all over the disc and listening to all the songs. What a great album. TO think I didnt get it when it came out. I was a foo'!

10. "The Heart's a Lonely Hunter"- Thievery Corporation & David Byrne. Byrne sings and I swear he's just spouting stream of consciousness lyrics. Sounds like Byrne and Fela. Kind of.

11. "Jump" - Aztec Camera. Someday she will find this funny. For now she is puzzled by it.

12. "Train Of Love" - Johnny Cash. See above.

13. "Move It On Over"- Hank Williams. Her nickname is Puparoo. Her grandfather is Big Dog. This is just a good old-timey sing-along. Yee har.

Thanks for the plug. It's constantly being added too. Slowly.

Paul | July 13, 2006 10:09 PM

I generally don't like 80s music, but Whisper To A Scream is one of the best songs ever.

John Joseph Adams | July 13, 2006 10:33 PM

What, no Hatebeak?

John Scalzi | July 13, 2006 10:47 PM

We're saving that for second grade.

David Kirkpatrick | July 13, 2006 11:35 PM

The video for 'Whisper to a Scream' is up on Youtube, if such things are of interest. There are quite a few memorable videos from the 80s there - Amazulu's cover of 'Montego Bay', Martha & the Muffin's 'Echo Beach', Tanita Tikaram's 'We Almost Got It Together', Bobby McFerrin's 'Don't Worry, Be Happy' (with Robin Williams!), and Warren Zevon's 'Leave My Monkey Alone', to name a few of my favorites. Now I just need a video iPod to carry them with me everywhere....

Wickedpinto | July 14, 2006 12:23 AM

I had a friend who was a musician, he wasn't an arrogant musician, thinking ONLY his kind of music was the pre-eminant form. Kinda like how you are a Sci-Fi-ish/future world writer, but would you deny your daughter nancy drew, or fantasy books, or an occasional excursion into other forms?

anyways, my friend, had 2 kids, (at this time the boy is 13, the daughter is 6, and I haven't seen them in about 4 years, though I've seen my friend, anyways) and the son, at the age of 5, would engage in full conversations, just plain a SMART FLOGGING KID! I know a lot of kids (I'm old enough that most of my friends have them, and I don't, but his kids were friggen just plain smart!) and this friends son, and daughter would start saying stuff that left me almost speachless.

For instance, during the 2K election, my bud and I, he's a dem, I'm a 'pub, watched the election together for about 12 hours before we gave up, the son woke up, came downstairs for a glass of water(no soda for him), and he said, while his father and I were drunk off our asses, and barely conscious, "You know? theres something wrong when it takes this long!" My bud and I laughed our asses off, and I went home.

Later, my friend, like I said, he's a musician, he has a small, relatively proffitable local sound studio, and when he was 15 he moved to Cali, to go to "GIT", and I were driving in his car, his son wanted to come along while we were going to "guitar center" and my buddy said okay.

While we were driving, NO KIDDING! this kid, let me correct, I haven't seen those kids in 4 years, cuz the son was almost 8.

My friend and I were in the front seat, the son was in the back, and we were listening to a batch of 80's new wave music that I had put together, and the son interrupted us from the back seat, and we turned down the music. Swear to god, the kid started quizing us about, home safety, fire safety and about proper diet.

I will avoid the rest of the specific story, but later when the son was away from us and it was just my friend and I alone, I said "where'd he get all that from?"

My friend "I don't know, but the only thing I think that makes us(himself and his wife, and his friends) is that there is always music. ALWAYS music, I think that makes him want to learn.

Truthfully? based on periods of my experience? I can't argue.

Though many of your song choices I don't like? they are ecclectic enough to make Athena an ecclectic thinker who will grasp onto all information and find value in it.

Was that a long way for nothing? or did I successfully aesop this post, as I wished?

Bruce Adelsohn | July 14, 2006 01:23 AM

John, I think you would appreciate <((sm))all ages>. It's a music blog dedicated to music for kids that doesn't suck. And with a tagline of "because noone should have to listen to the Wiggles. ever." it sounds like she's on the same road as you, with regard to kids' music.

(I admit it. Our kids heard -- and one adored -- the Wiggles. And hey, the adults even liked some of it. The first time. :-} On the other hand, they get Pete Seeger, Peter Gabriel, Bruce Springsteen, Woody Guthrie, the Decemberists, the Beatles, and whatever else the better half and I dig out of our memory at bedtime. Then they hear them sung properly in the daytime. It balances out, in the end. :-)

Rhiannon_s | July 14, 2006 06:23 AM

You should really mix some Robbie Williams in theretoo you know. Let Me Entertain You, or Angels.

Or Men at Work's Land Down Under, that's cool song. OR if you wanted to be evil:

Steve Buchheit | July 14, 2006 07:49 AM

Warp 'em young. Life is too short to listen to bad music.

Brandon | July 14, 2006 08:08 AM

Love the Kelly Clarkson song. If you don't have it already, the Springsteen Seeger Sessions cd is fantastic, and great for kids. Lots of up tempo songs to keep them hyper and nary a bad word amongst them.

Hugh Casey | July 14, 2006 09:13 AM

For kids music that isn't insipid, check out the duo "Trout Fishing In America". (http://www.troutmusic.com/) They are a fine, fine family oriented fold duo who make great music that's perfect for kids and adults enjoy too. Their album "Big Trouble" is probably the one to start off with.

Chang | July 14, 2006 09:19 AM

Hey, Hugh Casey?

They are a fine, fine family oriented fold duo who make great music that's perfect for kids and adults enjoy too.

Wassa fold duo? That some french thing?

Jack Scheer | July 14, 2006 09:42 AM

"Three Small Words" is a wonderful, fun song. I had it in heavy rotation for several weeks when it first came out. I think it's time to dig up the mp3 from my archives and give it another listen. Thanks for the reminder.

Jim | July 14, 2006 09:53 AM

My favorite obscure musical find was:
A Very Scary Solstice by The HP Lovecraft Historical Society.

Adam Lipkin | July 14, 2006 09:56 AM

Some great choices there. Incidentally, not only do I second everything you say about "Three Small Words" (and the rest of that soundtrack), but I'd go so far as to call Josie one of the more underrated (and criminally mismarketed) movies of the last decade. We introduced Elayna to it a couple of months ago (and unlike her parents, she'd never grown up with the cartoon, and wasn't impressed with the occasional rerun on Boomerang), and she adored it.

We've also gotten her quite hooked on Great Big Sea (because every kid needs some Newfoundland folk-rock) and Flogging Molly.

John Scalzi | July 14, 2006 10:14 AM

Adam Lipkin:

"I'd go so far as to call Josie one of the more underrated (and criminally mismarketed) movies of the last decade."

It is awfully damn funny, and that's a fact no one really knew. I remember showing it to a friend of mine last year who admitted that he never would have watched it if I hadn't made him do so, but that he thought it was a hoot when he did.

Also: Rosario Dawson. Brain-scramblingly lovely.

Rikhei | July 14, 2006 10:55 AM

How can I not approve of a mix with Enjoy the Silence on it?

Kero aka Kevin | July 14, 2006 11:07 AM

Have you listened to The Decemberists? Their latest has a long sea shanty that is very addictive and overall they don't sound like anyone else I've listened to.

Timothy McClanahan | July 14, 2006 11:18 AM


Maybe you should make a disc of just all the novelty song one-hit wonders from the 80s - the decade was filled with some great ones:

Safety Dance
Puttin on the Ritz

And some of those videos are great. I especially like the one for Love Stinks, with the dummer using fish for drumsticks.

Jon Marcus | July 14, 2006 11:29 AM

> 17. "She Bop" by Cyndi Lauper -- Yes, I know what it's about. However, Athena doesn't.

Oh sure, she doesn't know now. But in a few years, when she finds out? Then you'll be sorry.

I can just imagine Athena coming home from school one day:
"Daddy...do you that CD you made me back when I was a little kid? The one with that 'She Bop' song on it? Daddy...she's conjugating! Ewwww!!"

andrew | July 14, 2006 11:33 AM

I’m really pleased to see Muse in your list John. I think of them as taking what were always the coolest parts of Radiohead (meaning Queen) and leaving most of the rest for Coldplay and its various clones.

I’ve managed to turn my 10-year-old son onto early Bowie. “Life on Mars” and “Space Oddity” sound like grand sci-fi films for the mind to him. Which are probably the most important aspects of those songs anyway right?

One of his favourite songs though? The Ramones cover of “Spider-man”—it always bring a tear to my eye to see him rockin’ out to that.

Josh Jasper | July 14, 2006 11:55 AM

Either Birdhouse In Your Soul or Istanbul (Not Constantinople) by They Might Be Giants.

Or you could just get her No! which is a kid's album anyway.

Andrew | July 14, 2006 12:10 PM

I'll echo the reccomendation for "Trout Fishing in America" - they're a ton of fun.
Also, VeggieTales, the christian (small c) children's video series has a bunch of fun albumns, and one entirely of rock covers of their songs, which if you know the originals is hilarious.

David Huff | July 14, 2006 01:16 PM

Third vote for the Trouts. Good stuff.

On my third-graders MP3 player, I recently loaded:

  • Cheeseburger in Paradise, Jimmy Buffet
  • Complicated, Avril Lavigne
  • Sharp Dressed Man, ZZ Top
  • Viva Las Vegas, ZZ Top
  • Explosion!, Shonen Knife
  • Barbara Ann, Beach Boys
  • Crocodile Rock, Elton John

amongst other things...

Karl | July 14, 2006 02:05 PM

What kind of guitar is Athena jamming on in the pic?

John Scalzi | July 14, 2006 02:07 PM

A Danelectro. It has built in reverb!

Dr. Phil | July 14, 2006 02:28 PM

Mmm... Blondie. Anything from their first three albums. Then there's Quarterflash... but some of the lyrics are a little creepy (Take Another Picture, High on Williams Avenue), but sax and vocals... mmm.

From personal experience, the all-time best long distance road trip cut is Pirates from Emerson, Lake and Palmer Works Volume I. There is nothing like driving through rain storms on narrow back roads in Quebec with that pumping on the van's stereo. (Hey, it was 1978, of COURSE it was a 1977 Chevy van.)

Dr. Phil

Anonymous | July 14, 2006 03:12 PM

A Danelectro. It has built in reverb!


Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little | July 14, 2006 03:25 PM

Jon Marcus, your She Bob commentary was excellent.

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little | July 14, 2006 03:38 PM

Or "She Bop" even.

"She Bob" is probably someone else.

John H | July 14, 2006 05:19 PM

I always like Blondie's Rapture because it sounded like something someone stoned out of their mind would come up with...

John C | July 14, 2006 06:26 PM

I always thought that Bow Wow Wow's "I Like Candy" sounded like a kids song that took a wrong turn somewhere. And it's originally a 60's song (Stangeloves), AND it has some great drums. She might like it.

Adam Lipkin | July 15, 2006 09:48 AM

John C -- alas, Aaron Carter covered "I Want Candy" a few years ago (back before his voice broke and he was tabloid fodder). When we tried to get our daughter to listen to the Bow Wow Wow version (which was, I'm pretty sure, sung by a sixteen-year-old), she couldn't get into it, even though it's leagues better.

Jack Zall | July 15, 2006 03:50 PM

O dead sweet zombie Jesus... I just went and looked up "Re:Your Brains," and it is possibly the greatest thing ever. Not just as far as music goes, I mean that is the pinnacle of human achievement as of this date. Thank you for pointing it out.

Jack Zall | July 15, 2006 03:51 PM

I swear, that was supposed to say "DEAR sweet zombie etcetera..."

John Scalzi | July 15, 2006 05:35 PM

Glad you're enjoying that, Jack.

Wickedpinto | July 15, 2006 09:22 PM

John C -- alas, Aaron Carter covered "I Want Candy" a few years ago (back before his voice broke and he was tabloid fodder). When we tried to get our daughter to listen to the Bow Wow Wow version (which was, I'm pretty sure, sung by a sixteen-year-old), she couldn't get into it, even though it's leagues better.

Posted by: Adam Lipkin

Are teh strangeloves the writers?

I wan't candy, isn't about candy, it's about a "lollipop" yes, but it isn't the one made of sugar.

R | July 16, 2006 07:17 AM

ALl I can say is that is one hell of an awesome play list - a man after my own heart!

Don | July 17, 2006 04:35 PM

I got to see Coulton perform "Re:Your Brains" live at Jammin Java in Vienna (see what you miss having left NoVA, JS?) and he turned it into an audience participation song. It was awesome even before he started singing - he tells us okay, when I sing a line a little higher and louder than the others, on the next line you're all sing "ALL WE WANT TO DO IS EAT YOUR BRAINS." Got it?

He runs us through it a few times and says "That's good. A little too good, actually - don't forget you're supposed to be the undead, after all."

Becky | July 20, 2006 05:29 PM

Psst! Where's the MP3 of this year's mix? I have last year's Athena mix in rotation on my iPod.

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