Saturday, June 29, 2013

In Review--Songs for Campfires

American Playground
Putumayo Kids 

Since I’m a childless adult, I usually avoid children’s CDs, but in the case of Putumayo Kids’ American Playground, I find myself reflecting on my childhood.  In fact, you don’t have to be either American or a child to enjoy American Playground, but it helps if you are familiar with American folk of the classic variety.  This compilation features such rainy day favorites as Blue Skies, You Are My Sunshine, the gospel tune, This Little Light and Bob Dylan’s 1974 tribute to his son, Forever Young.  With the songs (country, folk, bluegrass, blues, gospel) on this CD, we feel forever youthful and we find ourselves singing along as if we’re sitting around the proverbial campfire.

While any of these songs (even though some of the text carries adult themes about broken hearts) would appeal to children, Alan Lomax and other song catchers would have a field day with this compilation--pun intended.  In fact, Woody Guthrie’s This Land is Your Land which I sung gleefully as a child, gives us pause for thought given the current political situation in the US which has given “our land” away to corporate interest.  And Woody Guthrie was equal activist-songwriter.  Guy Davis’ original (the only non-cover on the CD), We All Need More Kindness in This World acts as the antidote to political shenanigans, reminding us that those everyday acts of kindness by individuals are what keeps a nation healthy.

This compilation has a release date near July 4, which allows me at least to keep things in perspective.  Instead of celebrating the usual hypocritical patriotism involving the usual indulgences (fireworks and barbecued flesh), I prefer to reflect on individuals and communities who bring healing to them selves and others, while working towards true equality and creating harmony through music and the arts.  And by the way, I love the American Playground because it’s light, fun, playful as well as, thoughtful.

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