Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Chickens in Love: Bawk Bawk

The combo of pop musicians and children's entertainment is nothing new. Sesame Street has hosted everyone from Johnny Cash to Justin Timberlake. The 1980 record (and FP childhood favorite) In Harmony featured James Taylor, Carly Simon, and the Doobie Brothers. Thanks, hippie parents. The anthology For Our Children had Paul McCartney, Sting, and Bob Dylan's version of This Old Man. And in the 90s, indie rockers like Blind Melon and Pavement recorded Schoolhouse Rocks Rocks!, new versions of hits from the classic television show.

The latest in the genre is Chickens in Love, written by kids in Los Angeles in workshops with John Dragonetti and Blake Hazard of The Submarines and recorded by indie musicians, including Fiona Apple, Cold War Kids, and She and Him. The album is "coming soon," but for now you can listen to all 12 songs on 826 LA's Chickens In Love Facebook Page.

826 Los Angeles is a branch of 826 National, author Dave Eggers' network of tutoring centers and writing workshops for kids ages 6-18. The original 826 Valencia opened in San Francisco in 2002; the organization now has chapters in 8 cities, including Brooklyn, Chicago, and Seattle.

The songs on Chickens in Love drip with irreverence and exuberance. The title track, performed by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, has the chorus: “Chickens in Love/Bawk Bawk.” The bleepy tune “Am I Going Crazy” by Tim and Eric begins: “I think I saw the ghost of Michael Jackson/He was reading a book and eating fruit." Our favorite track, “So Sleepy” starts as a lullaby with Fiona Apple's growl and Chris Thile's mandolin. Then the Punch Brothers and Jon Brion enter and the song becomes a rowdy call to staying up all night.

More broadly, the album testifies to the continuing influence and work ethic of Dave Eggers. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (2000), his memoir of raising his brother after his parents' death, spawned a decade of literary autobiography and anticipated the explosion of blogging culture. His satirical magazine McSweeney’s has more hipster imitators than we can count. And recently, Eggers has gone Hollywood, co-writing the screenplays for Where the Wild Things Are and Away We Go. Meanwhile, the guy has a social conscience. Besides the 826 tutoring centers, his novel What is The What (2007) tells the story of a Sudanese boy and his journey to America; Zeitoun (2009) follows a Syrian-American father in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

If there's a theme to the Eggers empire, it's a fascination with the energy, creativity, and resilience of youth. A former wunderkind now in his 40s, Eggers seems to want to pass the torch to the next generation of writers, musicians, and artists.


No comments:

Post a Comment