Listen to samples from As The Crow Flies below:
1. 10102 East 7th Avenue
2. Stevie’s Got a Maui Owie
3. Bully Girl and Bully Boy
4. Tooth Fairy Take Me Home
5. Too Much Stuff
6. Gravy and Potatoes
7. The Ballad of Bob
8. The Frog Song
9. Dig Deep Down
11. Macaroni and Cheese
12. Greyfriar’s Bobby
As The Crow Flies Reviews:
by Lynne Heffley
Veteran children’s artist Dan Crow–singer, storyteller, jokester, acoustic guitarist–is still going strong after more than three decades, and that’s amply clear in this delightful new album.
Crow, a former educator and speech therapist in Appalachian Virginia, is a master at wordplay, rhyme and rhythm, craftily fueling his silly-smart songs with unexpected vocabulary and playful lessons in grammar, and character-building, too. Nobody else could so deftly write a cautionary song about bullying using the words “hobbledehoy” and “churl”–and weaving in the definition of each (“Bully Girl and Bully Boy”). In Crow’s disarming take on the tooth fairy, the teeth do the talking (“Hello baby, I’m your baby tooth/my friends and I will join you in your early youth”).
With a cadre of accomplished musicians, Crow celebrates vowels in “Gravy and Potatoes” (an “Apples and Bananas” spin-off), issues an irresistible invitation to read (“Dig Deep Down”) and takes listeners on a tour around the world with an ode to his traveling companion (his guitar) in “The Ballad of Bob.” The final track, a moving tribute to “a very good dog” (“Greyfriar’s Bobby”), shifts gears with tender warmth. Crow may not have the high profile of some of the field’s stars, but with his skilled musicality and genuine, contagious exuberance, he belongs among the best–as his legion of fans around the globe would surely agree.
Lynne Heffley ©2014 Parents’ Choice
A freelance writer and editor for the arts and non-profit organizations, Lynne is a former staff writer for the Los Angeles Times, where she established the paper’s first weekly children’s arts and entertainment beat.
The realm of children’s music is one of the most underrated within the music industry. Even now in the 21st century, there is still something of a stigma attached to children’s music. The reason for that is anyone’s guess. Maybe it’s just because it’s music meant for children. But in comparison to the glut of cookie cutter acts across the genres in the world of grown-up music, albums released in recent years within the world of children’s music have proven to be far more creative and in turn entertaining for audiences of all ages. As the Crow Flies, the latest release from educator and children’s entertainer Dan Crow is proof positive of this. Crow’s new album boasts an interesting mix of music throughout the course of its twelve songs and roughly forty minute run time. It is anchored by a trio of songs that teach some important lessons and entertain at the same time. The first of that trio is the simply-titled anti-bullying song ‘Bully Girl and Bully Boy.’ Crow teaches his young audiences about the folly of being a bully through this song. In ‘Too Much Stuff,’ Crow presents a simplistic start to what is in reality a much deeper topic in the issue of having a messy room. The topic in question is one of health safety. And if one wanted to, one could even say that it could lead to a discussion on hoarding, as hoarding can even begin in childhood. So as simple as this song seems, it really proves to be an important addition to Crow’s new album. Last of the album’s three strongest moments on As The Crow Flies is the pro-literacy song ‘Dig Deep Down.’ Any song that promotes literacy and even reading books in a digital age is well worth the listen and worthy of respect. All three of the songs noted are good examples of what makes As The Crow Flies enjoyable. They are only a portion of what Crow offers audiences, too. The album’s closer ‘Greyfriar’s Bobby’ is a wonderful piece based on the real-life story of a Skye Terrier that spent fourteen years at the grave of its master John Gray, who was allegedly a police officer for the Edinburgh City Police sometime in the late 19th century. The song incorporates an actual Celtic sound, making the song even more enjoyable especially for those that are fans of the Celtic sound (this critic included). Crow also offers audiences an updated take on the children’s standard ‘Apples and Bananas.’ And then there is the fun ‘Playground,’ whose energy and lyrical side together do a good job of illustrating both the energy felt by kids as they play and the need to get kids active. These songs also exemplify what Dan Crow has to offer in his new album. They and the other songs not noted here come together with the album’s trio of anchors to make As The Crow Flies another good example of why children’s music deserves just as much credit as any music crafted for grown-ups.
Dan Crow shows throughout the course of his new album As The Crow Flies that he has plenty to offer audiences of all ages. His album is one more that proves despite its reputation in some circles, music for children is just as viable a genre as that for grown-ups if not more so. One way in which it proves this is Through one of the album’s anchors, ‘Bully Girl and Bully Boy.’ The song is a strong and solid anchor both in its simple title and its equally simplistic lyrical approach. Bullying is an important issue that needs to remain on the front burner whether it be across the United States or in other parts of the world. And Mr. Crow is to be applauded for doing his part in the ongoing battle against bullies in this song. He writes in this song about the folly of being a bully, hoping to get potential bullies to see how pointless their actions are. He writes, “Now if you are a hobbledehoy/Don’t become a bully boy/Misbehaving like a churl/That makes you a bully girl/To pick on others brings you joy/That makes you a bully boy/A banner of meanness you unfurl/That makes you a bully girl.” He goes on in this same vein through the song’s second verse, explaining how different actions make a person a bully. There’s a certain attitude in his delivery that indirectly points the finger at people who engage in such acts. But he doesn’t do so in an accusatory fashion, either. It’s sort of Crow saying, “you know who you are” without actually saying it. He refrains in the song’s chorus that “Bully boy and bully girl/We don’t need bullies in this world.” He’s right. We don’t need bullies in this world. We don’t need bullies whether they be children or adults. Crow’s approach in sending this message helps to make both the song and the message more enjoyable and memorable among the album’s other songs.
The message sent through Crow’s anti-bullying song ‘Bully Girl and Bully Boy’ is an important piece of the whole that is As The Crow Flies. It comes at a time when every volley against bullying that can be used should. It is such a simplistic song. Yet it sends an important message without being preachy at the same time, making it a song that children and grown-ups alike will appreciate. It’s only one of the important additions to the album in whole, too. Just as important of an addition is the song ‘Too Much Stuff.’ As with ‘Bully Girl and Bully Boy,’ Crow has taken a simplistic approach with this song. His approach is simplistic both musically and lyrically. He writes in this song about a young person that simply put, has too much stuff in his or her room. He writes, “The pile of toys is very steep/I think I’ll climb it before I sweep/Here’s the fins I use to swim/And a basketball, and here’s the rim.” That verse alone paints a rather vivid picture. The scary thing is that there are people that live like this. Children aren’t the only ones, either. He goes on to write, “Clothes are here and clothes are there/And books are scattered everywhere/Papers cover up the floor/Cleaning up is such a chore.” Again, the image is rather clear. And so is the message. And again, there are adults that live in such squalor, too. So adults could get as much from this as children. It probably wasn’t Mr. Crow’s intention to craft a song in ‘Too Much Stuff’ that presented itself as the door to a much bigger issue. But it most certainly could be the starting point in discussing at least with children the importance of a clean room (and clean house). A clean room helps keep out all kinds of things from mold and mildew to even the potential of other things (god forbid). A clean room is a very important issue in terms of health. A clean room is also a room in which it is safe to walk around without fear of hurting one’s self in one way or another. So yet again, here we have Crow tackling a very serious topic in a way that makes it accessible to young audiences. It also makes it accessible enough that parents and teachers alike could use it as a starting point in a discussion with those young audiences about the importance of cleanliness and even personal health. For that, he is to be applauded yet again. It makes clear once more why he is an award-winning musician. And it makes even clearer why As The Crow Flies works as well as it does.
Both ‘Too Much Stuff’ and ‘Bully Girl and Bully Boy’ are important and enjoyable additions to Dan Crow’s new album As The Crow Flies. They both tackle very serious topics in a manner that makes them accessible to both children and grown-ups. They are simplistic enough that they will entertain young audiences while serving as good starting points for discussions on their given topics. What’s more they serve as said starting points without being preachy, too. That is even more impressive. They aren’t the only songs on this album that are so impressive. Crow’s pro-literacy song ‘Dig Down Deep’ deserves attention, too. Crow writes in this song about the joys of reading, plain and simple. He writes, “Reading is a pleasure and it passes the time/In my imagination and I keep it in mind/Like humor and adventure/The things people tried/And when the book is finished I feel so satisfied.” Any bibliophile out there will agree to Crow’s sentiment. Though sometimes, it’s just as tough to want to finish a book when it’s a really good one. But anyway, he writes about going to the library to check out a book in the song’s lead verse, and of being excited to find a shady place to sit and read said book. Again, the image is so vivid. It’s an image that sadly so few of today’s youths can envision considering that everything seems to be going digital. Digital is fine as a companion. But in the view of this critic in particular, the digital will never replace the physical object. We as adults need to make sure that books stay around as physical objects. And we need to make sure that the next generation grows up with more love for books than video games. There is nothing wrong with the digital industry taking on a bigger role in the world’s economy and schools. But it should not overtake the importance of a child’s ability to read. As Crow sings, “We’ve got a lot of reading to do.” We sure do. And hopefully we always will have a lot of reading to do for generations to come. Yet again, it’s such a hefty topic approached in a manner that makes it enjoyable and accessible for audiences young and old alike. It’s one more piece that makes As The Crow Flies enjoyable and that makes it work as well as it does.
Dan Crow has plenty to offer audiences on his new album, as should be evident here. He offers some pretty hefty topics in an accessible fashion. They make for good starting points for longer discussions on the topics in question. For all of the seriousness that he handles on As The Crow Flies, Crow also offers some more easygoing pieces, too. One example of that comes in the form of the album’s closer ‘Greyfriar’s Bobby,’ which is based on the story of a real life Scottish Skye Terrier. The song outlines the dog’s devotion to its master, who was apparently a night watchman for the Edinburgh City Police sometime in the late 19th Century. The song’s Celtic sound and even Crow’s own attempt to sing with a little bit of a Celtic tongue adds to the song’s enjoyment. Crow also offers on his new album an updated take on the standard children’s song ‘Apples and Bananas.’ Instead of using apples and bananas in his updated take, he uses gravy and potatoes as the pneumonic devices to teach the vowels. And it’s all sung in much the same fashion as ‘Apples and Bananas’ just with a slight EDM twist about it. It’s definitely an interesting piece to hear. As if all of this isn’t enough, Crow also offers late in the album a piece simply titled ‘Playground.’ Crow and his fellow musicians do a good job of exhibiting the energy felt by a child who wants to go out and play as Crow sings about all the joys of childhood play on the playground. From playing hopscotch to climbing on a jungle gym to swinging on the swings (always a childhood favorite…..perhaps because of the freedom one feels when swinging) and so much more, all of those pleasures are there. And much like the album’s core trio of songs, it could really serve as a starting point for a discussion on the need for play and getting kids active. That is especially the case considering childhood obesity remains such a hot button topic today. It’s just one more example of why As The Crow Flies is so enjoyable and why it works as well as it does.
Crow has shown a certain understanding of child mentality and of music and its power throughout As The Crow Flies. Whether it be these additional pieces, the album’s core songs or the others not noted here, each piece on this album works in its own way to make As The Crow Flies an album that every parent, teacher, and child should hear at least once. Who knows? They might be jumping for joy just as Crow himself does on the album’s cover after giving it a chance. They might even be jumping for joy when they experience his music live. Crow is currently touring in support of As The Crow Flies. He is scheduled to perform live this Thursday and Friday, December 18th and 19thin Los Angeles. Audiences can get the full details on those upcoming shows and keep up with the latest updates from Crow online at: http://www.dancrow.com.
To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.