From the Archives: “Songs to Grow on for Mother & Child”


When you consider folk music legend Woody Guthrie’s own less-than-ideal childhood – plagued with illness, tragic accidents and poverty that basically made him an orphan by age 14 – you have to wonder what his children’s album sounds like. Surprise! It’s not sullen. In true Guthrie form, “Songs to Grow on for Mother & Child” (Smithsonian Folkways, 1947) is very everyman (everyparent?). Plus, Guthrie had eight children of his own and could draw from a father’s perspective. The 18 largely playful tracks are remastered vintage recordings featuring Guthrie’s trademark Okie dialect and acoustic guitar – even rattles.

The record features silly (albeit memorable) songs like “Grassy Grass Grass (Grow Grow Grow)” and “Wash-y Wash Wash (Warshy Little Tootsy)” and teaching songs like “1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8” and “One Day Old” (certainly you’ve heard Laurie Berkner’s version). And then there are personal songs like “Goodnight Little Arlo (Goodnight Little Darlin’)” he wrote for his son (who is now a famous folk singer in his own right).

Guthrie advised parents to enjoy this album with their children. “Don’t just buy this record and take it home so your kids can listen to it while you go off and do something else,” he said.

That was sort of his philosophy in a nutshell: that music – “people songs” – is for everyone of every age.

(Also check out “Nursery Days.”)


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