Songs About Poop That’ll Make You Cry

A deep dive into Kimya Dawson’s 2007 kids’ album, Alphabutt

 

Hello! I’ve been burning the candle at like, twelve ends lately. Which is extra bad because candles actually only have two of those. Like, I’ve been literally working to the point of making myself sick, and so I’m behind on things. And on of the things I’m behind on is this blog. And I’m sorry. You’re all wonderful, and this is some of my favorite writing to do in the world and this is mostly where I want to hang out all the time. As the Unicorn awkwardly says to a sweaty, swearing, Molly Grue in The Last Unicorn, I’m here now.

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So let’s talk about kid’ music!

We mostly don’t listen to kids’ music in our house? I mean, children’s stuff can be ok, even good, but it tends to get grating after awhile. And we mostly feel like really young kids, just like anyone else, like the music they’re exposed to. So rather than starting our baby out with a bunch of kiddie tunes, we play him stuff that we like, and if he’s into it we’re into that, and if he’s not we turn it off. It’s a win-win, really. My kid gets to rock out to Kanye, and I never have to listen to The Wheels On The Bus.

Except, we do have this one kids’ album. And he freaking loves it. And sometimes we freaking love it. So we listen to it almost every day (and that’s why we only sometimes freaking love it). So today, for your reading pleasure, I’m going to go through Alphabutt song by song, and talk about all of my feelings. Buckle up!

 

Track One: Little Monster Babies

The album starts out strong, energetic, and fun. I’m not sure if my 11 month old loves this song specifically, or just loves the fact that I put on music for him. I think he likes that it features kid noises, baby noises, and sounds that sound an awful lot like blocks tumbling down. Either way, it’s totally danceable, and he’s recently learned some baby dance moves. Babies learning how to dance has always been one of my favorite things on the planet, and my own child is no exception to that. It’s a cute song, and it’s definitely a “he’s happy, I’m happy” kind of moment for me.

Track Two: Alphabutt

This song is about 90% about butts, farts, and poop. I am a full grown adult, and I laughed out lout the first time I heard it. It strikes me as basically perfect kid humor, and I can’t imagine a kid not liking it. Now, of course, my child doesn’t yet know what things like “doo-doo” and “loud and long farts” are yet, but he’s still a huge fan. He does his funny little head bob and it’s the best thing ever. I get mildly annoyed when she says “I is for eyeball” but I figure odds are my baby will still learn to read just fine.

Track Three: Bobby-O

Ok, here is where me and the child begin to have a difference of opinion. I just cannot get into this song. I can’t. I’ve tried. The rest of the album is so good, I feel annoyed with myself for being annoyed, but I am annoyed so there it is. I don’t like that his horse is named “Rambo” and I’m not into him wearing a sombrero and I really really don’t like  the somewhat mysterious use of the word “naughty.” Here:

He did something naughty
What it was we’ll never know,
But the hotel owner said
Man you gotta go.
Take your bathing suit
And don’t forget Rambo!
Oooooooh
Bobby-O!

Maybe it’s just that I don’t like the word “naught” in the first place? Maybe it’s something to do with the whole idea of secrets and shame and my desire to tell kids the truth? Either way, when you listen to an album one million time, the little things that you’re not nuts about really start to get under your skin. This is happening for me on this song.

So I used to just skip it… but… BUT…

I can’t anymore. The child absolutely loves it. It is, undeniably, his jam. He can’t stand on his own yet, but he will hold himself up on a chair, throw one hand up to the heaves, and just rock out.

Oooooooh
Bobby-O!

Track Four: Louie

Kimya Dawson has a daughter named Panda, and according to this song, Panda’s favorite doggie is named Louie. This song has literally everything that you could possibly want out of a song about a kid and her dog, and if you are going to question why the human child has a less traditional name than the dog, you can leave my house right now.

Track Five: Smoothie

Ok folks, you might not expect that this would be where the water works start, but it is. Let me explain.
In this song, a Mama (presumably Kimya herself) is asking a Papa to make her a smoothie, because she’s pregnant and the baby isn’t moving very much, and drinking a smoothie will get the fetus to move! It’s really cute, and she describes the various things a fetus might do after the gestating person consumes a smoothie using some really great language like “and then the head and butt start rolling like two balls bowling perfect games on the lanes inside of me.” Every time I hear this song, I want to sing along. And I start to, and then my voice catches, and I start sobbing. About smoothies.

I don’t know many people who were looking forward to being pregnant as much as I was. And I waited a relatively long time, I was 29 when my son was born, which is not OLD but did mean that I’d been daydreaming about being a mom for a decade already. I have always been fascinated by pregnancy and birth, and was really excited about those things being part of my life. And then, pregnancy and birth utterly and completely destroyed me.

I was sick for basically my entire pregnancy, I was miserable and incapable of doing things that I enjoyed, and I wanted to die.

And I drank smoothies, and my partner made them for me. But there was no joy in it. there was just wishing and hoping that this time I wouldn’t hurl immediately. There was drinking slowly and sitting next to a metal bowl JUST IN CASE and reminding myself that me and the fetus desperately need nutrition. I loathed being pregnant more than I could have possibly imagined.

Yet, stupidly, some days I still want to do it again.

But I’m probably not going to.

And so, I can’t hear a song like this one without feeling all of that heaviness. It just sounds like all of the joy and magic that I desperately wanted, that I didn’t get, and that I never will get. So I try to sing along.

Blub blub blub like a fart in a tub
like a fart in a tub inside of me!

And I cry and I cry and I cry.

Track Six: I Like Bears

Oh man! The first time I heard this song, it was when my wife and I were just dating. Kimye Dawson was playing a show at the contemporary art museum here, and that seemed like an excellent date idea. There was, for whatever reason, also a weird light show type thing going on that gave me a splitting heading. But Kimya was awesome, and we ran into a bunch of friends, and it was a pretty good time despite the headache.

Before playing this song she just said, “this is a song about big, hairy, gay men!”

And we all laughed. And I don’t think people stopped laughing the entire time. And it was great.

This track gets bonus points because my kid loves it, too.

Track Seven: Seven Hungry Tigers

Good times had all around.

Track Eight: Happy Home (Keep On Writing)

Oh my god. Hang on, sit tight, I want to find you all the lyrics for this one. Or maybe you should go watch it on youtube immediately.

There was a time in my life that I felt so all alone
That I never thought that someday I would have a happy home
A family and a four track radio shack microphone
A backyard and a hammock and a paid off student load
A backyard and a hammock and a paid off student load

So if you see me and I’m dreaming
About selling socks on ebay
Shake me hard till I’m awake
Stitches will unravel, the stitches will unravel
The stitches will unravel if you knit with fishing line
Though your cast will be refined
You’d be better off with twine

When I was a kid we would play Annie at recess
I was always Sandy because I was the smallest
From all that crawling on the blacktop
There were holes in all my jeans,
In the toes of my bowed shoes but I never complained
Because I didn’t think that I could sing
See I never perfected that nasally thing
All the kids sang in the school play
Now I know it’s better if we don’t all sound the same
Now I know it’s better if we don’t all sound the same

So if you hear me and I’m screaming
About auditions for Annie
I hope you will try out with me
There are parts for everybody
And you don’t need to be the dog unless you like being the doggy

He’s up against a team that he has never seen before
And they march into the outfield like they’re marching off to war
It’s a good one out to right field but they’re quick and make the play
And as the curtain closes he just bows and walks away
Singing, “If you’re breathing you are living
If you’re living you are learning
So write and write and keep on writing
Just make sure your life’s exciting”

So if you see me and I’ve joined the roller derby
Know that I’ve become something I always wanted to be
Fast and strong and part of a team

Teacher, thanks for everything
You said “If you’re breathing you are living
If you’re living you are learning
So write and write and keep on writing
Just make sure your life’s exciting
Write and write and keep on writing
Just make sure your life’s exciting
Write and write and keep on writing
Just make sure your life’s exciting
Just make sure your life’s exciting
Just make sure your life’s exciting

I have helpfully bolded the lines on which my voice start to crack and I have to fight not to start sobbing. Obviously, by the end of the song, I am basically reduced to a puddle. Honestly, this song is probably one of the things that helped carry me through my horrible postpartum depression and PTSD. My life is not the same as this, not by a long shot, but it’s a helpful reminder all the same. “If you’re breathing you are living” is such a huge, yet simple, thing to say. And it’s so important. And we don’t remind each other of that nearly enough. So I play with my kid and I write furiously and I try to keep my head up through all the crap in life and I cry like a baby to this song.

The baby is still little enough to think adults crying is funny. It’s awkward.

Track Nine: Wiggle My Tooth

So you are catching your breath from all that crying, and now Kimya is going to remind you that this song is for KIDS. Here is a song about a loose tooth. We like the kid who shouts “go!” on the track because that’s really fun. Since I had a real bad wisdom tooth situation a couple of weeks ago, sometimes this song makes my skin crawl a little bit, but it’s not the song’s fault. Teeth are fine, really.

Track Ten: I Love You Sweet Baby

Parent friends had warned me that this song was a cryer. It doesn’t disappoint. It’s basically a song that goes through an average day with a baby/toddler, and I have to say that as a mostly-at-home parent, there is something about spelling out the monotony in a joyous way that is just lovely. I’m not sure if it would be as relatable to parents who aren’t some kind of hippie-ish and attachment-ish type parents, she talks about nursing and co-sleeping and avocados, but for me it hits very close to home. It also feels very specific. This is not a song that is trying to zoom out and talk about the general experience of having a young child. This is a song about loving your baby, your very specific baby. It’s personal. I don’t know what was going through her head when she wrote this, but it sounds like the kind of thing a parent would write to get them through it and remind them that it is fucking magical.

It is fucking magical.

When you wake up we have more plans
say good morning baby and kiss your hands.
Then your gonna make a pee
in your little green potty.

Congratulations, you are now sobbing your eyes out and clutching your child to a song with the words “make a pee” in it. Welcome to the club. It’s a good club, we understand you here. Honestly? I’m not even listening to it and my eyes are misting a bit.

Track Eleven: Pee-Pee In The Potty

My wife finds this song slightly grating, either because of the sing-song nature of it or the bodily function content (maybe both!). I freaking love this song and I don’t know why. Maybe I think that if I play it enough my child will be inspired to learn to use the potty all on his own or something?

Track Twelve: Uncle Hukee’s House

So until writing this and actually looking at the track list, I thought this song was “Uncle Yuki’s House.” I still love it, but man was I delighted by the idea of Panda having an uncle named Yuki. Oh well. It’s a song about visiting friends and relatives and how much fun it is. I especially love the part where two animals (I think they are cats) get scared and run when the baby/kid comes over.

Track Thirteen: We’re All Animals

This song totally floors me in how effortlessly it blends different topics together. Is it a song that’s kind of explaining puberty to kids? Yup. Is it a silly song listing different kinds of animals? Sure is! Is it a song that teaches that human beings are just one of many different kinds of animals? Yes ma’am! I like the message that we’re all animals, and there’s nothing wrong with being an animal. My baby likes the kids making funny animals sounds.

I have one tiny quibble, and that’s the use of the word “natural” in reference to body hair. I like body hair! I like it a lot! I do not, however, find natural to be a very helpful or accurate word when talking about much of anything, including the removal (or lack of removal) of body hair. Honestly, this rant is really a totally separate post, so I’m going to leave it at that for today. WordPress says we’re already at 2,594 words and we’ve got more songs to talk about still.

Track Fourteen: Little Panda Bear

A sweet song that is easy to sing along to, me the kid both love this one. Sometimes I find myself singing it to him to cheer him up at random points throughout the day, and he seems like, impressed, that I can do it without the CD on. Yes I am your amazing mama I can do anything! It’s obviously a little song that Kimya wrote for her daughter, and that makes it even sweeter. In my family, the kid’s favorite stuffed animal is a panda, so it feels related.

Track Fifteen: Sunbeams and Some Beans

You probably knew that we were going to end with more crying. Maybe you didn’t anticipate that you’d be teaching your child about the importance of farming and the harsh realities of the world and how capitalism is evil. Now you know!

See there’s a surplus of food in this country
and nobody should ever go to sleep hungry.
But that food is kept under lock and key
considered a privilege for people with money.

We know a lot of urban farmers, and this song feels important to me. The people who feed us matter. Hunger matters. Teaching children about these things matter. I want to be honest with my kid about everything that is wrong and sad about the world, but also that we can do good things if we try. We can feed each other. We can keep each other warm. Caring for people is a virtue. So me and the baby slow dance around our tiny living room, and I sing along as best as I can, and sometimes I cry just a little. But it’s a different cry. It’s a brave, fierce, cry. It’s the cry of a mother determined to do her damn best, and to inspire her child to do his damn best.

We are making each other stronger.

Thanks, Kimya, is what I’m trying to say.

943958_10205385347381050_6658599649573850110_nThis is so much more than just a children’s album. It’s so much more than a folk album. It’s shaping the kind of parent I am and helping me to reflect on and refine my values. It’s delighting my baby and bringing us closer together because it’s something we can both love, rather than something I just have to “get through” for him. And yeah, it’s talking pretty unabashedly about poop. Poop, it turns out, is hilarious, and it’s a big part of parenting.

 

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