Offbeat Mama Kid's Mix Vol 1: songs for and about the road

Photo by Stephanie Kaloi.

Since pregnancy, and possibly even before, I've been determined that my child wouldn't listen to those CDs of kids singing covers of pop songs in kid voices. There's nothing inherently WRONG with those CDs, but I have zero interest, possibly even less than zero interest, in ever playing one in my home or my car. While I was pregnant and putting together my never-used labor and birth playlist, I wondered if it'd be easy to get my son to like whatever we like — and now that I have a three-year-old, I have learned that it is. I know this won't last forever (and god only knows what the 2020s hold for his teenage-hood), but for now? TOTALLY WORKS.

So here's my first mix, filled with songs my son and both his parents are totally into. The guidelines I put into place when considering it are pretty simple:

  • Songs can be loud, but not offensive. Since everyone has different ideas about cussing around kidlets, I wanted to keep it mostly clean. Notice: I said MOSTLY.
  • Everything's upbeat. JUST BECAUSE.
  • I thought it would be extra fun to THEME the mixes, so my first one is "songs for and about the road" — basically, songs about cars, road trips, and places to stay. It was also totally inspired by my son's current obsession with cars and trucks. And before you ask, Little Red Corvette isn't on here… even though I really, really wanted it to be.

Without further ado… here's my mix!

  1. The Beatles – Drive My Car (iTunes)
  2. Kings of Leon – Camaro (Amazon)
  3. Elvis Presley – Heartbreak Hotel (Amazon)
  4. The Beach Boys – 409 (Amazon)
  5. Fountains of Wayne – 92 Subaru (Amazon)
  6. The Black Keys – Little Black Submarines (Amazon)
  7. The Ramones – Go Lil Camaro, Go (album: Halfway To Sanity)
  8. The Who – Jaguar (on Who Sell Out)
  9. Wilson Pickett – Mustang Sally (Amazon)
  10. Chuck Berry – No Particular Place to Go (Amazon)
  11. The Doobie Brothers – Rockin Down the Highway (Amazon)
  12. Erykah Badu – Window Seat (Amazon)
  13. The Beatles – Day Tripper (iTunes)
  14. Ray Charles – Hit the Road, Jack (Amazon)
  15. The Clash – Brand New Cadillac (Amazon)
  16. Creedence Clearwater Revival – Sweet Hitch-hiker (Amazon)
  17. Grateful Dead – Truckin (Amazon)
  18. Jimi Hendrix – Crosstown Traffic (Amazon)
  19. The Wallflowers – One Headlight (Amazon)
  20. Talking Heads – Road to Nowhere (Amazon)

I'd love to see what mixes YOU guys can come up with! If you have a good one (and pretty much anything is good), send me a list of songs and your theme and we'll make this a THANG.

  1. Oh it must be the weather, I JUST made a playlist for the car. My listeners are 3 five yr olds and a 2.5 yr old
    The Fa fa song -otis
    Baby's got sauce -g love
    Barton holler -civil wars
    Daddy O -from raising hope
    Dancing queen -abba
    Perfect -pink (clean version)
    Hands to yourself -ga satellites
    Jack and Diane -mellencamp (I have a jack)
    little birth pretty one -Bobby day
    Rumor has it -adele
    Stranglehold -nugent
    Mean -Taylor swift (not my style but the girls love it)
    Hooked on a feeling -blue suede
    Down -springsteen

    1 agrees
  2. My parents never had travel mix tapes. They always just put in the The Traveling Wilburys Vol.1, and my sisters and I would sing "Tweeter and the Monkey Man" as loud as possible in the back seat…and everywhere else. At least back in the late 80s and early 90s people knew when we were singing the line, "…smoking cocaine and hash" in the grocery store, our parents just really loved the Traveling Wilburys.

    I plan to not have a mix, and do what my parents did: play music I enjoy, and let them enjoy it too. I'll just hook my iPod up to the radio and hit shuffle.

    • Our family album was "Precious Friend", with Arlo Guthrie and Pete Seeger. Any easy to sing folk songs are a winner in my book, bonus if a family member can occasionally strum along on an instrument.

  3. Elvis Presley and the Beattles are grat choices for kids, especially if english is a second language: I learned to speak english with them 😛

    1 agrees
  4. OH MY I cannot tolerate any CD that is children singing badly! I hate the fact that music for kids is always kind of bad, out of tune, cheesy orchestration. Shouldn't we be exposing kids to great music – like the selections on your list! When I found out I was pregnant I created "Ecletic Twin Mix" (I have twins). It has grown to 171!! songs!! Yes, that's right 171. I play at least some of it everyday. It has rock, folk, jazz, classical, everything you could think of, including some of the artists on your mix. Keep on protecting your kids ears from crappy kids music!

    2 agree
  5. Aww, some of my greatest memories are singing in the car with my parents. Classics of course. I hope to do the same with my little one. I do remember the convo with my mom about cursing in songs, as long as you were singing it was ok haha. That was Tom Petty though, way before the junk we have now…

    1 agrees
  6. I don't have kids yet, but I do really like when awesome artists put out kids' albums. Sometimes the songs are still cutesy or silly, but they are sung and played by awesome and talented musicians. My favorites are Kimya Dawson's album Alphabutt (http://www.amazon.com/Alphabutt-Kimya-Dawson/dp/B001CTUI5A) and also the Earthwork Music 4 Kids album, a compilation by several amazing artists on the Earthwork label. (http://earthworkmusic.com/site/viewItem?i=64). Even without kids, I definitely listen to these in my car…haha

  7. I follow the same advice as someone else above me said: Play the music I like and get the kids exposed to it, hopefully hooked on it.

    Songs my kids will request to hear in the car:
    "Old Man On the Back Porch" by Presidents of the United States of America (or Peaches, Lump, etc.)
    "Raise Your Glass" by Pink
    "Secrets" by OneRepublic
    "Boom Boom Pow" by Black Eyed Peas
    "Sail" by AWOLNATION
    "Supersonic" by J.J. Fad
    "We Are Young" by F.U.N.
    "Yellow Submarine" by The Beatles (really anything by The Beatles)

    I could go on and on…

    1 agrees
    • I love presidents of the united states. And have enjoyed singing it when I was younger. I now play them for my son.

  8. Songs my kiddo always requests when we're driving:
    "Short Skirt, Long Jacket"- Cake
    "Spiderman Theme Song"- The Ramones version
    "Is There A Ghost"- Band of Horses
    "Charmer"- Kings of Leon (he refers to this as the screaming song)
    "Chop and Change"- The Black Keys
    "Lisztomania"- Phoenix
    "Wake Up"- Arcade Fire
    "If I Had A Million Dollars"- Barenaked Ladies
    … and if we're driving for a long time and he wants to have a nap, then Iron & Wine or William Fitzsimmons.

  9. We're expecting our first little one this summer and we're both music lovers… BUT soo much of the music we love isn't really kid friendly… Honestly, I personally dislike MOST of the music listed thus far…
    Any suggestions?

  10. I come from a Motown family so anything by the temptations and the 4tops were the most frequented tapes for road trip sing-a-longs. With the Beatles, CCR, and other oldies thrown in too (Leader of the Pack (The Shangri-Las)was a favorite and goes with the current theme even though it's sad)

  11. OH man, I remember when I went on a road trip with my dad when I was really little. We drove to Maine and we listened to The Grateful Dead the whole way there and back. I totally listened to my parents' music exclusively. The Grateful Dead, Albert Collins (the ice man!), Buckwheat Zydeco, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Eric Clapton, and so on.

    This also reminds me that when my cousin's son was a baby/toddler she was driving an old car and her cassette player went nuts and wouldn't eject the tape, it wouldn't even stop. It just kept playing, all she could control was the volume. So she had a very little boy who knew EVERY WORD to a plethora of songs by The Cure and The Color Field. A-frickin-dorable.

  12. Personally, I think the key is finding good kids music in addition to appropriate grown-up music. They Might Be Giants has a children's album, and I grew up on Raffi, so I plan to find those old recordings and revisit my youth when my kiddo is older.

  13. I have a playlist on my iPod, for when my boyfriend's son wants a little jam time. Some of the Little Dude's favorites…

    Waka Waka (This Time for Africa) – Shakira
    Three Little Birds – Bob Marley
    Sugar Pie Honey Bunch (Can't Help Myself) – The Four Tops
    I Like to Move It – Reel 2 Real (and the Magagascar cover)
    Stuck in the Middle With You – Stealers Wheel
    Blitzkrieg Bop – The Ramones
    What A Wonderful World – Joey Ramone

    We're fans of oldies and "get up & move" music. *;) At least, when there are little ones around…

    He's also a huge fan of the whole "Playing For Change" album, especially Stand By Me and Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay. I definitely recommend that album for anyone who wants fun sing-alongs in the car.

    1 agrees
  14. What, no "Eastbound and Down" on your playlist? My husband was a big fan of Smokey and the Bandit when he was a kid, and loves that song to start out road trips.

    We listen to such a huge range of music that I don't worry about playlists for my son. Also, I currently have an addiction to "radio performance shows" like Prairie Home Companion or radio theater-type stuff, so more often than not we will listen to that instead of music in the car.

  15. A Day to Remember
    Iwrestledabearonce
    For Today
    As I Lay Dying
    Bayside
    Silverstein
    August Burns Red
    The Devil Wears Prada
    Chelsea Grin
    Emery

    Etc etc

    Now that I think about it most of those would at least have a few songs…
    We'll just have to do a lyric check lol

    • My sister-in-law actually named her daughter Emery; it was one of the bands she and her now husband were obsessed with when they first started dating.

      • That was actually our pick for a boy name… if we ever have a boy he'll be Emery Douglas… I do like the name for either but we decided on Kinley Jade for our little girl… She'll be here in July! 🙂

  16. This is awesome! We listen to a lot of Dolly Parton around here, "oldies" like the Supremes and other girl groups, Guns N Roses (not the most kid-friendly lyrics but Welcome to the Jungle gets my 3 year old to rock out every time), and the Indigo Girls, among many others. I CANNOT stand those kid songs mixes. And my son doesn't like them either thank goodness.

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