Friday, February 27, 2009

Of Mochilas and Sopa de Caracol

We play children’s music at our place during what feels like every waking hour. I function best when I have some background noise, my boys love it, and very early on I realized that it would be an effortless, fun way to expose them to more Spanish. So most of the children’s music I play is in Spanish, usually until my husband can’t take it anymore and begs me to play anything—anything!—in English.

I’ve tried to build up a collection of non-screechy music that both my kids and I enjoy, but as much as I love José Luis Orozco, Cri-Cri and Suni Paz, you can really only play your selection of children’s CDs so many times before you feel like you just can’t take it anymore. I sneak in some NPR on the Metro and listen to music when I’m alone in the car, but I started to miss the days when I used to blast the music just for the sake of blasting it, the days when I would sing along and dance around the living room for no reason at all, except that the music energized me and made me happy.

Then I had the simplest, most obvious of revelations: My boys can enjoy my music, too. In fact, when I think about the music of my childhood, I think not of the children’s records that I used to put on the record player over and over again, but rather of the folk music my mother used to play, music by the Chad Mitchell Trio and Peter, Paul and Mary. I bought those albums as an adult, because they reminded me so much of my childhood and I couldn’t imagine not owning them. And although my boys enjoy our children’s CDs, I want them to remember my music, too. I want them to hear a song thirty years from now and remember dancing around the living room with their Mama.

Right now we’re very much into Latin music, the catchier the better. Our current (eclectic) playlist:

El Tiburón by Proyecto Uno. This is their absolute favorite, for some reason. You go un poquito más suave and then un poquito más duro, and chant about chocolate and canela.

Mi bombón by Cabas. It’s all about the teléfono going ring-ring and the corazón going ton-ton. Love it.

Limón y sal by Julieta Venegas. This is our mellow song, the one I rock my babies (who are no longer babies) to on the couch or in bed. When I’m old and gray, this I will still remember.

Color esperanza by Diego Torres, the MTV Unplugged version. I’m not too choosy about the song lyrics when I pick songs for our playlists (unless there are any words in the song I don’t want them to learn), but this song is positively uplifting. I first heard it as background music to a Special Olympics video montage and it made me cry. Plus, you’ve got to love the carnaval-style drums in the middle, and Diego busts out with some Portuguese, too.

Cha cha by Chelo. Just plain catchy.

Querida by Juan Gabriel. If there was ever a song that begs to be sung out loud with feeling, this is it.

Sopa de caracol by Banda Blanca. The best thing about this song is you can totally make up the lyrics, and then just shout, “Sopa de caracol—¡JE!” every so often. Cracks them up every time.

No tengo dinero by Kumbia Kings

Anything by Juanes, but especially La paga and A Dios le pido. I’ve made sure that the boys can recognize Juanes on his album covers.

La pollera colorá by Charlie Zaa. Just because I like it.

Mi cacharrito by Roberto Carlos. An oldie but goodie that brings back memories for me.

Pelo suelto by Gloria Trevi. It's pretty much an excuse to shake your head around like a madwoman and get your hair looking as wild as possible.

La de la mochila azul by Pedrito Fernández. Because the boys love their mochilas. And God help me, rancheras are growing on me!

So, what am I missing? Any grown-up music that your kids love? I’m always looking for more ideas.


Carolina said...

going to itunes right now to get some of're right, i think that it's good for kids to listen to your music that's what they'll remember from their childhood, that's what i remember from my childhood. recently i was putting together a list of car trip songs, as we are usually on the go, and i kept thinking oh, i don't know if this is appropriate for him, but then i thought, as long as it's clean, then yeah, it's fine for him to listen to.
thanks for sharing this list.

Monica said...

I'm the same way! Some of my favorites include songs from the 60s and 70s that my mama would play all the time. I try to do the same thing at home, and my CD player is often playing Jarabe de Palo, Gypsy Kings, Sergio Mendes and Brazil 66.
Sometimes I stop and wonder, though, is it really appropriate for my kids to be dancing around the living room to "Por un beso de la flaca?" But then I think back to some of the eyebrow raising songs (She's a brickhouse)I used to cluelessly sing as a kid, and I think - Bah!
Thanks, Keen for this good memory!

Keen said...

I worried a lot more about whether songs were appropriate in the beginning, too! "Devuélvame a mi chica" by Hombres G didn't make the cut because it contains the word "marica," which is too bad, because it's one of my favorite songs to sing out loud. Neither did "Seis tequilas" by Joaquín Sabina, because I don't want them talking about tequila out in public. Monica, I had the same thoughts about "La flaca," because I love Jarabe de Palo!

Live Simply Love Strongly said...

We love to play La vida es un carnaval(or anything by Celia Cruz for that matter, some stuff by Sonora Dinamita, Fonseca, El Presente by Julieta Venegas, Juan Luis Guerra, etc.

La mochila azul...that reminds me of the movie Voces Inocentes, have you seen that one? It's about the war in El Salvador from a child's point of view.

Also, Sol y Canto has a good bilingual CD of kids music.

spanglishbaby said...

Wow! You´re list is so much fun! You should create a playlist in iTunes and let us know so we can download it. So many good ones. I loved that you brought back to my conscious ¨Mi Cacharrito¨. that was a favorite of my mom´s.
I agree that it´s much more fun for all to listen to the music you like. I´ve caught my daughter staring at me and smiling in the car while I´m driving and singing away.
One we´ve loved to dance since she was a baby is Te mando flores by Fonseca. Love it.


Callista said...

Thanks for the suggestions! Here are some songs from a cd I have but I don't know if they're all latino/a, in fact one I think may be italian, and they aren't older

mi chico latino - halli
happy feet - bazluh
habibe - chico
baddy doub - elissa
carnaval - belinni
cuy cuy - zapata
estoy aqui - la montse
esto te pone la cabeza mala - los van van
sol arena y mar - luis miguel

Also I actually know A Dios le Pido by Juanes but I didn't know I knew it till I listened!

BTW, I'm not Latina, I just wish I was LOL.

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