Occupy the crib! The top six protest albums for children

Children are revolting, and quite rightly too. Our offspring’s generation will be the first ever that might expect a poorer quality of life than their parents’. Thatcher stole our milk, but Cameron is stealing the whole motherflippin’ cow.

The babies of the revolution need to be armed with the kind of education you aren’t going to find on a Disney sing-a-long-and-buy-the-lunchbox-too CD. They need a soundtrack to the children’s uprising, and it’s going to be a loud one.

I asked some forward-thinking friends what music they might buy for their Conservative friends’ children.

Roy Bailey: Why Does it Have to Be Me? http://www.roybailey.net

Chosen by Tom Mycock – SWP activist, and frontman of storming sub-ska band The Splitters, who is expecting his own little revolutionary in the near future. “Some nonsense songs, some funny, some very moving. I remember my parents had a tape of it in the car and looking back I credit it with making a substantial contribution to my political development, especially the song Everything Possible which encapsulates the hope and optimism every child deserves. Roy is a lifelong Socialist who has been singing politically committed music since the 1960s.” This album was recorded for Bailey’s children and their peers in the 1980s – and he’s now recording albums for his grandchildren and their peers.

The Beatles (White Album) (EMI)

Gavin Martin, the Daily Mirror’s music critic and organiser of Talking Musical Revolutions, suggests seeking out a comprehensive ‘Best of the Beatles’ CD for your crib-bound comrade. “They have three songs called Revolution and their music is immediately elating to kids – and mind expanding too. The Beatles music at its essence is all about spiritual/mental love and aesthetic excellence. Yeah I know Concunts will link arms and sing Hey Jude, but we gotta have faith in new generation to set the Fabs in the Prism of Revolt.” The White Album also includes a song about a monkey – and all good children love a monkey.

Woody Guthrie: Nursery Days (Smithsonian Folkways)

On the birth of our son, we were given this CD by Simon Jones, editor of Third Way magazine. Woody Guthrie is known for his political folk music and guitar bearing the words ‘This Machine Kills Fascists’. Simon tells me, “I guess it’s no surprise that Woody ended up writing so many songs for children — he had 8 of his own. I like that, although he couldn’t ever separate himself from his poilitics, the songs are so unembarrassed and fleshy — full of farty shouty licky kids whose independence and cheekiness are things he wants them to retain. He doesn’t want them to be bullied or sold an identity. It’s just so joyful too. A guy with a horrific backstory who knows all about dust bowl poverty, but with children’s songs that are endlessly optimistic. That’s to say that his sense of revolution wasn’t just in identifying capitalist culprits, but in turning desperation into hope.”
This CD is a delightful collection of chirpy, catchy songs about playing nice with all the other kids, sharing your toys, and having fun. I love this, and so does my baby. I can’t wait for him to be old enough to understand the lyrics he’s starting to copy me singing.

Grace Petrie: Tell Me a Story and Feel Better  (www.gracepetrie.com)

Chosen by comedian Josie Long with an emphatic “Grace Petrie Grace Petrie Grace Petrie! She’s the real deal, a proper protest singer and a gifted pop song writer!” The Leicester-born indie-folkster began writing what The Guardian is now describing as ‘protest music’ after the 2010 election enraged her to write a song called Farewell to Welfare. These two albums are available from her website as a very comradely-priced £10 bundle and, while not strictly aimed at children, her sweet melodies and catchy lyrics are bound to be a hit with little ones as well as big ones.

They Might Be Giants: Here Comes Science (www.theymightbegiants.com)

Neil Scott – Scottish Socialist, blogger, and teacher tells me: “music is a brilliant way to teach children, and a social justice message is one that children are really receptive to because they have a really sharp sense of justice. They Might Be Giants have some brilliant kids songs and albums, and have been known to be quite political, though they are firmly, I fear, in the capitalist camp. They were the first group to set up an online store, which was purely to increase their profits – though I suppose you could say they were ensuring they got the full reward for their labour!” Entrepreneurs they may be, but the knowledge they’re arming our children with is a powerful weapon in the anti-capitalist revolution, so we can forgive them the shopping cart. Here Comes Science offers quirky tunes and lyrical genius such as ‘Photosynthesis does not involve a camera, or a synthesiser, although that’s interesting too’.

Kimya Dawson: Alphabutt (www.kimyadawson.com)

This one’s my choice, and I loved this long before I had a baby. Best known as the female half of the Moldy Peaches, Kimya Dawson recorded this brilliant children’s album, seemingly, in a garage full of children with instruments. The result is a collection of ridiculously catchy songs which combine toilet humour with an education in being a loving, sharing, playful citizen. This record really does hit all the spots: ‘I Like Bears’ makes my baby giggle; ‘Smoothie’ makes me get all teary with memories of pregnancy; ‘We’re All Animals’ makes the whole family cuddle in a bit closer (especially the cats); and ‘Sunbeams and Some Beans’ ends the album on an overtly anti-capitalist message which fills us with hope. This is the CD we buy all of our friends when they have babies – especially the Conservative ones.


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