Even when you're not paying attention to it, history is always happening. Today's lunch selection may not seem important, but in the grand scheme of things, years from now, it could be talked about in reverent, hushed tones.
Lloyd H. Miller is constantly looking over his shoulder to see what lessons we can learn from the past. He then pays it forward, bringing back songs from yesteryear for new generations. His latest, SING ALONG HISTORY VOLUME 1: GLORY! GLORY! HALLELUJAH! is pretty self-explanatory. How many children's music CDs come with their own colon and secondary title?
While the primary purpose of the CD is to introduce concepts of the Civil War, there's a jaunty, pre-war celebratory feel to many of the songs. That was intentional for the times, when both sides (North and South) were looking to keep spirits high amidst bloodshed and slavery. "Marching Through Georgia" is practically a dance number, yet it's about Sherman's March to the sea. "Tenting On The Old Campground" plaintively mixes the horrors of the war ("many are dead and gone") with the childhood thrill of sleeping outside under the stars.
We seemed to keep missing Lloyd (although we met him last year at KindieComm) in concert, solo or with the Deedle Deedle Dees. We did manage to catch a Symphony Space launch for his last CD, the similarly history-centric S.S. Brooklyn. But Lloyd has taken his mission one step further. "I love songs from the Civil War era," he comments. "I tried to give them the live, exciting feel of the old-timey jazz and rock-n-roll I play at shows today." Well, except for a spoken-word version of Abraham Lincoln's "The Gettysburg Address," recited by kids and adults alike.
The one modern touch is the bluesy "Keep The Hate Mail Comin'," a peon to the electronic age, wherein people feel free to rain invective on their perceived enemies, consequences or common decency be damned. As Lloyd rebukes:
Keep the hate mail coming
'Cause I love what I do.
I must have done something right
To get a letter like this from you.
Mr. Miller is certainly doing something right with his inspired selection from the archives of Americana. Aided by ace producer Dean Jones, Lloyd effortlessly goes back to the future and returns with a cavalcade of refurbished new favorites. GLORY! is the first in a planned series of releases for kids. Lloyd has fired the first shot – now it's up to audiences to return fire.
SING ALONG HISTORY VOLUME 1: GLORY! GLORY! HALLELUJAH! is available from CDBABY, Amazon, and iTunes.
Here is the video for the song, "Brooklyn By Bike":