David Bruce: The Funniest People in Music, Volume 3 — Children

Children

• Kimya Dawson became famous after several of her songs appeared in the hit 2007 movie Juno. After the movie made her famous, she started creating an album titled Alphabutt for children. Her humor, as shown when she was a member of the anti-folk duo The Moldy Peaches with Adam Green, can be crude and can involve bad language. She thinks that all of her albums are “child-appropriate, but not all parents agree — a lot of kids who like my stuff say, ‘I wanted to take your CD to show and tell, but my teacher doesn’t like it when you say ‘f**king c*ck.’” For that reason, she felt obliged to make what she calls “a show-and-tell-friendly album.” In 2008, her daughter was two years old, and Ms. Dawson was thinking of starting a curfew-friendly tour: “I’ve been thinking about doing a tour called ‘The Nine O’ Clock Curfew Tour,’ where I don’t play any shows that end after nine. This staying up ’til 11 stuff is bullsh*t.”

• Laurie Anderson was forced to study violin when she was a child — it was not a pleasant experience. She says, “I had a teacher who said, ‘If you don’t put your fingers in the right place, I am going to put nails where they [your fingers] shouldn’t be and you’ll prick yourself.’” Ms. Anderson, of course, composed and recorded “O Superman,” figuring that 100 copies of the song would be enough to meet what she thought would be a limited demand. However, British deejay John Peel played it on his radio show, and suddenly demand skyrocketed. She says, “One day, I got a call from London with an order for 20,000 copies of the single, immediately followed by another 20,000 by the end of the week. I looked at the cardboard box of records, which had almost run out, and said, ‘Listen, can I just call you back?’”

• Long ago, singer/songwriter Billy Bragg made a music video for a song called “The Boy Done Good” with some of his nieces and nephews. During a visit, a niece mentioned the video, and Billy’s son, who was a toddler when the video was made, wanted to see it. So Billy spent a week looking everywhere in his home for the video, including getting out a ladder so he could look in the attic. Finally, he gave up and telephoned his niece to ask, “Where did you see the video? ’Cause I can’t find it anywhere. Have you got a copy?” She replied, “Duh, Uncle Bill, it’s on YouTube.” Perhaps unnecessarily, Billy says, “I felt such an idiot, such an old guy.”

• For one of his televised Young People’s Concerts, conductor Leonard Bernstein presented Benjamin Britton’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra. He needed a child to narrate, and he settled on the young son of his friend Schuyler Chapin: Henry. Henry did a fine job, and he grew up and taught music to young children at a school in New York. Once, he showed his pupils the Young People’s Concert that he had narrated. The children liked the program, but one girl asked, “Who was that nerdy kid who spoke the words?” Henry confessed that he had been the nerdy kid, and the children applauded him.

• When Beyoncé and fellow Destiny’s Child member Kelly Rowland first heard a song of theirs — “No, No, No” — on the radio in her car, they stopped the car, jumped out of it, and started singing the song and running around the car. When Beyoncé’s younger sister, Solange, saw them, she was shocked at first. But when she was close enough to hear the song, she joined them in running around the car. Beyoncé remembers, “She dropped her bag and books and started running around the car, too. It was a really cool experience.”

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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