Music Review: Timeless Tunes For Families
• Farkle & Friends, John Lithgow, Kid Rhino; $13.98 CD, $9.98 cassette; 310-441-6618;

John Lithgow has been nominated for an Academy Award, won four Emmy Awards, one Golden Globe Award, an American Comedy Award, two Screen Actors Guild Awards and a Tony Award – so what’s he doing making a kid’s album? Well, it sounds like he’s having a blast! Farkle & Friends is Lithgow’s follow-up to Singin’ in the Bathtub and he again teams up with conductor Bill Elliot to create the big-band sound that drives the songs. The numbers are funny, upbeat and reminiscent of Danny Kaye’s children’s recordings.

“I strongly believe in the importance of firing the imagination of children, of showing them the power and delight of music, of encouraging them to listen and join in,” says Lithgow. Of the many highlights on the CD, a duet with award-winning actress, singer and dancer Bebe Neuwirth on Leonard Bernstein’s swinging “The Wrong Note Rag” hits just the right “wrong” note. “The Remarkable Farkle McBride,” from Lithgow’s book of the same name, is not only a primer on the musical instruments in an orchestra, but an encouragement to “play on with persistence and passion and pride.”

Lithgow’s presence in the children’s musical marketplace is refreshing and needed. Check for song lyrics and upcoming live concerts of Farkle & Friends.

• Animal Crackers, Maria Muldaur, Music For Little People; $15.98 CD, $9.98 cassette; 800-346-4445;

Another crossover artist with talent to burn is Maria Muldaur. Her third children’s music entry, Animal Crackers, celebrates the songs made famous by little curly-top herself, Shirley Temple. To help with the vocal honors is talented 8-year-old Carrie Lyn. Highlights include “At the Codfish Ball,” “On The Good Ship Lollipop,” “When I Grow Up” and the title song. But all the numbers get the full musical treatment from Muldaur’s band, which features some of the finest jazz musicians in the San Francisco Bay Area. Muldaur’s smoky voice adds just the right amount of pizzazz to these timeless songs.

– John Wood

Check out to see some of John’s previous reviews.

From United Parenting Publications, August 2002