Dancing in the driver’s seat

I mentioned yesterday that “Bill Bailey, Won’t You Please Come Home” by Sam Levine is likely to induce some Dixieland dancing  in the driver’s seat. We’ve all been there, right? Caught red-faced and jive-handed, and even flipping a drum stick 16 seconds in?

As an added bonus for your Monday levity, we introduce you to Crystal’s mom. You go, girl!

I love the “Busted!” look of the driver at the filming passenger just before the 1-minute mark, and the “Done now?” at the end. I don’t get that courtesy in my car. Most of the time I hear, “Dad! Stop!”

It’s only a matter of time before my kids film me in similar musical rapture. I’ve been known on a straightaway to pull both hands off the wheel and shake everything that my momma gave me in the midst of some LMFAO or Flo Rida. Hey, if I am going to be forced to listen to the kids’ playlists most of the time, I’m going to have some fun along the way.

This is much to the horrific excitement of our kids, especially if this display comes after basketball or soccer practice. Our youngest cackles maniacally while telling me to put my hands back on the steering wheel. Our oldest laughs, but I’m pretty sure there is an eye roll to go with it. Our tween? He slaps me in the gut, and is most worried that his friend’s parent driving behind us is going to think I am some kind of lunatic.

Too late, most likely.

Some free commuter music to start off your week

CMT Edge 2012 SamplerEvery so often I like to peruse the free samplers from Amazon MP3, and as I was doing so this morning I found some commuter tunes among Amazon’s recent additions.

A pleasant listening surprise was the CMT Edge 2012 Sampler — pleasant because country music is not usually a genre that I lean toward. This sampler had three commuter-themed songs — at least when it came to the titles or band names:

The commuter tie-in of the Community Music Sampler is a little more of a stretch, but I enjoyed most of the tracks, so give it a listen. The two loosely commuter-themed songs are “So I Turn” by Aaron Embry and  “Give Me A Sign” by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes.

The Green Hill Jazz Sampler has one song that is the perfect Friday drive-home song. Not matter your mood, stresses or traffic volume, it will put you in the right Friday afternoon frame of mind. Fair warning: “Bill Bailey, Won’t You Please Come Home” by Sam Levine is likely to induce some Dixieland dancing and hand jives in the driver’s seat.

One of my favorite artists of 2010, Frazey Ford, can be found on the Nettwerk Fall Music Sampler 2012 but the commuter song in that collection in both title and artist is “The Wrong Direction” by Passenger.

Finally, this list would not be complete if we did not include “Big Blue Bus” from Max & Ruby Bunny Party. Naturally, this only recommended if you have toddlers. Also check out “Telephone Song” with its subliminal message to use your headset or in-car Bluetooth controls while talking on the phone in the car — or at least that’s my inference from Max’s sirens in the background.


Let your freak flag fly but hold the F-bombs

Mason, 11, asked me recently when he could start buying “explicit” songs, because he hates it when the clean versions cut out. He has no interest currently in using the language (he gets mad at any foul-mouthed classmates, teammates, or opponents). He just wants to hear the song as intended.

I was proud of his artistic integrity, though rendered speechless for a moment by the request. “Let me talk it over with your mother,” I eventually replied. Translation? “Time out!”

On one hand, I am the former lead singer of a rock band, for whom cussing was second nature. If I could sneak a syncopated swear into an angry song, it was cursing cordon cool. On the other hand, I am a prudish parent, who over the last few years has pruned the explicit tunes from his music collection so that there are no surprises when the MP3 players are on shuffle.

This happened at a recent cookout we attended. The well-intentioned hosts put their music collection on shuffle, and for the first few songs all was well. Then Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” entered the rotation, tearing the motherf***in’ roof off the family-friendly atmosphere. A mad parental scramble ensued to skip the iPod to the next tune.

I cast no stones at the curse-word glass house. I am not immune from inducing a wide-eyed, musical surprise now and then. I was driving Mason to basketball the other night, and he wanted some pre-game Maroon 5 to pump himself up. The first song was one from my cycling playlist: “Harder To Breathe.” Just before it launched into the chorus, Adam Levine reminded us we were not fit to f***in’ tread on the ground he was walking on.

It was indeed getting harder to breathe. I glanced sideways at Mason. His eyebrows were raised, with a slight smile curling from his lips. He sent a little nod in my direction, letting me know that he knew what was up.

He truly is a tween, striving to keep up with his older brother while still clutching his youthful innocence. He is the ultimate Peter Pan, declaring frequently that he will never move away from home. Yet he wants to soar among teenage eagles at the nearby basketball court whenever he sees a pickup game brewing. By our measure, he’s still in need of some shelter, but there’s only so much that we can provide for so long.

I’m still wrestling with his explicit request. He followed it up with an one-line email a few days later: “Can I get the explicit version of Castles by B.O.B.?” I’ve continued to stall, because he already bought the clean version, so it’s not about getting that particular song (though I’m not a fan of its drug references, regardless of language). I recognize that his real aim is to shed some shackles. The decision rests on whether we think he’s ready to be responsible with music that has more adult themes and language while continuing to refrain from course behavior himself.

I don’t want to stop Mason from ever swearing. A well-executed curse word can create just the right amount of shock, and/or emphasis in the right situation. I just want to prevent his younger brother, Benjamin, 7, from starting too soon. I had thought the parenting training wheels provided by Sam, our teenager, would better prepare us for how to handle these moments of independence exertion by either Mason or Ben. But the cascading education we had expected from raising three boys that are roughly the same years apart never has materialized. Every situation remains a new one, given their three very different personalities.

I want them to be free-spirited, of course. I want them to be brash in the right circumstances. I wish everyday they would be more expressive, conversant and mature. But I also want to preserve their innocence for as long as possible. There will be plenty of time for them to face the evils — benign and malignant — of the world. It need not start on their iPod.

2011 Year in Review in Photos and Video

Welcome to the fourth annual installment of the family photo album in review. Cuteness and general entertainment value are courtesy of Sam, Mason and Ben. Music mix comes from the mind of DJ Commuter Daddy, contributions from various artists, and a couple of voice clips from Mason. Easy mixing of our photos and videos enabled by Animoto:


It was a jam-packed year, which is likely something a family of 5 could say about every year, but we really did have an active year in 2011. Highlights included a surprise 40th birthday trip to San Juan; a new role in my day job; first trip to SXSW; completion of a long overdue bachelor’s degree; coaching stints for basketball, soccer and baseball, the latter of which included an extended season with Mason’s all-star team; a couple of band concerts and parades for Sam; Ben’s first seasons of baseball, basketball and hockey, plus learning to ride a bike and losing his first two teeth in one day (not related to riding the bike); a guys’ weekend for me at Pinehurst and a girls’ weekend for Brandy in Kittery; excursions to see the Harlem Globetroters, Bourne Braves, Boston Red Sox, Providence Bruins and the Museum of Science, plus a couple of family golf outings; driveway was paved and basketball hoop was installed (twice); escaped most of the wrath of Tropical Storm Irene; and we hosted Thanksgiving dinner, while later attending Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve gatherings with friends.

Putting this slideshow together is another one of my favorite activities this time of year. It takes a while to pull it off, but I have equal amounts of geeky fun mixing the music and picking just the right amount of photos to fit the soundtrack. I hope you enjoy the results.

Previous editions:

2011 in Review: Commuter Music

As the calendar annually renews I have a couple of favorite activities, and each will lead to blog posts this week. The first is perusing what music has been collected through the year, and exchanging lists of favorites with friends. It not only affords a chance to create a playlist for myself that recaps the year (and doubles as a good party shuffle when we entertain), but also a chance to add some new music, culled from friends’ lists.

This tradition (2010’s list is here; and more commuter music musings are abundant here), was started by my friend Geoff, and I have wholeheartedly embraced it. The double bonus is the exercise provides content for this blog. Bloggers love it when an email to friends can double as a blog post. For the benefit of those friends who received the email and also read this blog (bless you!), I added some new content at the end. Stay tuned!

So, on with the show. Here are my favorite (commuter) tunes of 2011:

About three dozen songs comprise my favorites for this year. I will start with my hands-down favorite album of the year: Mine Is Yours by Cold War Kids. I loved every song. Louder Than Ever, Out of the Wilderness, and Skip the Charades were in heaviest rotation. Cold Toes on the Cold Floor is seasonally appropriate and worth a listen.

I’ll also add that I loved everything I heard by The Civil Wars, though I do keep coming back to Barton Hollow, Birds of a Feather and Oh, Henry as keepers.

The Best of the rest (in no particular order):

  • Lost in My Mind by The Head And The Heart 
  • No Silver by Chris Bathgate
  • Fixin’ to Die by G. Love
  • Crocodile Tears by little hurricane
  • Alone in This Together by Star Anna and the Laughing Dogs
  • Some Day Soon by Alexi Murdoch
  • Don’t Gotta Work It Out by Fritz & The Tantrums
  • Dance Without You by Skylar Grey
  • Arms by Christina Perri
  • City of Refuge by Abigail Washburn
  • Daphne by Lia Ices
  • The Kind You Can’t Afford by Madeleine Peyroux
  • Strawberry Amazing by Miguel
  • Sophia by Laura Marling
  • WHALE by Yellow Ostrich
  • Gray or Blue by Lee Coulter with Kate Vincent

Honorable Mention (songs from other years discovered in 2011):

  • Used to Did by J Roddy Walston and the Business
  • Revel in Contempt by Buke and Gass
  • Greenback Boogie by Ima Robot
  • Heart of Steel by Galactic
  • You Are Not Alone by Mavis Staples
  • Around the Bend by The Asteroids Galaxy Tour (thanks, Keith!)

As for the kids, Maroon 5, Pitbull and LMFAO seem to be among Ben’s and Mason’s favorites, while Sam mixes it up with Rob Thomas, The Black Eyed Peas, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Motley Crue and Lenny Kravitz.

Speaking of playlists, MapMyRide published my cycling mix earlier this year. Recent additions to that list include Moves Like Jager by Maroon 5, Dirt by WU LYF, Wonderland by Natalia Kills, Punching In A Dream by The Naked And Famous, and Die Trying by Art Of Dying.

If you have made it this far, I have wrapped up all of the above in a zipped 216MB bow. Help yourself to what you like, but please also support musicians with your wallet. Explore other offerings by these artists and let them lead you to musical discoveries. Please share your favorites in the comments, too.

Other 2011 paths to discovery:

Favorite commuter tunes of 2010

From time to time on my Twitter feed, you’ll see Commuter Tunes posted. They’re songs that I’ve marked as “Loved” via last.fm while I am listening to music at the home office. Usually they are helping me type faster, or at the very least have me bobbing my head or tapping my toes while crunching numbers.

Whatever works, right?

In addition to the songs listed there, I had many other favorites that I discovered in 2010. My friends and I annually swap lists of our favorites, giving everyone an opportunity to discover new music and in some cases find some songs on which to spend iTunes or Amazon gift cards.

I’ve published my list of 2010 Favorites on Ping. Here’s a few stragglers, too, that can only be found (still for free) on Amazon for the moment

Please join in the sharing. The only criteria is that the song was added to your library in 2010. What were your favorite songs of those you discovered last year?

    Coffee songs

    Speaking of playlists, Flavorpill’s Daily Dose e-mail highlighted a post today about the 10 best coffee songs.

    I love coffee. I love music. I love this playlist.

    I also love the comments at the end of the post, which highlight  others that deserved consideration. My two additions to the roster from my music library were “Caffeine” by Abbie Gardner (my favorite) and “Falling In Love At A Coffee Shop” by Landon Pigg.

    I just wish Flavorpill had added some iTunes or Amazon links, to make their top 10 easy to purchase, though I did appreciate that they embedded full-length players in the post. I’ll have to listen when I am back in the home office.