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MADE FOR YOU THIS LITTLE SONG
This is a silly song about the act of writing a song. I wrote two completely different versions of this song. One of them was longer than one minute so I decided to pick the one that ended exactly in one minute. It was really fun to come up with all the little moments and sound effects in this one. It's jam-packed for such a tiny tune!
Long ago when my son was small and he was a very messy eater we would always have a little cloth on hand to clean them up. We called that cloth a burp cloth. We were always looking for the burp cloth and I made up a song about looking for that little cloth. In the end I felt the song BURP CLOTH was a little bit yucky. I decided to make it about a worm that reads a book everyday and doesn't want to come out to play. The lyrics just fell out of my brain and the song was born.
This song started its long life way back in 1985. I went to Missouri to a family reunion when I was 20 years old and my father's brother made a speech during the gathering that was very moving. He was a tough farmer and seeing him get emotional impressed me. I wrote a song called EMOTIONAL COWBOY about that feeling and it was released many years ago. As I looked through my old songs I realize that I wanted this idea of being emotional despite being seen as strong to reach a wider audience so I reverted to be about a robot that has a heart. I think this will be the one and only time that I ever sing about robots on a Casper Babypants album.
BE IN THE SEA
I was thinking about the similarities between the ocean and the desert. Then I was thinking about all the animals that live in the desert and what would happen to them if they lived in the ocean. Then I thought about all the animals that live in the ocean and what would happen to them if they lived outside of the ocean. So I just wrote a song about creatures from the ocean living in the desert and in the sky and in outer space and wishing that they could be back in the ocean. Maybe this song is about being nostalgic for home? I just love imagining an octopus in weightlessness!
YOU ARE THE BABY
This is another song from what I call the "blanket sessions". When my kids were very little I would lay them on a blanket and sit there with a guitar and play improvisations about how much I love them and how cute they were. A bunch of songs came out of this and two of them are on this record. This one was for my daughter and is just a simple groovy love song reminding a baby that a baby is a baby is a baby. A definite nod to the Beatles influence on this one.
Originally titled EVERYTIME I SEE YOUR FACE this one was about a super cute baby face. Albums came and went and I just felt that there was something not quite right about it. Finally I decided to try stripping the words away and painting a different picture. That's when DISCO HIPPO just came spilling out of my mind and onto the page. I love the idea of a hippo gliding around and getting down on the dance floor. I am enjoying making songs about dancing. There are three on this record so try to find them all!
A DANCING TREE
You found another dancing song! I thought it would be fun to do a song at live shows where I ask the kids to pretend to be a tree. They can shake their branches and leaves and kick up their roots and move about. I like to pretend that trees secretly have the ability to pull up their routes and run around. I have a whole other song I'm working on based on the legend of trees that can move. In the meantime here's a tree song you can move to.
One day I was wrapping up some CDs to send to a store that sells my CDs and I was staring at the bubble wrap in my hand and realized that if you took the "w" out of "wrap" you would end up with "rap". I started thinking about hip-hop and how the person rapping is usually talking about how strong and amazing they are. Bubbles are weak and vulnerable and I thought it would be fun to write a rap song from the point of view of something that is not strong. Musically I'm kind of trying to send everybody back to the early 80s in New York when rap was born. I'm pretty proud of some of the rhymes and the song! It poured out of me in one sitting and the vocal you are hearing on the track is a temporary vocal that I put down right when I wrote it but I was never able to beat so I left it in there.
MY LULLABY GOT TOO LOUD
Over 30 years ago I wrote a song called POLITICAL SONG about how it is hard to write a political song because the words you need to use are too long. Words like "antidisestablishmentarianism". That recording was never released at all but eventually it mutated into this idea of trying to write a lullaby but getting too excited and making it so loud but that it's not about going to bed at all anymore. Originally this song had a lot of guitars on it but slowly over time I took them away and replace them with more of a marching band oompah symphonic sensation. Stay up all night kids! (not really...go to bed)
ALWAYS KEEP A UKULELE IN YOUR TRUNK
I was watching a documentary about George Harrison and in that doc Tom Petty told a story about George coming to his house to give him a ukulele. George and Tom strolled through the garden playing ukuleles having a grand old time. When George went to leave he asked Tom if he wanted more ukuleles. Tom said he was okay with one ukulele but George insisted and opened the trunk of his car to reveal a HUGE pile of ukuleles. The moment Tom Petty finished telling the story I realize I had to write a song about this incredible moment. I think it's good advice to always keep a ukulele within arms reach! You never know when you need to elevate your mood with the sparkly sound of a uke.
WATCH PETUNIA DANCE
I originally wrote this song for a little girl named Daisy who was a fan of mine who was battling cancer. I wanted to help her to envision herself leaving her bed and dancing around much like a flower would leave its flowerbed to dance around. In the end I changed the name but the idea of a dancing flower that leaves it's flower bed and can move freely and dance as much as it wants to is the main idea of this tune.
ANYTHING FOR YOU MY LOVE
Here is another song that was written as I stared down at my little boy when he was only a few months old lying on a blanket in the living room as I played guitar and made up songs on the spot. This is just a pure improvisational expression of love from a parent to a little new baby. It's fun to remember when they needed so much help especially once they've grown and gone to college like my little boy has.
Originally this song was about a rubber ball that was impossible to throw away because it would keep coming back. It was a bit too spooky and creepy so I made it about a rubber ball that I love instead of one that I'm trying to get rid of. All of a sudden the whole thing clicked. There's a great ghost movie that I love called "The Changeling" that features a scene in which a man throws a rubber ball off the Aurora bridge in Seattle in an effort to get rid of it because it reminded him of his daughter who had passed away. When he gets home the rubber ball is bouncing down the stairs of the house supposedly set in motion by the ghost of another child living in the home. I love that movie and wanted to immortalize that rubber ball in a fun positive way so that is what this song is about. There are no ghosts in this song so don't be scared!
Many years ago I wrote a song for the Seattle Symphony to commemorate the 10 year anniversary of their youth outreach program called Soundbridge. The song was called SOUNDBRIDGE IS TEN YEARS OLD and featured a collaboration between me and two little kids and a little known composer named Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. One of the little kids came up with the melody for the chorus and the other came up with the idea of doing a roll call of the instruments of the symphony. Then I called up Mozart and got him to do the middle part of the song, which features his amazing composition Eine kleine Nachtmusik. Thanks for the help Mozart!
WHEN A PENGUIN MOVES TO CALIFORNIA
I watched a movie called "Orange Sunshine" about the psychedelic counterculture in Southern California in the 1960s. The movie was so well done and so evocative with saturated sunshine orange and yellow super eight film that I immediately picked up a guitar and started writing when the movie was over. Originally it was about a baby moving to California but somehow I thought of penguin moving there was a little more bizarre and fun. I like the way the penguin has romantic experiences and practical experiences. It's a big deal to move to a new place.
ON TOP OF A MOUNTAIN
This one was originally going to be on SLEEP TIGHT but I decided to hold it back for the next record because it was a little too bouncy for that one. This is just a simple mellow song based on the old classic ON TOP OF OLD SMOKEY. I love the groove in this one and I love any excuse to play slide guitar.
I THOUGHT I SAW BATS
Way back in 1990 I wrote a song called ARKANSAS ANGST. It was bizarre and abstract and kind of sad and depressing. I loved the melody and the guitar part but never felt like it was a song I can bring to a band or play live. I decided to crack it open and turn it into a Caspar song about five years ago and it's taken that long to figure out an angle and get the story right. This is based on an experience I had when I was a little kid where a giant crowd of bats smacked into my window and woke me up. It was super scary and I never forgot it.
DROPPED MY LOLLYPOP
I had an instrumental for many years called DROPPED LOLLYPOP And I loved it. Eventually I decided to put words to it and make it about a lollipop that I remembered getting at Disneyland when I was a little kid. I didn't drop the one I got but in an effort to add a little narrative tension I decided to tell the story of a lollipop that fell in the sand at the beach. I can't think of anything sadder for a little kid. But don't worry it all works out in the end. I had a lot of fun layering my voice 12 times to make the crowd of people shouting "NOOOO!".
HEAD SHOULDERS KNEES AND TOES
This is my version of the classic song that parents love to sing two their tiny babies. I thought it would be fun to add a whole bunch more body parts than just the head the shoulders and the knees and the toes. I hope you have fun trying to keep up with me and pointing to all the parts of your baby while you listen to this song.
ME AND YOU
I recorded two completely different versions of the song before I could settle on which one would get released. One was high energy and kind of like a hillbilly song and the other was this one that you are listening to. In the end I thought the sensitive presentation served the intimacy of the song better and having it be a knee slapper. A nice mellow album closer about the love between a baby and a parent.
The guitar line in this song was the first seed planted. The tune remained an instrumental for a long time and I was afraid that it would stay that way since typically if lyrics don't come soon new ideas will stay instrumental forever. I tracked it hoping that words would come and none did but one day as I played it on the porch the words just trickled out and the vision became clear. Sometimes you just have to be patient and wait.
GO SLOW SLUGGY
At one point I was working with Jack from Recess Monkey on a travel bingo game for the car that would have audio mini song cues for indicators as to what square to fill on the game board. He and I wrote dozens of mini songs that were about 30 seconds each. One of mine was called SLOW LORIS and even though the project never came to completion I always loved that tune when it popped up as I sifted through old ideas for new songs. I changed it to a slug because it feels more vivid to me than my own fuzzy and indistinct notion of what a Loris looks like and spends it's day doing.
JUST A KITE
I have had this song waiting in the wings for many years. I lost track of how many years but it has been a while. I identified with Charlie Brown when I was a kid. It seemed that his hard luck mirrored my own enough that having the same initials did not surprise me once I realized that was the case. I couldn't fly a kite either and that was the inspiration for this song. I decided to write it from the perspective of the kites that I failed to fly when I was a kid.
In 2000 I made an album of kids songs to benefit PEPS (Program for Early Parent Support), which included a version of the classic Irish song TURA LURA LURA. That album did not get distributed outside of the PEPS families that I made it for so I have been slowly remaking some of those songs and putting them out on Caspar Babypants albums. I decided to expand the lyrics and rewrite them to be about the sensation of being cozy in your home while the storms and scary natural phenomena rage outside.
Way back in 1998 I put out a record under the name The Giraffes. This song was on that record and it was a great version but when I went to update it for a Caspar Babypants record I got excited to update the lyrics. Way back when I wrote it I just had this kaleidoscopic sort of cut away vision of the woods at night and the cast of oddball characters that were crawling around in the pale moonlight. I could sing about the moon all night long! Another example of a simple translation of a surreal vision in my mind to a melodic lyrical miniature song world.
ANOTHER HEAD HITS THE PILLOW
I started out singing this as a funny mantra to myself as I painted the porch of my cabin in the woods. The lyrics were a bit different and the feel with upbeat and high energy. I fully recorded the song that way under the title LOG JAM but somehow it felt unfinished or something. A few years later I remembered that tune and changed the vibe to be slinky and dark. It feels like we are flying around fast all over the world seeing a psychedelic montage of creatures succumbing to sleep one by one. I love this one because it makes the hairs on my neck prickle.
IT'S BEEN A LONG DAY
Back in college I wrote a funny repetitive song called SUZANNE that only had four lines but I always loved the feel and the melody so when I came upon it as my computer played random songs one day I felt compelled to find a way to make it new and fresh. Set in and around the sea I am just asking some sea creatures if they will allow me to tuck them in (as you do!). It was fun to use that synthesizer sound in a Caspar song which is not usually in my palette of noises and instruments.
ALL OF YOUR LIFE
I wrote this song for my second album MORE PLEASE! which came out in 2010 but it just didn't fit on that album or any other album until now. One reason is that recorded and rewrote it three times trying to balance the sentiment with the right musical feel and that took about 7 years. Finally I got it right (I HOPE!) and this sweet little tune made it on to this album. Basically it is saying that no matter what kind of human you grow up to be you should take your time and enjoy letting your journey unfold moment by moment.
This was an old demo from the 90's that had unintelligible lyrics but a good relaxing vibration to it. Last winter I made a project out of listening to thousands of fragments in order to find ideas that resonated with me enough to rescue them from the trash pile and make them into something finished. This is one of them. Let's face it, flowers are pretty lazy. Those bees do all the work!
RAIN AND THUNDER
When I was super little I started taking piano lessons. I loved to play but preferred to figure out the theme song to "The Munsters" by ear than learn compositions by the masters. The title came from an old childhood memory. My friends Dave and Steve that lived down the street did not have a piano but would hang out at our house a bunch and heard me playing. In an effort to write something on the piano together we came up with a song called RAIN AND THUNDER, which was just tinkling the highest and lowest keys on the piano. The low notes being the thunder and the high notes being the rain. It was a little musical joke that I never forgot and eventually I took the title and mutated it into the song on this album. It only took 45 years to fully realize this one!
EARLY MORNING EARLY EVENING
I was trying to capture the hypnotic pulse of days coming and going in this tune. I like the idea that the pulse of a heartbeat and the pulse of a day and the pulse of a lifetime are all the same but some are too slow to perceive.
SLEEP MISTER SANDMAN
I was thinking about the legend of the sandman sprinkling dust in sleepers' eyes and wondering if the sandman ever has trouble getting to sleep or if the rotation of the earth means that he is constantly needed to sprinkle dust in sleepers' eyes and never gets to sleep? Poor guy. This song is dedicated to the late great Mark Sandman as well. He taught me how to play the 2 string and 3 string guitar and he is gone from us but his songs sing on and in that way he never sleeps.
DOES THE MOON HANG LOW?
I tried to rewrite the classic DO YOUR EARS HANG LOW? and make it a high energy rocker but somehow it did not sound right. It turned out that it worked better with new lyrics as a lullaby. Even slowed down the lyrics are kind of dense but I think it works. I love the wah wah guitar in there all distant and watery. My second moon song on this album. I do so love to sing about that moon.
LULLABY IN THE SKY
WOW. This one was a long strange journey that I can't believe is over. It started out as a song called XYLOPHONES IN THE SKY way back in 1993. I had a bunch of friends that all liked to play funny little broken down oddball instruments and we used to go to the beach or a park for the afternoon and play these hypnotic jams until the sun disappeared. I wrote XYLOPHONES IN THE SKY to capture my feeling of vast trancelike joy that I got from those jam sessions. But the song never worked as a recording. No matter how many versions I tried it failed somehow. I tried it quiet and loud and everything in between. Finally I stripped the chorus and rewrote it to be clearer as far as the vibe I was trying to capture. Recording it still proved super hard but I finally struck the right balance and after 25 years and remixing this version 34 times I can finally let this song go!
TEN LITTLE PIGGIES
This snappy little tune started out life as a love song for my newborn son about twenty years ago. I had him on a little blanket in he living room and as I stared at that glorious little kid I sang "sunshine pig making his way through the universe!". The song actually ended up in an ad for the BMW Mini back in the day. Eventually after picking it apart for years to make something else out of it I landed on the rich tradition of those beloved ten little pigs and the new Caspar version was born.
WHERE OH WHERE?
I decided that I wanted to rewrite this classic to include more than just a dog. So I wrote new lyrics about loosing an entire menagerie of animals and all the speculating that goes along with lost pets.
LOVE YOU MORE
This was a straightforward love song for my daughter when she was tiny. I use to wake up with her every morning and walk all over the place with her strapped to me and this was a song that I sang while we walked. I forgot about it and just stumbled onto it while listening to old fragments one day. It was super fun to record and I hope you have fun listening to it.
Wow wow wow. For years and years and years I have been noticing abandoned couches by the side of the road and every time I did I would have a little music moment go off in my head that sang "FREE COUCH" instead of "FREAK OUT" but with no idea how to form that little habit into a song I sat on the fragment for years. Then I cracked it open and worked it out so that a young tick that moved to the city is calling his parents and telling them not to freak out because he is safe and sound and living ins a FREE COUCH! Yay. Puzzle solved and the song came out super duper. Put on your dancing shoes and turn it UP.
THIS IS THE WAY THE WOODS WAKE UP
Originally I had this song happening in a zoo but then I realized that zoos could be a bit controversial so I moved it to the woods. I hope this song will help you in the morning with your routine, as you get ready to head out the door. I like to imagine this one being performed in a nightclub in 1960's New York by a dashing flamingo.
PUSHY THE TUG
This is another song where the idea existed for years before I figured out how to make it work as a song. Every time Kate and I would see a tug boat out on the water we would pretend it was named "Pushy" and it had a bit of an attitude of superiority. When it came time to make the song I figured I had to do more than just describe her so I made up a story about another tug named "Huggy" coming along and falling in love with her even though she can be pretty prickly. It's a tugboat love story.
I FEEL BETTER
One day I went into a music store with a wee tape recorder to sample little drum sounds and noises to use for song inspiration (the drum track on FREE COUCH is from one such excursion!) and I ended up improvising a little tune on a keyboard about feeling better. Many many years later after listening to the tape a few times this little jam stuck out as something to build on but it took many many more years before I stumbled on to the right way to sing about this idea of time healing all wounds. Some things are worth the wait.
CUT THAT COCONUT DOWN
One day this song just sprang out of my mind fully formed. I don't know where it cane from but I love it. Just a bunch of thirsty animals that need to get their paws and claws on some thirst quenching coconut juice. None of them can get it together to get the coconuts out of that silly tree. I get thirsty just listening to this one.
MY PANTS ARE ON VACATION
One day my wife Kate was getting ready to go out and could not find the pair of pants that she wanted to wear. Out of frustration she shouted "MY PANTS ARE ON VACATION!". Of course, as is often the case with things Kate says, I immediately heard a song in her silly proclamation and rushed out to the studio to write and record it on the spot.
This ditty started out as a song I wrote for someone as an auction item for a fundraiser. I can't remember what the original lyrics were but I changed it many years ago (another song I have had for a long time!) to be about the secret life of all the underground creatures. I love dirt. My favorite part is the concert hall made of "rocks and roots". I can really see it.
When my son was a wee lad he wrote the weirdest song called "CHIPMUNK FALLING FROM THE SKY". It had a really odd time signature and the "oo wee oo oo oo oo wee" part that I found myself humming to myself for years afterwards. Finally I changed his original lyrics about a chipmunk hitting the ground at terrible velocities to be about a crow that tries to steal a delicious piece of pie and a classic was born!
NO MORE JUMPING
My daughter and I were driving home from town one day when the song "Ghost Town" by The Specials and as I sang along my mind wandered to the old traditional song about jumping on the bed. I decided to expand it (as I do!) and include a bunch of animals instead of just the traditional monkeys in the original. I used a tone for the music from The Specials song as a tribute tot he moment of inspiration.
FROGGIE WENT A COURTIN'
Another old traditional song that I suddenly realized I had not thought about adapting. I changed the lyrics a bit and took the weapons out of Froggies hands in the first verse (!) and replaced them with a ring and a bouquet, which is more appropriate for a proposal! I had fun messing with these lyrics for sure. What a fun party. I wish I had been invited to that wedding.
PUT YOUR BABY IN THE AIR
I slowed this one down so you can really do the movement with your baby and have time to enjoy it and be in the moment. Of course I included some fresh movements so you can shake things up with your kid. It's just a simple moment to have interacting with your baby.
Who likes to go to bed? NOBODY! Well, nobody under 6 years old I guess. I wanted to write a sort of classic blues structured song and chose the bedtime these because a lot of kids feel pretty strong emotions around that age old never ending chore of winding down for sleep. I hope that maybe this song helps parents with the bedtime routine.
WHAT DO YOU FIND?
I love to wonder what animals think and the hardest animals to figure out to me are invertebrates. What are those little doo-dads thinking about? In the end I just don't know and that's OK. Sometimes nature is a mystery!
The song "The Ants Came Marching" in has always been a favorite of mine. I love spooky grooves but I always wondered why the theme of ants marching was wrapped up in such a spooky tune. So I decided to make the lyrics spooky too so the music and the lyrics would go in the same direction. My good buddy Fysah Sands helped out with some great soul vocals to give it an extra spooky feeling. Put this on when you are getting ready to go out to trick or treat next Halloween!
THE SOFTEST GUITAR ON THE MOON
This came about from an exercise where I put random words together and this title came out of it and I challenged myself to write a song using those words. This is another song that has been looking for a home on an album for a long long time and it has finally found its place. I feel like this song could be in a musical about a guitar that was left on the moon.
When my wife and I moved into our new house way back in 2008 we rented a big moving truck. As I pulled out of the parking lot of the rental place I put on the turn signal and it made this little two note rhythm that immediately inspired a melody form me and as we moved all day I sang with the turn signal Eventually after toying with lyrical ideas I saw a stand up comic talking about how toddlers are always excited to run away from their parents but don't have any idea what would happen if they got away and the lyrical idea for the tune was born.
When I was a kid I played a composition on the piano called minuet in G by Christian Petzold (it was mistakenly credited to Bach most of the time). I have forgotten most all of the songs I learned as a kid during my 10 years taking piano lessons but this one stuck with me. I added a second part that I wrote myself and a bunch of imagery of relaxing sheep. Usually you count sheep to go to sleep so counting sheep that are relaxing a bunch of different ways should be the MOST relaxing thing to help you sleep. Goodnight!
DECK THE HALLS
This is just a great classic holiday tune! The melody is Welsh and dates back to the sixteenth century and belongs to a winter carol, "Nos Galan", while the English lyrics date to 1862. As with a bunch of these old classics I have tweaked the lyrics to make them my own and give them an updates feel. The solo section in this one is a bit of a nod to Vince Guaraldi who made the classic Charlie Brown Christmas TV special music that I grew up with.
JOY TO THE WORLD
The words are by English hymn writer Isaac Watts and is based on the second half of Psalm 98 in the Bible. The song was first published in 1719 in a collection of Watt's writings. As with all of the traditional songs on this album that refer directly to Christ and God I have decided to secularize the lyrics to reflect a more family oriented perspective on the holiday season. I loved making the new middle part for this one. Adding new bits to old songs is on old my favorite things about songwriting.
CANDLE IN THE SNOW
There is based on a great old hillbilly bluegrass tune called "I Wish I Was A Mole In The Ground". I have always loved that tune but wanted to find a new way to do it so I finally settled on adapting it for this album to be about different light sources in the wintertime. Hope you dig it.
This one was extremely fun to record and sing. I decided to go for a chugging feel rather than an oompah vibe. This song was written by James Lord Peirpont and published under the title "One Horse Open Sleigh" in the autumn of 1857. Even though it is now associated with the Christmas it was actually originally written for the Thanksgiving holiday! I updated the lyrics to be a little less old fashioned in the wording and to flow a bit better for my style.
I had a song for years called Cloudy Cloud, which mutated into a song called Snowy Snow and it never really felt finished. I scrapped all the lyrics once I decided to call the album Winter Party I realized I could turn this unfinished song into the title track. So I wrote new verses about all the animals gathering for a party in the winter. Feel free to do a tiny little miniscule wee baby funky dance to this groovy tune!
WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS
This one is the most straightforward version of an original Christmas carol. I just turned up the energy a bit and kept the lyrics as they were. It felt right in this case. All I wanted to do was to with you a merry Christmas. Pretty straight forward. YAY!
I remember being a little kid and waiting patiently until Christmas day when I was finally allowed to eat the candy canes off the tree. It seemed to take forever and ever. Originally this song was just about how awesome candy is but that seemed a little irresponsible since I tend to stay away from sugar to stay healthy. So I sat on it for a few years until this album came along and I gave the candy a new story. I love this high energy little ditty AND I love candy canes in moderation!
PUMPKIN IN THE PINES
I wanted to do a cover of Good King Wenceslas but I found myself unable to update the lyrics in a way that felt right. One day during the recording of the album I had a funny vision of a pumpkin that does not rot after Halloween but instead floats around in the woods until Christmas eve and can't rest until it is let in to someone's house and shown some Christmas cheer. The song just poured out of me and came together in a flash! I think I invented the word "decomposted" for this song as well.
I took the tune from the French song Alouette and adapted it to be about a little penguin that is cold. Is that possible? Why not! It was fun to track this and make my voice sound different for the different parts. An easy song to join in with and sing along so feel free!
O CHRISTMAS TREE
The modern lyrics were written in 1824 by the Leipzig organist, teacher and composer Ernst Anschutz. The original lyrics do not actually refer to Christmas at all or describe a decorated Christmas tree. Instead, they refer to the fir tree's evergreen qualities as a symbol of consistency and faithfulness. I decided to have this one change keys as it goes on so that is gets more and more uplifting. I really love this song. So tender and sweet.
THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS
The song was published in England in 1780 without music as a chant or rhyme, is thought to be originally French and the melody is by English composer Frederic Austin. As with most old songs I record I wanted to make the lyrics new and more "Babypants-ish" so I changed it all to be about animals of course. So no more partridge in that pear tree. Now it's a porcupine. You are WECOME!
The song was first performed on Christmas Eve in 1818 at St Nicholas parish church in Oberndorf, Austria. A young priest, Father Joseph Mohr, had come to Oberndorf the year before. He had already written the lyrics of the song "Stille Nacht" in 1816. The melody was composed by Franz Xaver Gruber in the nearby village of Arnsdorf. Before Christmas Eve, Mohr brought the words to Gruber and asked him to compose a melody and guitar accompaniment for the church service. Both performed the carol during the mass on the night of December 24. All I did was, again, remove the religious references and make the lyrics more broad based and add a bit of a country feel and a brand new middle part! So it is a bit of a three way collaboration between Mohr, Gruber and Babypants!
DAYS GONE BY (AUD LANG SYNE)
I have always loved this song. It is a Scots poem written by Robert Burns in 1788 and was set to the tune of a traditional folk song of the time. Back in the old days I used to go to The Dog House before it was closed down and sing this classic at midnight on New Years Eve with all the regulars. Those were some of the best New Years Eves of my life. I decided to translate the old Scottish saying into English so that kids could understand the sentiment behind the lyrics. I ended up writing a bunch of new lyrics that refer to the original vibe of the song, which is nostalgic and emotional.
ALPHABET CHRISTMAS LULLABY
This one started out as a song for Mindy Thomas at Kids Place Live. I made a little Christmas greeting song for her show a couple of years ago. One day I heard it as I was strolling through my unreleased songs and expanded it to be this little album closing mellow tune. My favorite line is "X is for X-mass a handy abbreviation". I was pretty proud of that one! Hope you enjoy this album closing mellow tune.
BECAUSE I LOVE YOU
When my kids were little I would be the one to get up with them at the crack of dawn everyday while their Mom caught up on some sleep. One morning I was up with my daughter watching the sun come up over the Cascade mountains and I began singing this little song to her about all the love I felt for her and how it made all the bad parts of life seem little. 15 years later she is a teenager and now you all get to hear the song. I love you Josie! I got to use a BIG horn section on this one too.
ICE CREAM MAN
This song came from a kid that sent me lyrics through my website. Delaney Murphy sent me this song and I tweaked the lyrics and put it to music and here it is in all it's little glory. I wrote a song for the ice cream man that drove around in my neighborhood when I was a kid and hoped to put it on a Caspar album but this song turned out better then mine so I recorded this one instead. I like the idea that the ice cream man is trying to hide instead of wanting the kids to get their ice cream. So thanks Delaney for the great song!
GO! GO! GO!
I just started singing this to myself in the car when I was driving around one day for hours. I don't really know where it came from. I started to think about how the culture of America says "GO GO GO!" and how silly it can all be. The baby in the song has houses in Paris and Tibet and a nanny and a tutor and a mommy and a dog and just goes nuts until he finds inner peace and says "STOP STOP STOP!" So take it easy out there! I love the little sort of African pop solo part in there. That was super fun to make.
My Dad was a pretty great lyricist and he and I wrote a few songs together while he was alive. This was not one of them. I found this in a collection of odds and ends that I ended up with after he passed away a couple of years ago. I couldn't believe that I found a song that he had written that he had never shared with me. It was just the chorus and one verse so I set it to music and wrote some more verses for it and before I knew it I had written a Caspar song with my dear departed old Daddy. Love you pop.
POP GOES THE WEASEL
Wow, this one was a FUN struggle! I tried and tried to find a way to move this tune into the future without loosing the original imagery and intent of the song. The term "pop goes the weasel" was a slang for loosing a button on your coat in 1800s England. The "eagle" in the story was a pub so "in and out the eagle" was a way to say in and out of the pubs. Basically the song is bout choosing drink over taking care of your tattered clothes or yourself! I decided to change it to be about a band in London in the 1960s that has unexpected success and then tries to stay on the charts but ends up back on the street busking for pennies. A cautionary rock and role fable.
This song started out many many years ago as an instrumental that was part of a big 800 piece library that I would license to commercials and movies. I always loved the image of a tiny horse but never took the time to turn it into a proper narrative song. Finally I did and boy oh boy was it hard to do! I must have rewritten this one 5 times to get the balance of abstract and narrative to work. You know...a typical song about finding a horse in a shoe then pairing that horse up with a tiny cowboy then watching them ride off to international fame in Japanese rodeos. I am glad my mind is weird or this song would not exist.
I came across a fiction writer named Ann Pancake and laughed at that name. Then I suddenly remembered the old story about the runaway pancake and how I had not tackled that story yet in song form. So I stretched her name out to Annabelle and tried to write it. The trouble was the rhyming part. I could not paint the picture with the lyrics and make it rhyme at the same time. SO I decided to just talk about the scenes and forget about the rhyming part. It was fun to forget about that challenge and just let go.
WIDE BRIGHT EYES
I wrote a sweet slow love song for my wife Kate when we first met called WIDE BROWN EYES and wanted to turn it into a high energy hillbilly jam about looking into your babies eyes and seeing all the boundless intelligence that is in every babies eyes. Babies are enlightened humans and this song is my homage to them and their happy sparkle quality! Justin Lansing from The Okee Dokee Brothers plays banjo on this one. Thanks Justin!
Originally this song was called BEN CONVENTION and it was about a gathering of people named Ben that all had different emotions. That proved to be way too abstract as it turns out so I changed it to be about one person named Susan and all the different moods and feeling that one person can have. I chose the name Susan just because it sounded good after the word moody in the title. It is ok to feel all kinds of thing and you don't always have to feel happy. I was inspired by the amazing Big Block Sing Song series to make this song. Check them out...they are AMAZING.
This is an old public domain song called RATTLESNAKE that I found through the amazing Spider John Koerner (The song SPIDER JOHN is dedicated to him) and in his version there are a whole bunch of animals that he quizzes about how they got their various attributes. I decided to just make it about the snake and just the snake. I love how it bounces along and has that groovy weird breakdown. I like to do a tiny snake like dance to this one and I encourage you to do the same.
Originally this song was called FROZEN THE FISH and it was bout a fish stick on my plate and how it wished it could swim off my dish and all the things the fish would do if it was free to go. While I had a good supply of rhymes in the "ish" department it was too morbid for my taste. So I changed it to be about a jellyfish that wishes to do all sorts of things on dry land but can't because he has no bones. This is one of two little miniature rock operas on this album. Can you name the other one?
SLEEPY SNAIL AND SPEEDY SPIDER
After not hearing from her for a LONG time my old friend Azalia Snail and I were in touch with each other. Of course my mind immediately wandered to snails and then to my recent effort to slow down and do a bit less in life so that I have time to just BE and observe the world unfold. So after a bunch of false starts and lyric revisions this little tale of a slow snail and a speedy spider being unlikely friends was born. Don't be afraid to take time to do nothing everyone. And it's ok to be busy too! Which one are you mostly? Sleepy? Speedy?
CHICKEN IN THE CORNBREAD
I picked up a banjo one day and began playing this melody out of nowhere. This is a case of me writing a song that sounds like an old song from long ago that I am updating but it is an original new tune. I love the idea that a chicken will want to peck at my cornbread so badly that it will learn how to fly and time travel in order to get a bit for itself. That chicken is very persistent. I added the "why did you eat my cornbread chicken chicken" part way after recording the song.
This is another one that went through a multiple year journey from idea to being finished. We were in Hawaii way back in 2009 and a bird came into our hotel room and Kate and I named him Goober and I wrote a song about him. The problem was that I ripped off The Who's song Tommy without realizing it. Good old "Weird" Al Yankovic alerted me to the blunder when I sent him some rough mixes to check out and so I rewrote the whole song with a new melody and a story about wanting to keep the bird but the bird saying "NO!". All of that took 6 years so you better enjoy it! This is the other little rock opera on the album. I snuck a little bit of an homage to Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen in there in the middle too.
In it's early stages this one was called MISTER POOP believe it or not. It was about how food changes after you eat it into POOP! But in the end (HA! Get it? END?) it was too poopy based so I changed it to be about clouds and how they change shape and form. Plus I think it is fun to imaging talking to clouds. They go through a lot of changes. They know stuff. They are patient and adaptable which are good attributes. I loved rhyming "bottom" with "autumn". That was my nod to the original lyrics.
DIGGIN' WITH THE CLAMS
Kate and I used to go to Doe Bay on San Juan Island a bunch years ago to sleep in tents and sit in hot pools. One time when we were there and poking around on the beach this song just came drifting into my brain. I rushed back to the tent and wrote it on a wee ukulele and a scrap of paper. It sounds like a fun challenge to try to dig fast enough to keep up with those little clams. I played it that night at an open mic at the restaurant there but it took 4 years to finish writing it and get it recorded. I am slower than those fast little clams.
I was watching a DVD by The Okee Dokee Brothers where they travel in Appalachia and write songs as they go. It was beautifully done and they sound great. At one point they meet an old man living in a shack in the forest and they hang out with him for a bit. He seemed pretty prickly and like he wanted to be alone way out there but he let them spend time with him anyway. Somehow the music they were playing and the idea of being isolated gave rise to this idea of being unhuggable and things that are prickly in nature. Justin from The Okee Dokee Brothers played banjo on this track and Joe sang harmonies on the choruses. Thanks for the inspiration guys!
One day Kate and I were having breakfast at our neighborhood grocery store when I was an article about a man who tried to smuggle 35 turtles into the country in his pants! Minutes before I read that I telling Kate about the fact that I had not written any songs about trains before. She chirped "you should write a song about a turtle train!" and so I did! The song came out of slowing down for a leisurely breakfast in town and turned out the song is about slowing down in life. I think I am more of a sleepy snail than a speedy spider.
IF YOU'RE SLEEPY
Many many years ago in 2000 when I made the first collection of songs for PEPS (Program for Early Parent Support) to use in their parent education meetings I had my friend Jen Wood into my studio to sing on a bunch of songs. In the middle of doing IF YOU'RE HAPPY AND YOU KNOW IT we needed a break from the chirpy chipper peppy vibes of the songs we were tracking and I started to play these mournful chords as the tape was running. Jen improvised over it with new lyrics about being sleepy and a new melody and the song was born! It was rough and short though and needed to be recorded for real. That task only took 15 years to complete and now it can finally see the light of day.
SGT. PEPPERS LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND
I wanted to do the Sgt. Peppers bookend thing on the first record but there were just too many songs to do it. So now's my chance! This song was the first Beatles song I ever heard since I got Sgt. Peppers when it came out in 1967 when I was only 2 years old so it is completely intermingled with my sense of being a child and the surreal possibilities of the Beatles music. Amazingly the beginning sound of the orchestra tuning up was from a totally unrelated recording I made on an accordion and I had not included it until I realized it sounded just like the chord on the record (or at least my memory of it) and it fit perfectly. A nice serendipity moment which is great because the making of the real Sgt. Peppers record was full of coincidences when the Beatles recorded it.
WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS
This was the last song to make it onto the album and I was resisting it for a while because of the "get high" line but then I was at my friend Mark's house and some friends of his were telling me how their kid sang this song in a school choir presentation and the teacher told them that "high" meant feeling really good and happy! They were really insistent that I record it for this album so in that context I decided to record it. Boy am I glad I did. It is pretty fun to have it in the number two spot just like on the original album. Originally Ringo recorded his vocals at 5:45am after a full night of recording other songs. Poor little Ringo!
When I thought about how to make this song fresh I noticed that at it's core it has a church kind of feeling. So I just sped it up and energized it with a sort of gospel explosion. Of all the songs on the album this one was the easiest for me to sing for some reason. It just flowed out so naturally and I did the lead vocal in one take. I was literally bouncing off the walls in my studio as I did the shouting singing celebration at the end! Paul wrote this for John's son Julian so it is at it's heart a kid's song already.
STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER
This is the one that inspired me to make this second collection of Beatles songs. I just could not stop thinking about this song and before I knew it I was in the studio making a new version. It came out so well that I figured I might as well go ahead and make the whole second album! I am happy to present this song also because it is the companion song to Paul's Penny Lane about childhood. Strawberry Fields was a park that John played in when he was little and the song is his tribute to a happy time when he was small and life was simple.
FOR YOU BLUE
I really loved this song when I was a kid. The slinky feeling of the music made me super happy. One day my Dad took me out to lunch at a pizza place called Shakey's and they had a jukebox with For You Blue on it. This was probably 1974 so it was only a few years after the song came out. When I asked my Dad for a dime to play the song he said I couldn't have one because I had the record at home and could hear it for free. I think in the end that experience made the song even sweeter since every time I hear it I remember NOT being able to play it. Thanks DAD!
I have always LOVED this song and the drone like sound of it and the sentiment which is that a rainy day is not a bad day at all and that we create these limitations for ourselves that require everything to be perfect in order to be happy. I just wanted to lighten it up and make the content of the vocals come to the front. At its core this is a super simple song with a super simple message. Be happy because you are alive not because of your surroundings.
ONE AFTER 909
The amazing thing about this song is that although it appeared on one of their last records is among the very first songs that John Lennon and Paul McCartney ever wrote. In the beginning the Beatles played without a drummer for a bunch of their first gigs and because there were four guitars they sold the lack of a drummer with eh phrase "The rhythm's in the guitars!". I decided to see how that theory would sound and just made this thing with only guitars save for the little Billy Preston style piano here and there (and HORNS! oops). Interesting side note is that Billy Preston who played piano on this song on Let It Be also played with and socialized with the Beatles in 1962 when he was Little Richard's organist and played shows with the lads from Liverpool around the time when they wrote this song.
This was one where I felt the original was pretty clear and clean and may not need covering but I could not resist recording it because it is so much FUN to play and sing! It tells a vivid story too which is always a winning quality of a good song for me. I can really SEE the story and atmosphere come to life in my head as I listen to it. So I indulged myself and put it on the album.
THE FOOL ON THE HILL
This one was hard to sing! I had to redo it a few times to get my voice near those high notes and ring out like Paul's does on the original song. But it was worth it. I got the broken baby keyboard to do the bass line here again and got a funny gnome from the garden to come in and play flute. Another example of getting a bit more energy and speed into the performance than the original to bring out the groove of the song.
The word is LOVE! What better sums up the Beatles contribution to our collective unconscious that their promotion of the concept of loving each other. I ramped up the country feel in this version just because I always heard it bubbling just under the surface and it was fun to bring it out a bit. This one did not make it onto the first record and I am glad it didn't because I added a bunch of bells and whistles to this new version.
This is the ultimate song of praise for you exhausted mothers out there! How do you do what you do? It seemed to be an easy choice for a record that is mostly for the parents since it is about the mother of all mothers! It was fun to create the super angelic "see how they run" parts and use my super broke down old Kawai baby keyboard for the bass line. I sure do love a half busted cheapo keyboard.
Singing about pigs has been a little fun surreal pastime of mine since I was a kid. Strange that I have not written a Caspar Babypants song about a pig but I do sing about then as I bop around all day. SO this seemed like a great one to include. I loved replicating the end part with he crisp cellos too. This one was also recorded for the first album but got bumped so it is great to have the chance to get it out here.
Another track that did not make it onto the first album. The lovely and talented Rachel Flotard helps out on vocals and does a great job with the harmonies. I like this one for kids because it is repetitive and deals with opposites. A little bit of an opportunity to think about that stuff. Also the fat luscious chords are so fun to play and listen to.
BABY YOU'RE A RICH MAN
I got to go nuts with the little funny broken baby keyboard and did all the sounds for this song with it! I have played this song live a bunch with my grown up band and originally thought I would do it pretty straight and strummy on a guitar but once I fired up that silly keyboard things just flowed and it all came together. I like turning a groovy song into a new wave binary thing. Plus it has the word "baby" in it so I HAD to do it!
WHEN I'M SIXTY FOUR
I was actually not going to record this one because the original is so clear and clean and it did not really need a new version but I recorded this version with that slide guitar and just got hooked by the prospect of leaning the song into the country direction. When I was a kid I would sing along to Paul McCartney's slightly sped up vocals on this song and match his delivery note for note and feel like I was in the band. They sped them up to make him sound younger since he wrote this song when he was a teenager.
I always thought of this as a song that a parent was singing to a kid trying to get them to get out of the house and explore together. I hope that is how families will hear it when they listen to this version. I treated this one a bit like Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds with a clear plucky bass line and a descending clavinet line. I was trying to bring it out of it's drone like state and make it move a bit more.
GOOD DAY SUNSHINE
This was also recorded for the first record but did not make the cut. It is actually the first song that got me thinking about a Beatles cover album in the first place. I was warming up for a show at a library and I strummed an open D chord on my guitar and it sounded exactly like the beginning chord of this song. That got my wheels turning and here we are several years later with two full albums of Beatles songs done! I like the contrast in this song between the flow chorus and the tight bouncy verses. A tiny bit of romantic love in this one but I will let it slide because the music is so good. Thanks to Rachel Flotard for the chorus vocals!
DRIVE MY CAR
When I sat down to learn this one I was immediately struck by how odd the chords were. I had to decipher individual notes and then find a way to assemble the important ones into chords on the 3 string guitar. In the end I played what is really a D7 chord for the G chord in the song but it works. As I learned it I played it slowly since the chords were hard and mellow and it kind of got stuck like that. It works for me as a kind of slinky jazzy little thing with minimal instrumentation.
SGT. PEPPERS LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND (REPRISE)
Since this second half of the song is appearing at the end of a Caspar album it needed to be mellow as I always go from high energy to low energy when I arrange an album. So I thought this would be a good opportunity to do a high energy song in a subdued way. I decided to bring out the lush vocal harmonies and keep the same exact groove just slow it way down. It works with the lyrics of the show being "near the end" and all that. I dig it. I hope you do too.
There could only be one winner between this song and Goodnight for the final spot on the BABY BEATLES! album and Goodnight won by a wee little margin. I am super happy to have this recording included here because it makes me very sleepy indeed. Jen Wood brought a beautiful texture to this one. I love how it came out all floaty and misty and I hope it puts your little ones (and you!) to sleep and sweet dreams.
What a joy to add this song onto the end of the album. I had to learn the guitar solo parts one at a time in the original key and then transpose them to a different key and to the piano. It was like knitting a little sweater made of piano riffs! I called upon my childhood experience in a boys choir to make the giant vocal ending feel reverent and sweet. The last decision was do I or don't I add HER MAJESTY to the very end? I decided not to add it in the end (HA!) so that the slow fade out was the last thing a baby or a kid or a mom or a dad will hear. Plus if you let the album repeat then it fades into the beginning bit of SGT. PEPPERS making the whole thing into a circle.
JUST FOR YOU
This song came fully formed out my mind in Austin Texas one day. the chords and the music flowed out and it just felt loving and good so I wrote it down and kept it around for a couple of years before it found its way on to this album. I did change the words though. It was about a variety of things that a baby might need to deal with during the course of it's day like eating peas and taking a bath but when I changed all the imagery to be about the end of the day it felt better.
UP ALL NIGHT
There was a plan to make a TV show about animals and I was in line to be the host. Each show would be about a couple of specific animals and the idea was for me to improvise a song about each animal at the end of the episode. We did a little pilot episode at the Woodland Park Zoo and one of the animals was a snowy owl. This some was the bit that I made up about the owl. that was about 5 years ago and the song has finally found it's place here. I hope it does not encourage your kids to stay up all night! I think it is more about that desire than a suggestion to do so.
TAKE IT EASY
I was watching a special on TV with my Dad about the music from the movie "O Brother Where Art Thou?" and there was one particular performance that stood out. It was an elderly man on stage singing a song all by himself with no musicians. His voice had a lonely quality that was sweet and haunting at the same time. I tried to make this song occupy the same space but I got excited to put instruments on it so I made it about playing music so I could justify the added parts and music. This one is dedicated to my late great Daddy.
WONDER WHY YOU HIDE
I made up this riff while sitting in the sun on my porch one day and it always reminded me of Nick Drake a bit so I kept playing it as an instrumental. then I saw little creatures running away to hide for the night in my mind. Musically I worked very hard on this one to make it move from part to part and not get monotonous. Lots of weaving guitar bits coming together here. Getting that lead vocal to sit right took a while. It was challenging but I love the results!
DAY IS GONE
Just a simple song about things shutting down for the night. No big story here. Just a sweet little turn of phrase that made me smile. I do like the stop and start quality of the arrangement and that came about over time. That effect makes me sleepy.
THROUGH YOUR WINDOW
Long ago I lived in Boston and I went through a period where I did not write very many songs at all. From time to time I would just improvise and try to push out a song. I was in my room and sang about the view from my window and that was it. That song sat around for 20 years unfinished then I read a book about the psychology of children's books and why some work and some don't. In the book they talked about "Goodnight Moon" and why it was successful and the iconic, romantic relationship we humans have with the moon and how that fires children's imaginations. When that song floated back into my mind I focused on the idea that image of the moon is about fantastic distance and possibility for adventure and made the verses about the crazy things that you might do out there under the moon.
BENEATH THE WATER
After hurricane Katrina a friend of mine was working on songs based on stories of survivors. He sent me some movies and testimonials and I was struck by one guy who told his story of loosing his family in the water. That sparked a song called "My Mother Is The Water" which I gave to the project but it did not get used. So I changed the theme to be about fish and how they sleep under the water during storms and stay cozy despite the tempest above.
This song is dedicated to a good friend and amazing chef named Christina Choi who passed away a few years ago suddenly. I had a dream about her in which she was a big blue dragonfly in a twighlight swamp and I was going to visit her. When I told Kate about the dream and told her the song was called "Dragonfly Blue" she said that was so weird because the color of the paint on the walls of Christina's restaurant was called "dragonfly blue". That coincidence made the song really come alive. Originally this was a little song called "My Dolphin Blue" that my daughter Josie wrote with her cousin Claire. But try as I might I could not make the dolphin imagery work for me. When the image of a blue dragonfly came along I rewrote the words and the song was born.
DEEP IN THE DIRT
Originally this was called "Deep In The Middle" and it was about being in the middle of a strange dream that you could not get out of but it was too weird and scary! So I made it about all the wee critters that live in the dirt hoping that thinking about them would make little brains tired. Hope it works!
THE LAND OF SHUSH
This came out of playing at a library in Olympia one day. While I was setting up I was talking with the librarians Sara Lachman and Mary Rulewicz about how librarians have to go around saying "SHHHH!" to everyone. they said they really didn't have to do that very much but it made me start to play a riff and make up a song on the spot called "The Land of Shush". I ended up playing it that day at the show and a few years later here it is on an album. Thanks for the inspiration Sara and Mary.
I found an old old recording of me singing a song to Augie when he was very small called "Sick Puppy". I liked the melody and the phrasing but when I thought about is for a Caspar song I didn't want to have the word sick in there. On the recording you can hear Augie asking "Sick puppy?? Why is there a sick puppy??" and it is really cute! So I turned it into Sad Puppy then Sad Monkey then realizing I had 4 monkey songs going at the same time it became Sad Baby for this album. No matter how sad it feels to be left alone to go to sleep you will feel better after a good nights sleep I promise.
The first version of this song was recorded in 2001 for an album of songs for kids that I donated to PEPS (Program for Early Parent support). It was called "Close Your Eyes Little Sister" and I changed the title to be a bit more universal in case you don't have a sister. Originally it was written for my daughter Josie as a lullaby that I sang to her as she went to bed. This thing has SO many chords in it that it is pretty fun to play on piano.
Augie made up a song with no music that he called "Sliver Moon" when he was SUPER little. He had another song about the moon as well (supporting the romantic connection to little minds with the moon from the book mentioned above!) and he saw the sliver moon one night and just started busting out a song of love. I only remember the title and turned it into my own song. There is something interesting about this recording. There is another Caspar Babypants song that uses the exact same chords as "Sliver Moon" but is way more up beat. Can you figure out which one it is? Contact me if you think you know. That happened because I liked the chords to this song but had too many slow songs so I turned it into a whole new song using the same chords. Later I found this original recording and it fit on this album so here it is.
DRIFT OFF IN TIME
This started out as a Christmas song about Santa and Christmas trees and stuff but I gave up on making a Christmas record and the song lay around unfinished. I got rid of the specific Christmas stuff and made it about being cozy inside as the cold world freezes outside and all you have to do is drift off in time. The original theme was about not being able to go to sleep on Christmas night.
UNDO YOUR MIND
I had this basic fragment lying around for many years unfinished and it was called "Fingertips" and did not have the "undo your mind" line in it. Somehow it felt half baked and when I put that idea of shutting off your chattering mind in there it felt right! The long trippy outro part is one of my favorite moments on the album.
MADE OF LIGHT
As I do more meditation on a daily basis I have reached states of mind where I see the material world as made of light. It is hard to describe in words but that is the best way to talk about it. This is the longest Caspar Babypants song ever and it may work well to put it on repeat in a sleeping babies room on low volume and see if it lulls the little thing to sleep. I wanted to have a song that is not about anything specific to going to sleep but is about a universal energetic sensation that is an abstraction of losing consciousness and drifting off to dreamland.
What a long strange journey this song was to put together! Originally this came from hanging out with my fiend Dave's daughter Katherine in the early morning in Ohio just talking about the day starting up and what we might want to do. I had a guitar and started turning some of our conversation into a song and that was the seed. Then it got recorded and went through many changes and editing. The last part to be added was the beginning quote from a piece called "Morning" from the Peer Gynt Suite by Edvard Grieg. I quoted him before in the song Skeletone. I love the HUGE ending on this song. I think that is the biggest moment on any Caspar Babypants album!
THE LITTLEST WORM
This is a camp song that gets sung around the campfire by campers at...wait for it...CAMP! Originally the worm gets stuck inside a soda straw but I didn't want soda pop anywhere near my song so I changed it to have the worm be lost in a huge pile of straw. I also gave it a bit of a gospel feel with good call and response opportunities. So sing along!
This is just about a bird that builds all kinds of modes of transportation for himself. I don't know if he forgot how to fly or if he is just an industrious little thing. I wonder if he is the same bird that shows up in the song BIRD IN AN AIRPLANE SUIT later on the album? I had a blast recording this one and it came together really fast. It is a riff off of a traditional song called Red Bird that I heard Ledbelly play on an album one time.
CREATURES UNDER MY BED
One day I was walking around in Roanoke Virginia many many years ago and I saw a poster for a show that was happening in town and the band that on the poster was called "The Yams From Outer Space" and I immediately started writing a song about them using my imagination to make them really from outer space. Years and years later I changed it to be about a band of creatures that plays under my bed because the other version was just too weird! I like that the band is not scary just really catchy.
HUSH LITTLE BABY
Oh my goodness. This was an EPIC effort to find a way to do this song that is fresh and true to it's roots. First of all I tried doing it the classic mellow way but the lyrics are so full of random images and "if this then this" that I found it to be very ineffective as a lullaby. Also it was always about what Mama would give you. Where was the Papa? I tried doing it Chuck Berry style but it just sat there. I tried it with other singers. I tried it with new verses but the lyrics were always a bit materialistic with all the disappointment and BUYING things for the kid. FINALLY I found the source of this song which is an old work song called HAMBONE. That version has energy and swagger. I rewrote the lyrics to include both Mama and Papa and put it to the original higher energy feel and solved the puzzle. Rachel Flotard came in and helped with the Mama voice and BAM! it was finished after only four years of trying!
There is an old often played folk song called John Henry about a legendary train tunnel construction worker who beat out a steam engine in a contest to drive holes in rocks for explosives. So naturally I thought it would be perfect for a Caspar Babypants reincarnation! I changed it to be about a mouse that makes a name for himself by learning how to grab the bait out of traps without getting trapped. I wonder if he will ever get caught?
BIRD IN AN AIRPLANE SUIT
Ever since my kids were little I have been telling them that some of the airplanes you see in the sky are not big and far away but close and little and actually are birds dressed up like airplanes! They are grown up now but I still like to pretend that it is true so I turned that idea into this little song. I had wanted to write a song about this idea for a long time but had to wait for years for the right melody to present itself. I am glad I waited. I love this song.
This one started out as a really abstract song called PRETTY SPARKLE that was a variation on an old folk song called BETTY LARKIN that I heard Pete Seeger sing on a record. I was trying to capture the wonder of being alive in a song. It turned out to be too abstract so I gutted it and made it about this wee crab that I met on the beach on an island a little while ago. It seemed like it was having a bad day and wanted to get me but it was also an amazing creature with its intricate shell. In the end you can listen to this song if you are feeling crabby and maybe it will cheer you up!
THE RUNAWAY SHOES
I wrote this little ditty with my little friend Daniel who is a huge Caspar fan and has come to many many shows. One time I was doing a sort of hang out songwriting session at Camp Long in West Seattle and Daniel came and helped me come up with this song. I wrote two versions with totally different music because I was not sure how best to capture the fast and slow thing. In the end this is a unique song because of the speed changes and the funny idea that your shoes would want to run around in the night without you! Thanks for the help Daniel!!
We have a little cabin in the woods on an island and there are fiddlehead ferns all around the cabin. I noticed that they go to sleep in the winter and look like they are going to never come back but when spring comes they uncurl and dance around in the wind. So I wrote this song for them. It feels like an old song but it came right out of my little brain. I am excited to write original songs that could sound like quotes from old tunes.
The obvious companion to the song about the rain a little later on the album is a song about mud puddles! I tracked the percussion for this song for a song I did for a Woody Guthrie tribute album and I loved the percussion so much that I put a bunch of music on it and expanded it and just out of nowhere started singing about puddles and mud and imagining all the chaos that happens when you step in a puddle. Tread lightly next time you splash around on a rainy day kids!
RIG A JIG JIG
A classis left over from he very first recordings I did for PEPS back in 2001. I rerecorded this one from scratch with a new part and new verses too. Jen Wood is back singing the lead vocal too just like the original. She has the perfect simple innocent little voice for this tune. It's just a simple bouncy number. Grab your baby and dance dance dance.
THE GIRL WITH THE SQUIRELL IN HER HAT
I completely dreamed this song. It was fully formed in a dream and the only thing I changed was that in the dream it was a rocker and it sounded better in the end as bit more of a folk feel. I also changed the animal that is living in the girls hat from a snake to a squirrel because after I recorded it I didn't like the sound of SNAKE and squirrel rhymes with girl. It is not often that a song in a dream turns out to be any good at all. Usually they are so nonsensical that even if I remember them they are too abstract. I am super glad that this one worked out.
ROCK A BYE BABY
Of course this is a classic but I wanted to not do it the old fashioned way and make it a lullaby so I gave it just a touch more energy and turned it into a sort of lilting rock and roll number. I guess the word ROCK in the title made me want to make it ROCK a little bit! Rachel Flotard came in and really concentrated on an amazing vocal performance. Her harmonies MAKE the song come to life. Thanks Rachel!
RAIN RAIN COME TODAY
The old chant of "rain rain go away come again some other day" always seemed a bit harsh to me. That poor rain has no choice but to fall and we NEED it to fall. I used to love to go out in the rain when I was a kid and I still do. I always say there is no such thing as bad weather just bad clothes. Once when I was super little I was in the rain and I sang the old traditional version and it stopped raining immediately when I finished. I guess I remembered that and it made me want to do a song that praises the rain a bit.
I dedicate this song to the memory of Earl Anderson. He was the father of the mother of my kids and a great human being. Unfortunately he passed away. I used a term of endearment that his wife Jani used to call him for the title of this song. I wanted to remind all of us that lost him that he is still around in the stillness of a quiet morning if you get up early and just listen. We all love you early bird.
HOLD FAST BABY BARNACLE
I heard an old Irish drinking song one day and wanted to maybe turn it into a Caspar song but it turned out to be a dead end. So I made up my own from scratch in the same feel as the one I heard but with all new chords and lyrics. I love the idea of a wee barnacle being scared in the night with the crashing waves and storms and al the other barnacles singing encouragement to hold on tight.
This is based on an old work song recorded by Alan Lomax out in the field in the deep south of America. Originally it was titles SATISFIED but I changed it to SLEEPY EYED and made it a sort of trance like chant about not wanting to go to sleep. So the lyrics are protesting going to sleep while the music will hopefully make you drowsy. I wonder if it will work to actually make kids feel relaxed? Sing along then sleep along...
BYE BYE DAY
My friend John Roderick has a young daughter named Marlo and one night as they were getting ready for bed they were standing at the window and it was quiet and the light was fading out and in the silence she said in a super cute and tiny voice "bye bye day". He told me the story and I immediately could hear the song to go with that phrase. It changed a bit as I wrote it but mostly it is the moment of joy at hearing that story that is in the song. Hope it makes you go to bed and dream.
When I was little I would put Abbey Road on the turntable and put the speaker in the window of my bedroom and run around all day with the album on repeat as we played in the sun. To me this song says "get out and be in nature and feel the seasons change" and I thought it would be the perfect first song for the record. I sped up the original tempo and gave it an energizing feel so that you can move and groove to it. This is the only use of synthesizer on a Caspar Babypants record!
ALL TOGETHER NOW
I thought it would be fun to put tension into this song. The original is loose and ragged but I thought that the theme of being all together would be illustrated and supported by making the recording tight and very together. I was not going to do this one originally because it seemed obvious and over done, but when I found a way to make it my own it became one of my favorites. Sing it.
EVERYBODY'S GOT SOMETHING TO HIDE EXCEPT FOR ME AND MY MONKEY
This was and still is my number one tippy top of the mountain favorite Beatles song of all time! I used to put it on at full blast and run around the house naked refusing to take a bath! I ended up making the energy small and tight and making it feel like a soul groove tiny little plucky thing and I LOVE IT!! that oddball beginning was really fun to dissect and understand too. I figured out the secret of it....but I'm not telling! Fysah sings the lead here and I chime in from time to time. She sounds soul-tastic!
YOUR MOTHER SHOULD KNOW
I promote the idea that old fashioned music is worth listening to and getting into and I quote music from many years ago in my own songs. I certainly raided my own parents record collection for inspiration when I was a kid and found some amazing bits that still influence me. Plus this song is a call to get up and move to the beat so I like it near the beginning of the record to keep the dance party moving along. And mother's usually know what is what!
A simple rocker that I wanted to strip of all of it's noise and make it funny and little. SO I DID! This good time little celebration thing gets a boost from Rachel Flotard on backing vocals doing the Yoko parts. The inspiration for this song came from an improvisation in India that The Beatles did for Mike Love from the Beach Boys on his birthday. It kind of stuck and turned into this song from there.
It's Ringo's turn to sing folks! With this song I noticed that the call and response at the end was always my favorite part. The song seemed to open up and get really fun at that point. So I took that dynamic and made it the whole focus of my version. To take it a bit further and make it simple I took out almost all of the music to make the story and images really clear. Dust off your signing voice and join in! Rachel Flotard and Jen Wood are doing the responses. Jen had to sing EXTRA high to do her part. THANKS JEN!
OB LA DI OB LA DA
The story goes that this was the first song that the band tracked for The White Album and Paul ran everybody ragged with many many takes and attempts at getting the feel right. I love the family as a rag tag band of fun lovers feel to the lyrics and thought I would push the envelope on tempo and see how fast I could get this thing to move. I also cut it down by half almost to make it a quick burst of energy. Jen Wood plays the part of Molly and does a great job with the bubbly bouncy sing along attitude.
LOVE ME DO
This was the FIRST song the Beatles recorded as an original composition with George Martin and the LAST song that I recorded for this project. What I love about this song is how the skiffle influence is still apparent in the feel and rhythm of the original. I thought I would bring that out by turning it into a bit of a hillbilly vibe. I think it works really well as an old mountain song don't you? I can just see the Beatles sitting around on the back porch of a busted old shack in the swamps.
A great nostalgic stroll through the idyllic memories of a childhood neighborhood. I drive around in my old neighborhood every so often and soak in the atmosphere of my super happy childhood and can hear this song echoing around in the air. This song captures that feeling so well that it seemed like a natural fit for the album. It was extremely fun and even though it was a bit hard to replicate that French horn solo on the clavinet I finally nailed it!
MOTHER NATURE'S SON
This was one of the most delightful songs to record of them all. Someone suggested I take a look at this song when I was choosing which to try and I did and it just worked so well. Thanks for the idea! It turned out to fit exactly into the open tuning that I use on my 3 string guitar (D/A/D). I am not sure if Paul recorded this in a drop D tuning but it sure worked for me. A pretty faithful version but with a bit more energy. It is also hard to NOT do this one with the words "mother" and "son" in the title!
ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE
One of the best little uplifting songs the Beatles ever did. This was the first song I recorded for the album over three years ago. I wanted to contrast the verse and chorus by making the verse really sparse so the message of the song could come straight through. I chopped the song down to it's essential parts and kept it short and sweet and simple. It turns out that love IS all you need! Those mop tops were smart like that.
This is a classic example of changing the context of a song for this album. The original is rocking and loud and obviously about the object of the singers affection and desire. I just made it musically innocent by sprinkling some Buddy Holly vibrations on it and the meaning changed to be literally about a child. This was a fun chemistry experiment! AND I got to play my little harmonica. I was glad to sneak another early career Beatles song in to the mix as well.
Of course Ringo has to have at least one song on any Beatles album (and I gave him three!). This is one of the obvious choices that I resisted at first again because it has been done many times, but found that once I broke it down to the basics and simplified the layers a bit it stared to feel more like a Caspar tune. Since I love songs that allow you to travel to places that normal life can't take you I had to include this ticket to the bottom of the sea! The beginning part was really hard to figure out but I stuck with it all afternoon and finally got it!
ANY TIME AT ALL
This one was FUN! I started out with a crazy drum machine thing on a little cheap keyboard and built it up from there. In the end I got rid of the messy drum machine sounds and let the song breathe. The sentiment of unconditional love seems to make it a really good parent to child love song. Jen Wood helped out here with a sweet high harmony too.
CRY BABY CRY
Well it has the word BABY in the title right? John's original lyrics were from an advertisement he saw that said "cry baby cry, make your mother BUY" but he changed it a bit. I did a pretty straight forward version of this song just because it felt really good to play it that way. This one unfolds like a classic children's picture book and has that timeless nursery rhyme vibe to the images of kings and queens. My favorite part is the "séance in the dark"...spoooky!
LUCY IN THE SKY WITH DIAMONDS
Written about a drawing that Julian Lennon did with the same title this one seemed like a great addition to the album. I had to record this song twice from scratch because I had such a hard time getting the images to really pop out of the music. I tried it in the original key at first but it was too shrill for my taste so I lowered the pitch and changed the sound of the main instrument to be softer. Finally the images began to come to life and I think the extra effort paid off. I used to sing this one along with the record over and over when I was a kid matching John Lennon's vocal inflections word for word.
BEING FOR THE BENEFIT OF MR KITE
When I was a kid I loved the circus atmosphere of this song. It completely transported me to another place and that sensation became very important in my own songwriting later on. I found out later that John Lennon told their producer George Martin that he wanted to "smell the sawdust" from the floor of the circus tent when the recording played back. This was written about a circus poster that John found in an antique shop. Almost every word is from the poster! John loved to make lyrics out of found materials and I think that is very childlike.
This one was an interesting experience. I thought it would be great to change the main instrument away from that iconic guitar part so I figured out a very simple way to play it on piano. The trick is that you have to have a 10 note reach to do it! Luckily I can do that and have been able to since I was a kid. I never had a reason to use that skill until now though. I like the way playing it on piano makes it feel like a Bach piece and almost makes it a lullaby.
I'M ONLY SLEEPING
As I was researching for the record I found a demo version of this song that was just the first verse and chorus and was an instrumental track with a jazzy feel. The choice of vibraphone and a light drum beat worked perfectly and I thought it made a lot of sense since it is about being all groggy and sleepy. I made it even MORE sleepy by adding space and removing the drums. A great pre-last-song-lullaby lullaby! Time for a nap now....
I kept this one in the original key and same tempo but removed the heavy sugary strings and tried to make it light and airy. I must say that I get very sleepy every time I hear this recording so I think it will work well for your baby in the night time. The last whispering bit was fun to do too. It took one take and I just nailed it. Then I fell off my chair and napped for hours.
This is the first time that I have had a song on an album that is also the title! This song is a song of joy at having found Kate and also having found my voice as a songwriter. It started with Kate chirping the tune and words from the chorus from her studio and me overhearing her and finding a song in her little random chirps. the west side of our house was called "eyesore alley" before we cleaned it up and fixed it so that was the first lyric to come along for the verses. Just a song about the joy of being connected to the one you love and creativity!
Kids (and grownups) always have questions about how things came to be. How did that animal get that funny trait? I have been reading Darwin lately and thinking about evolution. Somehow it related to the Buddhist teaching where the first Buddha held up a flower without speaking. Disciples faded away as time went on except for one who finally smiled. The revelation was that the flower implied a long chain of events and conditions to allow it to exist and contemplating that mystery is the flowers message.
ALL THE FISH
I had recorded a version of this classic song for the second version of the PEPS record and really liked the simple "bubble bubble bubble pop" lyric. I wanted to push the music a bit and get it to be a bit more groovy and it ended up with this almost Andrews Sisters feel. One kid who is a friend of mine has made up dance moves to each verse but she is not sure what to do for the pig part!
This one started out as a slow song called "Sliver Moon" that had the same chords but did not find it's way on to an album for a few years. I just decided to shake things up and use the same chords but turn up the energy and when I did the music made me think of a kangaroo jumping about. Then I imagined that the kangaroo was in a zoo and could not hop as freely as it wanted to. I gotta get that poor thing outta there.
BABY OF MINE
What a funny journey this song was! I started out making a version of "hush Little Baby" as a lullaby. But the problem with that song as a lullaby is that the lyrics offer all sorts of confusing contingencies that did not feel relaxing to me. I found out later that the song started out as a more high energy work song. So I tried a fast version but I made it too fast and the lyrics buzzed by in a blur. So I just took the very end of the verse and made an entirely new song out of it. It is so fun to chop chop chop songs up into bits!
TWINKLE TWINKLE LITTLE STAR
I have already recorded two version of this song but I felt like I had not pushed it quite enough either time so I decided to try one more version.
I love the 60s feel that I ended up with and Rachel's voice mixes with mine really well. Plus I added the do wop breakdown which was the missing puzzle piece I think. I had to change a few lyrics from the old poem because they were a bit awkward to sing but I kept the feeling true to the original.
THE STUMP HOTEL
This song began it's little life as a song called "The Hotel Dumb" after a hotel that my niece stayed at in Europe someplace. She told me about the name and I wrote a song about this dysfunctional hotel. I found the old recording and suddenly an image of a rotten stump as the hotel popped into my head! It was the perfect way to reimaging the old song.
YES AND NO
Years ago there was a TV show about music in the Pacific Northwest called The Local Music Show. The host was John Richards (from KEXP) and he made each guest write a custom theme song at the end of the episode. Mine was based on the demonstration song on a Casio VL-tone keyboard. remember those? It was like a fancy calculator with instrument sounds. The song had him saying "no it's not" to my "yes it is" and after reworking the lyrics considerably I had John into the studio to be the NO voice again. The first verse is an homage to my favorite comedian, Mitch Hedberg. He used to say that an escalator can not be broken...it can only become stairs!
Originally a lullaby I felt like it would make a better rocker and did it in sort of a early 80s new wave style. You can sing this to your kids that don't want to get out of bed in the morning (or afternoon!) and see if it helps. I hope it does.
My daughter Josie came home from camp last year singing a song called "Farewell to Carlingford" and I loved the rowdy chantey drinking song quality to the tune. I looked it up and found it to be available for interpretation and turned it into a song about how parents have to eventually say goodbye to these kids. Of course I couched the message in lyrics about slugs and flies and snails for good measure but the idea is that you parents have to be ready for these little things to be independent. I love thinking about my kids out in the world standing on their own two feet!
TOO DIRTY TO LOVE
This one was a crazy odyssey! So Kate came in from gardening in the rain and sang "I'm too dirty to love!". Of course my song radar went nuts and I logged that melody she sang and the words into my brain. Later I was conversing with Steve Turner from the amazing Mudhoney and put out an invitation to collaborate on a song. He immediately replied with 3 music ideas one of which fit with Kate's proclamation as a verse. BAM! A song was born. Steve came over to the shack and we tracked it and later I got Rachel Flotard to sing on it since I always heard a female voice on it. This might be my favorite song on the album because of how it came together and the result of all that collaboration.
My mom took me to the symphony a lot when I was a little kid. That influence is still there in my music and in what I listen to at home. This song is a sort of homage to her influence. I incorporated two of my all time favorite pieces "Fossiles" by Camille St. Saens from the Carnival of the Animals and "In the Hall of the Mountain King by Edvard Grieg from the Peer Gynt Suite. Both of those pieces made me scared when I was a little guy so I decided to make a spooky song about a skeleton who plays his own bones like a xylophone. I hope it gives you some CHILLS!
ROW ROW ROW YOUR BOAT
Here is another one that I have tracked and released before but felt I could push the arrangement a little more. I added 3 new verses and made an unusual A - B - C arrangement. I was thinking of early rock and roll piano blues feelings when I tracked it. I hope it relaxes and grooves you!
CRICKET THE KING
This one was originally about a fashionable tarantula but it was about 15 years old and had never been released so I determined that it needed a redo. The story is about a love between a cricket king and a ladybug peasant and how they happen to meet one day and fall instantly in love. A classic fairy tale.
I had written a song for my grownup rock band way back in 1992 called "Fuzz" but it never made the cut. I only took the idea of a wandering piece of fuzz from the original song and changed all the music and came up with this story of an unlikely friendship between me and a sweet little lint ball. In the end I gotta set her free but we had a great time while it lasted!
I became aware of this song called "Get Along Home Cindy" and loved its simple little tune and message of longing. I played around with the melody and came up with this variation where I imagine a little baby as a hobo wandering about. I researched hobos and found an amazing amount of information about the difference between hobos and tramps and bums. Hobos travel from town to town doing the work that no one else wants to do and they are very careful not to overstay their welcome and leave the town in good standing so that the next hobo will be welcomed and given work. They had their own language (some of which I incorporated into the song) and code of ethics. Just imagine that little baby out in the wild making it's way through the land.
WOODS BEHIND MY HOME
this tune is based on an old traditional song about the gold rush of 1849 called "The Days of Forty Nine" that I discovered through the always amazing Spider John Koerner. The original is about all the people that the singer panned for gold with back in the days of the rush and how they all met their demise. I kept a bit of the spooky feel by making the song about a cast of abandoned junky things that are scattered in the back yard of my home (not me real home!). In the same way that the original song recounts all the long gone gold seekers my version recounts all the old things in the yard and how they got there.
IF I WAS A
I believe this cam about one day when I was having a conversation with Mindy from XM Radio's Kids Place Live. I was talking about songwriting with her and about how I might write a song about wishing to change shape. This little ting popped out after I hung up the phone but it was musically and lyrically different and took quite a while to work itself into this current shape. Maybe we all think that it would be great to be someone or something else but in the end the only way to be at peace its to accept who and what you are and enjoy it!
Another song that I have had for years and years but it was not a lullaby before but a kind of rocker. I realized that the music did not fit the feeling of the lyrics so I mellowed it out and tweaked the old lyrics to fit the lullaby mode a bit. I am very happy with the poetic lyrics in this song and the way it evokes the end of a fun day. Time to chill out and feel satisfied by a day well lived and see that sun going down and drift off to sleepytown...