They say music soothes the savage beast.
I’d recently started transporting a 2-year-old and a 3-year-old back and forth to day care the roughly half-hour each way. They’d become more and more agitated each day, a little bored by our scenic trip past farmland each way.
I didn’t know where else to turn, so I turned the radio over to “toddler radio” on a streaming music service.
I bit my tongue a bit as they quieted to the sounds of Sesame Street characters, a kids’ singalong choir and other initially nauseating sounds.
I hadn’t had to listen to this stuff in five or six years, since our older girls had all outgrown it. Now they want to listen to whatever’s popular at the moment, if you even want to call some of that music.
Then I started to realize the toddler music wasn’t really so bad after all. The lyrics were a little bit uplifting. It wasn’t focused on sex, drugs and violence, as the popular music of today does. The lyrics actually pushed you to try to be a better person, striving to do more while accepting your limitations.
Take The Laurie Berkner Band’s “I'm Not Perfect,” for example: “We’re not perfect, but we’ve got what we’ve got. We do our very best, we do our very best, we do our very best each day. But we’re not perfect, and we hope you like us that way.”
I wish I could play that for readers upset about mistakes in the newspaper.
And I started to realize the music doesn’t have to just be by people who could sound like Mickey Mouse singing. I started hearing classics, like Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” and Harry Belafonte’s “Jump In the Line.” They’re fun, emotional songs that make you feel a certain way, and I might not have heard either of them since I was a child, aside from sneaking parts of them into music soundtracks.
And who says it can’t rock too? There were songs such as The White Stripes’ “We're Going to Be Friends” that fit the genre yet introduce children to different kinds of music too. Same goes for one of my guilty pleasures from the 1980s, Bobby McFerrin’s “Don't Worry Be Happy.”
We’ll all sing along with some of the songs. I don’t care what kind of day you’re having, it’s hard not to smile after you’ve sung along with 2- and 3-year-old girls. They’re joyful, and there’s no reason not to be.
Most of the time, I don’t even turn it off when I drive the final few minutes from the day care to the newspaper’s office. And throughout the day, I keep finding myself humming (or if no one’s around, singing) along to the music in my head.
Indeed, it’s true, the right music can soothe the savage beast, even if it’s the gray-haired guy in the driver’s seat.