Songs to Grow On for Mother and Child is Woody Guthrie's love note to his baby son, Arlo. Recorded in 1947 and released in 1956, Songs is simply Guthrie singing, chanting, strumming guitar, tapping a simple rhythm...a sort of aural keepsake of Woody and Arlo's dad/son playtime/bedtime ritual.
Songs to Grow On for Mother and Child is about as intimate and low-key as you can get for a kids' music album, with only Guthrie and his six-string, an occasional harmonica, and sometimes a simple knee slap or rhythm on the back of his acoustic guitar.
The remarkable thing is that, despite such humble studio circumstances, several of the tunes on Songs have been recorded by many kids' musicians, including "Grassy Grass Grass (Grow, Grow, Grow)" and "Who's My Pretty Baby (Hey Pretty Baby)," covered by Elizabeth Mitchell; "Little Sugar (Little Saka Sugar)," covered by Brady Rymer; and "Bling Blang," covered by Dog On Fleas.
There are almost 20 songs on the album, so you have lots to choose from: rhythm workouts like "Rattle My Rattle" and "Wash-y Wash Wash (Warshy Little Tootsy);" number and letter tunes like "One Day Old," "1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8," and "I'll Write and I'll Draw;" and baby-centric songs like "Swimmy Swim" and "I Want My Milk (I Want It Now)."
Highlights of Songs to Grow On for Mother and Child include the wonderful imagery of "I'll Eat You, I'll Drink You," the existential question/answer tune "Why, Oh Why," the folk pop of "Who's My Pretty Baby" and "Bling Blang," and the heart-hugging lullaby "Goodnight Little Arlo (Goodnight Little Darlin')."
Guthrie has so much fun with words and rhythms on Songs to Grow On for Mother and Child, it's hard not to get caught up in the sheer joy of his performances. The memorable lyrics and melodies make the songs easy to learn for child and adult alike. A treasure for any home, classroom, or programming collection.
Originally released 1956, Folkways Records; Rereleased 1991, Smithsonian Folkways