When you absolutely, positively need some peace and quiet right now

Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast,
To soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.

–William Congreve

Fortunately, it also is strong enough to calm a toddler who is strapped into a car seat and escalating from fussing to pitching a fit. Recently, we’ve found that these tunes bring merciful calm most of the time, and when we play them at fussless times, they even bring smiles and clapping. Of course, given the fickle nature of toddlerhood, as soon as I’ve posted this, 3B will no longer stand listening to these songs at all. As always, your mileage may vary.

Blinded by the Light (Manfred Mann version)
The keyboard intro gets 3B’s attention and leads him into the song. All of the dramatic tempo, volume, and mood changes help keep him with the song for the 37 1/2 minutes it takes to finish. As 3B’s father, I’m glad to see a Springsteen tune on his favorites list. This led me to try hooking him on Like a Rolling Stone, with that awesome Hammond B3, but it didn’t take. Yet. We’ve still got time.

Black Tambourine
Much to Barky’s chagrin, and our delight, 3B appears to like Beck, especially the heavy bass line in this song. Fortunately, there’s not the high frequency feedback in this song that plagues Barky in other pieces by Beck, so there’s now at least one Beck song that we can all groove to (or tolerate, in Barky’s case) together.

Such Great Heights
Postal Service certainly wasn’t my first instinct for music that 3B would like, but then this song came up in shuffle as we were driving around and it occurred to me that the intro, with its boop boop sound and subsequent heavy bass sound, make for a near perfect song for 3B. Unlike with Like a Rolling Stone, I was right about this one. I now have it ready to roll when I pick up 3B from daycare, which gets me an ear-to-ear grin, a little chuckle or giggle, and applause. It doesn’t get better than that, does it?

These three certainly don’t smooth over all situations. There are times when we have to bring in the big guns–Sound of Da Police for diaper changes for example, and Forever Young (Dylan, natch) for getting 3B to sleep in the car–but having these three in our toddler taming toolbox has helped us get through some short drives that could have seemed much longer without such soothing distractions.

How about you, my six loyal readers, do your kids have any favorite tunes?

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  • I am not certain what my kids listen to. They both have iPods. It does keep things quiet. In the car, the driver gets to choose.

  • I make ’em listen to arias and art song … mostly whatever I’m listening to or singing.
    It’s their lot in life.

    In the car, for soothing, anything symphonic from the classical era …

    (wow – I’m not really a snob .. it’s just what I do.)

  • Amazingly, the boy was talking about blending two songs together today, at which point we realized he had without prompting developed the idea of a mashup.

    However, the two songs were “Elwood Decker” and “Rainbird” by The Bobs. Not exactly high on the cool scale.