Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Someone Else's Bubblegum
I haven’t seen Amy Hersh in far too long. More than a dozen years ago we worked together at Back Stage and have stayed in touch sporadically, more often through Diane Snyder and Michele LaRue, fellow Back Stage alums. So was I ever surprised to learn Amy had written and recorded a CD of children’s songs, “Someone Else’s Bubblegum.” And it’s terrific!
Actually I shouldn’t be surprised. Amy was a hoot when she sang the songs she had concocted by making up her own words to popular tunes. My favorite was one she devised to the theme from “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” about a very difficult woman we know who shall remain nameless. (Don’t worry, Amy. I won’t quote you on this one.)
Amy’s songs work well because she’s clever with rhyming. And she remembers so much about childhood. The first song, “Someone Else’s Bubblegum is Sticking to my Shoes,” reminded me how much I used to resent that and take it personally. Amy sings, to the tune of “John Brown’s Baby,” about walking quickly into town and hearing a “mushy” sound. “My sneakers wouldn’t move an inch,/ had gum stuck to the treads./ I was madder by the minute/ and I wished I’d stayed in bed./ I was standing like a statue,/ birds were landing on my head,/ and I can’t lift my feet up off the ground.”
I didn’t need to be reminded of the misery of one of her other selection -- what follows Labor Day. Amy turns blues singer and chronicler of this sad time in “I’ve Got the Back to Elementary School Blues,” with all its worries about being smart enough and fitting in. A wise older cousin points out some good things, though, like the cafeteria’s great mac and cheese, and says that even teachers get nervous before school starts.
Another fun song is “I Want to Linger with the Langurs,” which reflects Amy’s familiarity with the animal world, gleaned from her years now of working at the Bronx Zoo, and offers an armadillo who lives outside Amarillo. In “Bug Bites,” “hungry, stupid bugs,/ miserable, nasty, rotten thugs” ruin a perfect day by eating through socks while “I was minding my own business, I didn’t understand how./ Why me? Why bugs? Why now?” Songs also deal with important matters like lost boots and completed homework.
Because Amy isn’t a professional singer, the songs have a natural sound that children will connect with. Accompanying herself on guitar, it’s as if she were sitting on the floor with them having a good time.
Parents will like this album too. It's one children’s recording they won’t want to hide while going on a road trip. In fact, they’ll probably be the ones to put it in the CD player and sing along.
If you’ve got a child on your holiday shopping list, this is one present that is sure to be a hit. Your child will love it, and so will her or his friends, who will all want a copy. The subtitle proclaims it to be “Songs for Kids of All Ages,” which is true, but mostly for those from 4 to 11.
To order, go to http://cdbaby.com/cd/amybsounds. For more information, write to AmysTunes4Kids@gmail.com.