IGNORED OBSCURED RESTORED
Next week is Christmas. Millions of children will wake to find new toys under their Christmas trees. If I could have my way, there would be more musical instruments and many fewer electronic devices. Even “toy” instruments for the very young children would be a worthwhile introduction to a hobby (or vocation) that they might enjoy for a lifetime.
This idea got me thinking about adult bands that use toy instruments. Jimmy Fallon has had a running gag with pop artists performing their big hits with his house band, the Roots, playing “classroom” instruments. Adele did “Hello”, Adina Menzel (or whatever her name is) did “Let It Go”, and Meghan Trainor did “All about the Bass.” Another good one was perfect for the holidays – Mariah Carey doing a reggae infused version of “All I Want for Christmas is You.”
Long before Fallon got the idea, bands were incorporating toy instruments into their recordings. The toy piano used by the B52s on “Dance This Mess Around” immediately comes to mind. They Might Be Giants also use toy instruments on occasion (“O We”).
Then there was Pianosaurus, the band that recorded a whole album of songs performed exclusively on toy instruments – 1987’s Groovy Neighborhood.
Pianosaurus was the trio of Alex Garvin (toy guitarist/vocalist/songwriter), Bianca “Flystrip” Miller (miniature keyboards), and Stephen Dansiger (Fraggle Rock drums). Peter Holsapple of the power pop darlings The dB’s produced the album.
Listening to Pianosaurus exposes a paradox. On the one hand their music is totally rock ‘n roll through its subversive use of toy instruments to make adult rock music. But what could be less R&R than music so limited by its tools that it barely goes to 5, never mind 11?
The film buffs among you may recognize Pianosaurus for their contribution of “Back to School” to Francis Ford Coppola’s short “Life without Zoe” from the movie New York Stories.
This Christmas morning give the gift of music and make a little noise with the kids!
Enjoy… until next week.