recess radio program

05/22/06
Songs from the Neighborhood
    by John Cech

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That's Jon Secada with the opening for his rendition of the theme song that Fred Rogers made famous on his Mister Rogers Neighborhood, which premiered today in 1967, and is still being rerun on television stations everywhere. It's the program that really started and sustained public television from the beginning. A number of the songs from the show are featured on a new CD-DVD combination called Songs from the Neighborhood -- The Music of Mister Rogers. It includes performances by Amy Grant, John Pizzarelli, Maureen McGovern, and Crystal Gayle -- all of whom give rather heavily-stringed performances of Mister Rogers' favorites. In fact, one yearns for the utter simplicity of the originals.

For a real treat, though, just have a listen to a little of Ricky Skaggs doing "Let's Think of Something to Do While We're Waiting":

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Then there's Toni Rose whose breathy "Just for Once," shows how at least one of these songs can become a surprisingly grown-up, pop anthem. Mellowest of all, the elegant Roberta Flack thankfully takes us back home, to that familiar place:

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Copyright 2006 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."