With the arrival of our third granddaughter on Friday, my wife and I are left to ponder what lies ahead in our near-term music-listening future – just in time for the Grammys.
Lisa Loeb is nominated for the Best Children’s Album category this year for her late-2016 release Feel What U Feel. This is the second Grammy nomination for the eyewear icon following her unsuccessful bid for the Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal award in 1995 for the Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 hit “Stay”.
Loeb shared with Billboard that she credits her commercial success in the family music market to teaming up with Amazon Music.
Loeb’s shift to children’s music in 2003 follows in the footsteps of several other Grammy nominees (children’s albums were added as a category in 1994). Popular artists who have crossed over to win the category include Linda Ronstadt in 1997, John Denver in 1998, They Might Be Giants in 2009, and Ziggy Marley in 2010.
Notable Grammy nominees that have also released children’s albums include adult alternative faves Jack Johnson and Bare Naked Ladies (though, one might cheekily contend that BNL did not crossover to children’s music as much as return to it, given their early and prolonged success with the endearing “If I Had A $1000000”).
But one of the most influential recording artists to have plied the children’s scene is much less widely known – Jonathan Richman.
Richman’s seminal band of the early 1970s, The Modern Lovers – featuring keyboardist Jerry Harrison (later of The Talking Heads) and drummer David Robinson (later of The Cars), is often credited with recording the first punk song (“Roadrunner”) years before the genre existed. Ironically, studio vinyl of The Modern Lovers was released in the midst of the band’s early demise as Jonathan set off to pursue a gentler sound.
But the raw, sometimes cringe-worthy, vulnerability that makes Richman such an appealing singer-songwriter to his fans shines through whether fronting a garage band as a twenty-something (“I’m Straight”) or weaving lessons for children and their parents (“I’m Nature’s Mosquito”) decades later.
And that is why my money is on Lisa Loeb to grab tonight’s award. Like Richman, Loeb’s underlying spark – her enduring phrasing and musicality – that brought mass market acclaim in the 1990s comes through on her current work. How could it not?
But don’t take my word for it – see for yourself.
As for Raffi, his first Grammy nomination awaits.
[Jonathan Richman plays Union Transfer on Sunday, 2/25. Tickets are $17.50 a pop.]