07/16/03
Elvis for Babies
    by John Cech

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You're hearing a little from one of Elvis Presley's monumental hits, "Don't Be Cruel," on a CD for very young children called "Elvis for Babies." "Don't Be Cruel" and "Hound Dog" were recorded in July of 1956, and they've been a part of the collective listening consciousness of this country for most of the last four decades. So much so that they have become, in many ways, like nursery rhymes -- those anonymous songs and poems that are so familiar that they are absorbed into a culture's oral traditions -- so much so that whoever may have first written or sung them becomes increasingly irrelevant -- even if it was "The King." The songs quite simply (despite the protection of copyright laws) belong to all of us.

Thus, strange as it may seem at first, a collection of Elvis music for infants is absolutely appropriate. It seems to me that a lot of parents, stuck with finding a song that will calm a cranky infant, having worn out every cradle melody from"Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" to "Rock a Bye Baby" might well find comfort in some good old-fashioned Rock-a-Billy tune, like "That's Alright, Mama":

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And I think the babies will like it as well -- though it may seem a little processed and schmaltzy to our ears. The creators of this CD and the eleven others in the series, the Happy Baby collection, claim that the sound of the music box " is .... most suitable for babies' delicate ears." Who would want to argue with that -- gentle, soothing music for infants. And they get Elvis, too. In fact, if you think about it, there aren't many better modern lullabyes than "Love Me Tender":

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Copyright 2003 John Cech

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"Recess!" is a co-production of the University of Florida's Center for Children's Literature and Culture and WUFT-FM, "Classic 89."