Revisiting Raffi

I like to say that my first concert was in grade school when my dad and I went to see KISS, but the truth is that my real first concert was actually Raffi. If you’re unfamiliar with him, Raffi was a performer, writer and singer of children’s songs who was wildly popular in the early 80s. For Easter, my parents sent us a box filled mostly with candy, but also a present for Lucy. It turned out to be a DVD called A Young Children’s Concert With Raffi and was recorded in 1984.

My wife and I watched the disc with Lucy and she seemed to really dig it. I was surprised with how many of the songs I remembered like “The More We Get Together,” “Down By The Bay” and “Baby Beluga.” I might not be able to remember words off of the last dozen or so records I’ve purchased, but I can remember a good deal of “Shake My Sillies Out.” The same was true for my wife.

The other thing I found really interesting is how normal Raffi is. He’s just a dude in a Hawaiian shirt on stage singing and playing an acoustic guitar for a bunch of kids. (By the way, yes, anyone who’s about 30 now looked exactly like the kids in this audience when we were younger.) Anyway, my point is that, today it seems like everything aimed at kids is crazy, cartoony and over the top. I’m nowhere near an expert in that field because I still get to watch Mike & Mike in the morning instead of the Disney Channel, but it seems like from the Wiggles to the Imagination Movers, musical acts aimed at children all have to be color-coordinated goofballs who don’t seem the least bit human thanks to their over-embellishment.

I’m sure it’s not damaging, but it does seem odd that we can’t treat children like they’re intelligent, normal people. Raffi didn’t talk to the kids like they couldn’t possibly understand things, in fact he had fun with them and not in a way that comes off as fake to adults. Maybe my perspective is too skewed on this one, maybe I’m too old and I’m judging things that aren’t aimed at me, which is truly pointless (“I’m a grown man who dislikes the bright colors in children’s shows!”), but its’ just something that came to mind recently.

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