For anyone who came of age in the early ‘90s, Lisa Loeb’s “Stay”—the anthem to the Gen X classic rom-com Reality Bites starring Winona Ryder and Ethan Hawke—was a song you had on repeat. But these days, those lovelorn, chain-smoking early 20-somethings who would sit around debating the definition of “ironic” are more likely to have something like “Itsy Bitsy Spider” or “Skip to My Lou” on repeat. Thankfully, Loeb's melodic voice is still the one blaring from the car radio.
With Nursery Rhyme Parade!, her third children’s album now available on Amazon Music ($13; amazon.com), the 47-year-old mom of two has crafted an album that parents will delight in just as much as their kids. With stripped-down melodies and a strict adherence to traditional lyrics, the tunes are sure to jog even the most sleep-deprived parental brain. In fact, that rigor for tradition meant some nursery rhymes got left on the cutting room floor. “I asked my kids [ages 3 and 6] if we should we do 'Three Blind Mice,' because my little boy loves 'Three Blind Mice,' and my daughter, who’s almost six said, ‘Um, mom, that song’s a little violent,’” Loeb tells InStyle. “So there was a little bit of a struggle here and there about song selection.”
Loeb recently spoke with us about the making of the album—even giving InStyle an exclusive preview of the video for "Pop Goes the Weasel"—and what every Gen X-er is dying to know: Will she debut another album for adults sometime soon?
What sparked the idea for this album of nursery rhymes?
"We have a lot of nursery rhyme books at home, and the kids love hearing them. Some of them I knew the melodies to, and others I couldn’t remember. My mom would help me, because she used to sing me these songs when I was little. She’d be like, 'Of course you remember 'The Muffin Man!'' Along the way, when I was looking for those kind of songs, I realized that there were a lot of people recording them, but not a lot of people recording them in a very simple, classic way."
How do your kids like these pared-down versions of the songs?
"They love singing along. These are their 'hits.' With my kids, we look for times to wind down or that are a little bit more for being calm. It’s not always a time for a wacky version of a song. My son loves to dance during 'Yankee Doodle,' but it’s not frenetic—well, it’s not that frenetic!"
Did your kids make any special requests for the recordings?
"My son wanted 'Itsy Bitsy Spider.' My daughter is almost six and at first she thought it was baby music. But she still really enjoys some of the songs. For her, what was the most exciting on this project was actually getting to come to the studio and be a part of the process. She came along for our walk-around for the video 'I’m a Little Nut Tree' and she came up with some good ideas! She ended up reciting 'Start Light, Star Bright.' My son participated in 'This Little Piggy'—you get to hear him laughing."
Sounds like you’ve struck a good work-life balance.
"Their life takes priority. Early on, before I had two kids, I brought my daughter when she was a baby to a show that, on paper, looked great. They had a hotel room for us and it was in the mountains, but really she was in bed in the middle of my sound check! So we just wound up looking for a babysitter while I worked. It’s easier when I just go and play, and then come home. I lean on their grandparents a lot. I’m still trying to figure it out. There’s not a lot of people—moms—I can talk to about this situation. I talk to a lot of dads, but I feel like it’s different for moms."
Any plans for a more adult record soon?
"I’m actually working toward that right now. Immediately, there’s going to be another kids' record. I still play lots of shows and have been writing new songs; and at those shows I’ve played some of those songs, but I need to put them together in a record."
Grab the kids for an exclusive first-listen of the video for "Pop Goes the Weasel" from Loeb's latest children's album, Nursery Rhyme Parade.