Monday, January 2, 2012
Music We Love: “Strange Dees, Indeed” by the Deedle Deedle Dees
Music Review by Jack Silbert
I hadn’t even popped the CD into the player, and the group’s name had already brought to mind Fiddler on the Roof, Sinatra’s “Strangers in the Night,” and of course Rick Dees, who gave us that masterwork “Disco Duck.” Meanwhile, the album title was making me think of the John Lennon song “Nobody Told Me.” Most peculiar, mama!
Strange Dees, Indeed. You see, the Deedle Deedle Dees could be classified as “edutainment.” Each song teaches a topic. And while They Might Be Giants’ last couple of kids’ albums have focused on individual subjects (the alphabet and science), Strange Dees, Indeed zig-zags all across the curriculum with often joyous results.
We get songs about John Adams and wife Abigail, Cool Papa Bell of baseball’s Negro Leagues, Jewish folklore, Marie Curie, Sojourner Truth, British coins, trees, birds, Moby Dick, poet William Cullen Bryant, Henry Hudson, and just for good measure, a Hindu philosophy of conflict resolution. I even learned a different, and likely more correct way to pronounce Sacagawea (“suh-CAH-guh-WEE-uh”).
Kids will be singing along, assisted by Miller’s ve-ry clear e-nun-ci-a-tion. Full lyrics are available online (along with background info on songs, and reading suggestions). Of course, the ease of remembering song lyrics is what makes them such a great teaching tool. For example, on “River of Blood,” kids will be laughing and a tad grossed out as they learn the circulatory system. (Though for those of us of a certain age, the song will never touch Potsie Weber’s classic “Pump Your Blood” from Happy Days.)
Strange Dees, Indeed is perfect for mid-to-upper elementary school kids, who may then be inspired to do further research. For teachers covering any of the included topics, playing a song would be an ideal way to kick off a class discussion. At home, parents may find themselves tapping their feet and humming the melodies. My favorite tune here, “a song for Abigail Adams,” is a dreamy, mid-tempo, indie-rock ballad that would work even without the history lesson.
I was in such a kid-friendly mood after listening to this album, I secretly hoped that its producer, Dean Jones, was the same guy who starred in all those awesome ’60s and ’70s live-action Disney flicks. No such luck, but just imagine it: A music-video cameo from Herbie the Love Bug and The Shaggy D.A. ….
Jack Silbert is a writer of children's books, restaurant reviews, witty essays, and the like. He lives in Hoboken, N.J.