recess radio program

Back to School with TMBG's ABCs
    by John Cech

With school starting again soon -- and in some places having already begun -- kids will be reciting and writing the alaphabet in earnestness across the country. Humor me for a second and imagine if these basic building blocks of our language could be learned to a beat like this:

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That's They Might Be Giants from their new CD, Here Come the ABCs. It's a fresh fusion of a number of elements: the familiar letter segments of Sesame Street, the catchy up-tempo approach of Schoolhouse Rock, all of it mixed together with TMBG's sense of playful absurdity and their inexhaustible verbal and musical inventiveness, as in "E Eats Everything":

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All of the letters turn up in these songs, and some of them get their own spotlight, like the surrealistic ode to the letter "P" called "Pictures of Pandas Painting" or the totally punny acronymic "I C U."

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These are not exactly traditional lessons, but they are important ones. They energize the idea of the alphabet, and send it into some rocking, imaginative, global spaces -- as they do on "The Alphabet of Nations:"

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Copyright 2005 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."