The other day a song came on during Kenny Curtis’ Animal Farm on Kids Place Live, a little somethin’ somethin’ for the parents. And it was Soul Coughing’s “Circles.” Man, how did I forget this song? I used to play this a ton in dance classes when I taught – it’s upbeat, has a nice tempo, and it’s language is appropriate for all ages. And here it was, being played for my children’s enjoyment, a decade after I first heard it. Let me state for the record that I absolutely LOVE when adult songs have been repurposed for children. Upcycling? Or just music for the masses? You decide.
When I bought the album, El Oso (released in 1998, for those of you trying to date me) after it came out, it was my go-to album for months. I listened to a loop of Soul Coughing on my subway commute from Brooklyn almost every day. On my old-school CD player tucked in to my backpack. And as I walked down the street, Mike Doughty’s sultry voice and the band’s psuedo-jazz/electronic melodies provided the soundtrack to my trek on the Upper East Side. I adored this band, their quirky, soulful style and complex, poetic lyrics. I envisioned a day when I would have the guts to commotion a score from them and choreograph something spectacular to it. One can dream, right? However, NYC broke my spirit, I never gathered the courage to make new work, and Soul Coughing disbanded in 2000 due to songwriting credit disputes. Oh well…
Lyrically, “Circles” it’s a bit of a bummer. There are references to getting pulled in, driving away, all seeming to imply a breakup of some sort. And who wants to go around and around over things?
I’ll tell you who. Small children. Physically and metaphorically. There was a point where I thought Mr. B had some kind of vertigo, the way he would orbit around me while waiting in line somewhere. With the endless “Where are we going next? And next? And next?” as accompaniment. Miss P loves to spin like a whirling dervish until she can’t walk in a straight line. That dizziness is ENTERTAINMENT. This song? It speaks to them.
And then, I remembered this video that used to show on the Cartoon Network, a collage of old Hanna Barbera clips that features Soul Coughing’s “Circles” as the soundtrack. When I showed this to Mr. B and Miss P, they went ape-poop over it.
MR B: It’s kinda funky….
MISS P: Can I spin to it? Then, YES!
MOMMY: If something goes ’round and ’round, I’ll take this over “Wheels on the bus!”