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Daddy Dearest: John Schaefer's Weird Kiddie Playlist

Monday, April 15, 2013 - 11:52 AM

Soundcheck host John Schaefer says playing Peter Gabriel's 'Solsbury Hill' is one of the only reasons his daughters know what a turntable is. Soundcheck host John Schaefer says playing Peter Gabriel's "Solsbury Hill" is one of the only reasons his daughters know what a turntable is.

Don’t try this at home. I did, and both of my delightful young daughters turned into unspeakably horrible monsters. I think the technical term is “teenage girls.” But since we are talking on the show today about the music that parents pick for their kids, I figured I’d offer a playlist of the songs I shared with my kids when they were too young to know any better. 

Peter Gabriel, "Solsbury Hill" 

A great song from Gabriel’s first solo album, which I still have on vinyl.  It is probably the only reason either of my girls knows what an LP or a turntable looks like. 

Neil Young, "My My Hey Hey (Out Of The Blue)" 

The acoustic rendition of Young's “Hey Hey My My (Into The Black),” this song is perhaps not the best message to drum into a young kid. When she was older my first daughter got a tattoo of the line “it’s better to burn out than to fade away.”

The Stranglers, "Golden Brown" 

A lovely waltzing tune with a recurring bar of 4/4 time to keep you guessing. Played (badly) on acoustic guitar, I thought it made a very fine lullaby. A favorite of daughter No. 2. A few years ago I found out that “golden brown” referred to a particularly fine grade of heroin. But that’s the great thing about music: What it means to the writer isn’t necessarily the only thing it can mean. 

Blind Gary Davis, "The Light Of This World" 

The great bluesman’s songs are full of religious imagery that is so weird and ecstatic that it’s almost psychedelic. I was proud of figuring out this semi-complex fingerpicking song from the playing of Jorma Kaukonen, though when I mentioned the song to him later he said “Oh that. That’s such a simple tune.” 

Barnes & Barnes, "Fish Heads" 

Hey, it is a kids’ playlist after all. A family favorite to sing along to, I learned it from Dr. Demento’s weekly radio show back when I was little more than a kid myself.   



This playlist has changed frequently over the years, but a some of perennials would also include:

The Pixies, "Monkey Gone To Heaven"

Daughter No. 1, then age 10: “If Man is 5 and the Devil is 6 and God is 7, then it’s really God’s fault for not helping the monkey.”  Brilliant.

The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band(The whole LP)

Brian Eno, "Everything Merges With The Night" 

Another great lullaby.

David Sylvian, "Orpheus"

Pink Floyd, "Wish You Were Here"


What music did your parents play for you when you were a kid? Tell us in the comments section below, or on Twitter at @Soundcheck.


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Comments [3]


My parents would play vinyl and light incense in a Buddha incense burner in the living room when I was really young. They have photos of me about age three twirling like a gypsy-in-training in pigtails and a Mexican folk dress from one of those nights.

One of my favorite albums from my parents' playlist of the time was Little Feat's "Sailin' Shoes." I loved to look at the LP art, which featured a sexy piece of cake kicking up its legs on a swing. The title track was the one that stuck in my mind over all these years, but I didn't actually have a proper re-listen until about a month ago (via YouTube), when I discovered that the song was blatantly about getting high on coke. I asked my dad recently if he wasn't concerned that three-year-old me would ask him, "daddy, what's a cocaine tree?"....he deflected the question.

I turned out fact those nights maybe made such an impression on me that I became an artist and musician and still love gypsy dresses, incense and vintage LP covers.

Apr. 18 2013 09:50 PM
Daughter No. 1

you forgot sixteen tons, games without frontiers, and lola. all of which are also inappropriate. i shall email you as well. daughter no. 1, out.

Apr. 15 2013 04:51 PM
Adam from NJ

Funny about Neil Young. I remember playing Tonight's the Night in the car when I had my then three year old in the back (he is now 10). After a bit of listening to this post/anti-drug song he said to me, "Daddy, why is tonight the night?"

Apr. 15 2013 03:56 PM

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