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Bigger Than Yourself
     

Bigger Than Yourself

by John McCutcheon
 
Here's a relative rarity in the children's music world: a good-for-you album that tastes good, too. The field is crowded with many a well-meaning singer-with-a-mission, bent on drumming eco-awareness, self-esteem, and good manners into impressionable little minds, but the records themselves are frequently tedious. Not this one, though: Folk artist John McCutcheon, who

Overview

Here's a relative rarity in the children's music world: a good-for-you album that tastes good, too. The field is crowded with many a well-meaning singer-with-a-mission, bent on drumming eco-awareness, self-esteem, and good manners into impressionable little minds, but the records themselves are frequently tedious. Not this one, though: Folk artist John McCutcheon, who composed BIGGER THAN YOURSELF with fellow folkie/activist Si Kahn, entertains kids rather than hectoring them, as he extols the virtues of working together for the common good. McCutcheon's nutritious-and-delicious approach is embodied in leadoff cut, "I Got a Dime," a bluesy, slide-guitar-accented tune. It effectively illustrates how getting classmates to pool their spare change to buy ice cream works on the same principle as persuading communities to collaborate on building homes and playgrounds. Stressing compassion as well as can-do industriousness, McCutcheon offers kids real-life, reasonable suggestions for how they can make the world a better place.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Richard Foss
The opening notes of "I Got a Dime," the first song on Bigger Than Yourself, are enough to make you wonder if the right CD was in the jewel box. This is supposed to be a kids' album, but the guitars have a bluesy crunch and the vocals are gruff and soulful. Listen for a minute and it becomes clear -- the song is a wonderful metaphor for pooling both money and talent to make the world better. Kids like it and adults are likely to play it even when the young ones aren't around. The second song, "The Principle," carries the theme forward in a more traditional style, with music reminiscent of a '30s musical. Bigger Than Yourself is aptly named -- most of the songs are about collective action and compromise, about relationships and society rather than individual feelings. McCutcheon's unabashedly leftist sentiments are delivered with sufficient subtlety and style most of the time, though he does get preachy on a few cuts. If children try the tactics suggested in "Kids on Strike," they may find that unionism has its limits when practiced by preteens, and some parents may find the allusion to child molestation on "Safe at Home" disturbing. About half of the songs here are explicitly political, and some will see this album as a manifesto designed to raise happy little socialists. Libertarian and conservative parents will have a problem with that, even though all the material is artfully expressed, well arranged, and winsomely sung. There are some songs here that could even win doubters over, such as "Play Fair" and "Friends Don't Let Friends," both of which call for children to develop an individual ethical sense. The title cut is the most poetic and beautiful on the album and the least explicitly political, as well as the best. On Bigger Than Yourself, John McCutcheon set out his ideas on society with passion and clarity, and if you agree with those ideas and want to expose a young audience to them then you will want this album.

Product Details

Release Date:
08/05/1997
Label:
Rounder Select
UPC:
0011661804425
catalogNumber:
8044

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

John McCutcheon   Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Banjo,Percussion,Piano,Autoharp,Electric Guitar,Hammered Dulcimer
Cheryl Wheeler   Vocal Harmony
John D'earth   Trumpet
Michael Aharon   Organ,Synthesizer,Piano
John Dawson   Saxophone
Doug Elliott   Trombone
Robert Jospé   Drums
Pete Kennedy   Acoustic Guitar,Banjo,Mandolin,Electric Guitar
Peter McCutcheon   Percussion
Tim O'Brien   Fiddle,Mandolin
Kevin Davis   Percussion
Andy Kochenour   Tuba
Bobby Read   Clarinet,Flute,Piccolo,Saxophone
Jon Carroll   Accordion,Vocal Harmony
Maura Kennedy   Vocal Harmony
Bob Dawson   Bass,Percussion,Electric Guitar

Technical Credits

John McCutcheon   Producer
Bob Dawson   Producer,Engineer

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