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August 30, 2012

New Music: Little Seed

As many public radio stations mentioned at the time, this past July 14 marked the hundredth anniversary of Woody Guthrie's birth. Among all his other great musical achievements, Guthrie recorded an album of songs for kids way back in 1947 (it's still—or, I should say, again—in print, actually!).

Modern-day kids' musician Elizabeth Mitchell, whose last album, Sunny Day, was one of our family's favorites of 2010, marked that anniversary by putting out her own collection of Guthrie's kids' songs—many from that very album, though others (like the not-actually-written-for-kids "This Land Is Your Land") are also here. On Little Seed, Mitchell as usual gives each song her uniquely sweet gentle touch (these versions have far fewer rough edges than Guthrie's originals), and is joined by family members and other musical friends on many tracks.

This is a quiet, thoughtful interpretation of what are often the simplest of songs, with titles like "Why, Oh Why" and "Grassy Grass Grass" (not actually as Ron Burgundian as it seems)—Guthrie's songwriting tended to be simple, if always powerfully so. As such, it makes for a particularly great album to listen to with infants and the youngest of toddlers, though older kids will certainly enjoy it as well. (Even if Mitchell chose, in the end, not to cover "Goodnight Little Arlo"!)

[Cover images courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways]

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