Rock Music for Kids: A Clue … Start with the 1970s (and John Denver).

My oldest is currently obsessed with Britney Spears. Britney walks (and spins) on water for my 7 year old, and while I’m unabashedly in love with bubble gum pop music, my 7 year old now thinks skinny schoolgirl outfits and red leather from head to toe is the very definition of what performance, song and dance should encompass.

I don’t agree with that.

With all due respect Britney, the pop music is simple and basic. There’s a reason I doubt “Hit Me Baby One More Time” will ever make it into the “Recommended Music for Kids” canon. In the car the other day, I insisted on avoiding Ms. Spears and scoured YouTube for more kid-friendly music, which included “Supercalifragilistic …” and “Do-Re-Mi” and suddenly my two children were thrilled to sing these songs which are relatable to their hearts and minds. But I was bored enough all the same. So I decided to do some social engineering. After all, there is more to the canon of American music than the GoNoodle songs, Julie Andrew (British, but it counts), pop and classic ’90s.

I decided it was time to introduce my kids to the 1970s.

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So I made a playlist. Let’s call it “The Best Music To Make Your Kids Moderately Interesting Mixtape 1 For Humans,” a compilation of samples pulled from above by rock guides that I hoped would give my kids a head start. less cool children. Also, the joy. I’m not going to pretend my playlist is perfect (add or edit), but it works. These songs appeal to young children – I have researched them. I progress. I was not hit once more.

So let’s go together….

1. Take me home, country road, John Denver

Because you’re never too old to feel that nostalgia that makes your head turn to tears. (By the way, this is one of our favorite picture books in our family.)

2. american pie, Don McLean

Because duh.

3. ABC, Jackson 5

Because you’re never too old for an alphabetical magazine. (Yes, I’m aware of the MJ music problem, but I’m leaving it here.)

4. Three little birds, Bob Marley

Because our job is to reassure our children

5. Rock Crocodile, Elton John

Because the happiness of its melody gives us all the sensations. (Pardon the link to the film Rocket man instead of the real Elton John – love the creation of this scene demonstrating the uplifting power of music.)

6. Think, Aretha Franklin

Because there is no better than Aretha (even refurbished in the Blue Brothers scene.)

seven. Go west, Pet Shop Boys

Because fun is necessary in all of our lives. (Just like the camp.)

8. Stay alive, The Bee Gees

Because each child must know how to strut about this sick rhythm. (Although Travolta does it better than the actual BeeGees in this video.)

9. Brown eyed girl, Van Morrison

Because life is better with a good look and a big smile.

ten. we will Rock You, Queen

Kids will love the rhythm, the drums, the simple words.

11. To imagine, John Lennon

Because it is a must for a life of love and hope.

12. Satisfaction, The rolling stones

Because what do children understand more deeply than not having enough?

13. Copacabana, Barry Manilow

Because storytelling is an art, and songs with a guideline (even murder) are more interesting. (Plus, you’re welcome to watch this older video in particular.)

14. California Hotel, Eagles

Because sadness is an emotion we all need to embrace for our healthy emotional lives and the minor touches in this song take the listener on a whole journey.

15. Sedated, The Ramones

Because you will feel cooler than other parents when your kids know these very simple sayings.

16. Lean on me, Bill Withers

Because music teaches your kids to be compassionate instead of being assholes.

17. I feel the earth moving, Carole King

Because she is the queen who made the queens.

18. An unnamed horse, America

Because the randomness of these words delights young and old.

19. September, Earth, Air and Fire

Because it’s funk season all year round.

20. There is no mountain, any version – Marvin’s or Diana’s.

Because imagery enhances understanding and each version is of service to your children here.

Gavin Lodge lives in New York with his partner and their two children. He is an entrepreneur, having founded ECKnox (baby outfit for stylish dads), actor (five Broadway shows and count) and writer (chasing lots of golden rings); and he blogs on

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