The Princess Who Saved Herself

August 16th, 2010

Look everyone, Len made an image for a new Jonathan Coulton song! That hasn’t happened in about 50 years it seems like. For those who don’t know (is there anyone?) Len Peralta is the talented visual artist person who made an image for each Thing a Week song way back when. Above is the image he made to go with my new song.

I was asked to contribute a new song to this CD of kid’s music called Many Hands, the proceeds of which benefit the Haitian People’s Support Project. It’s an amazing list of artists – Dan Zanes, TMBG, frigging Pete Seeger – so I was honored to be invited. I wrote a song called “The Princess Who Saved Herself” because my daughter is obsessed with princesses, so I am forced to think and talk about them a lot. None of them really kick ass as much as I hope my daughter kicks ass when she’s all grown up, so I made up one that does (she ate a whole cake!). All recorded at home old school style, with a little assist from my sister in the comedic harpsichord bridge.

It’s for charity, so I’m not going to give it away here, but you can listen and buy at iTunes and Amazon. The song is exclusive to this CD, and the CD itself is a fantastically large and delicious collection of family music, so you should probably buy the whole thing anyway.

AND, question for the parental section of the hive mind: what are your top five family friendly tracks of mine? What’s a hit with the kids and also guaranteed not to embarrass you in front of other parents? Radio stations are asking and I’m not sure what to tell them. Not First of May, right?

85 responses to “The Princess Who Saved Herself”

  1. Mike says:

    I’m not a parent, but one of your kid hits has to be Mr. Fancy Pants. That song is impossible for whimsy fans of any age to resist.

  2. Karl says:

    The song is also available on Zune Marketplace. Hey, we’re out there.

  3. Quite so. “First of May” started playing when my son was playing one of the I-Spy games because he accidentally hit the play button on the keyboard. Once we figured out what had happened, we had to race across the room to beat the chorus!

    Our kids love Tom Cruise Crazy, Code Monkey, Ikea, My Monkey, Monkey Shines, and Chiron Beta Prime.

  4. Scott says:

    First of May, Town Crotch, Baby Got Back.

    I don’t believe in shielding kids from the realities of life :-)

    I’m betting Giant Baby would go over well, though.

    Disclaimer: I’m not part of the parental hive mind, in case you couldn’t tell.

  5. Tony V. says:

    Every night I sing my baby daughter to sleep with I Crush Everything.

  6. Pamster says:

    I gotta agree, number one has to be Mr. Fancy Pants. I play it all the time for my two nieces. The only song they love more is “King of Spain” by Moxy Fruvous. Which is awesome, btw. And you should do a cover.

    Just sayin’.

    Other family friendlies would have to be “Stroller Town”, “Rock and Roll Boy”, and “My Beige Bear”

  7. A.J. says:

    My five year old daughter likes IKEA. But that may be because she likes the store itself so much. She also likes singing Still Alive with me.

  8. Eugenio says:

    My kids dig Chiron Beta Prime, I feel fantastic, Ikea, Sky Mall, That spells DNA

  9. ajay85 says:

    I’m not particularly concerned about being embarrassed in front of other parents, I’m fairly open about my geeky side.
    So in no particular order, 5 fun kidish songs:

    My Beige Bear
    Stroller Town
    I’m Your Moon
    I Will
    Mr. Fancy Pants

  10. Delynn says:

    Don’t have kids, but the little bro and sis (12 and 10) love Creepy Doll, That Spells DNA (which my mother also loves!), Mr. Fancy Pants (lil sis even made a music video of it!), Re: Your Brains (their very first introduction to the idea of zombies!), The Presidents, and Tom Cruise Crazy. They’re crazy for JoCo music though…I’ve actually had to stop my brother from listening to First of May…and he is always singing Kenesaw Mountain Landis and I get in trouble for that one ;D

  11. Jack says:

    My Beige Bear is hands down the most friendly, it also has a lesson apparently.

  12. Greg K says:

    You are quite the celebrity among my 4, 8, 10 yo sons. So…

    * Future Soon
    * Skullcrusher Mountain
    * Blue Sunny Day
    * Curl
    * Mr. Fancy Pants

    Also: Not 100% Family Friendly, but favorite of mine

    * re: Your Brains
    * Creepy Doll
    * Ikea
    * Code Monkey
    * Big Bad World (pre-teen anthem in the making)

  13. Dave says:

    Re: Your Brains, Creepy Doll,Skullcrusher Mountain.
    I only have Best. Concert. Ever and I don’t play the whole CD for the kids.

  14. JonathanL says:

    Songs for families – tried to go with lyrically-appriopriate, upbeat stuff, mostly. You know, to suck them into a world of sad evil masterminds and oblivious husbands:

    As Long As Me
    Mr. Fancy Pants
    I Crush Everything
    Furry Old Lobster

  15. Kerrin says:

    Well I’m a big kid at heart, does that count, and my favourite family friendly song is Mr Fancy Pants, although this one is really good too.

  16. I have to keep making new JoCo CDs for the car because I keep giving them away to people. I am required by my children, however, to always replace them immediately, as it’s pretty much the only CD they want to listen to.

    Here are my kids’ favorites:

    The Future Soon (“The monorail song” or, “the mama-rail song”, depending on which child you ask)

    IKEA (although others might not want their kids singing along with “GD Swedish Parade”)

    Mr. Fancy Pants – All Time Favorite of theirs

    Chiron Beta Prime (“The Robot Song”- or sometimes the “Spanish Robot Song” — The robot council had a Spanish to an asteroid)(My 3yo son does the whole Andy Bates routine from Best. Concert. Ever.)

    I Crush Everything

    Bonus Round: Mama’s choices:

    Always the Moon

    I’m your Moon

    Stroller Town

  17. Len says:

    My kids have grown up on you. Here are their Fab 5 in no particular order:

    Still Alive
    SkullCrusher Mountain
    Tom Cruise Crazy
    I Crush Everything
    Re: Your Brains

  18. vampandora says:

    My 6 yr old loves you.

    Mr. Fancy Pants and the PG version of Code Monkey were on his Birthday CD last year.

    He also loves Creepy Doll, Ikea and, more questionably, Re: Your Brains. I had to veto that on the bday CD last year. We’re OK w/ it but some parents wouldn’t be. This year’s veto was Jason Webley’s Drinking Song.

  19. vampandora says:

    Oh, and Chiron Beta Prime. He had that on repeat for a while.

  20. Marisa says:

    I can’t help with kid-friendliness,not having children of my own,but I’m writing my Bachelor’s thesis on fairy tales with strong female protagonists in preparation to be a children’s librarian,so maybe I can help you with your problem of finding more interesting princesses for your daughter to read about.Since the 1980s or so,there’s been a feminist reaction to how un-feminist most fairy tales are(or have been percieved,since they were appropriated by their collectors for socialization purposes),so since then,there’s been a lot of books made for children that teach more modern values.Alison Lurie gathered a collection of folktales from across European culture that had strong female protagonists,called Clever Gretchen And Other Forgotten Folktales.Jane Yolen collected tales from around the world in Not One Damsel In Distress:World Fairy Tales For Strong Girls,and both of those should have at least some princesses in them.If you’re looking for a picturebook,try Cornelia Funke’s The Princess Knight.It’s about a princess who wants to be a knight like her brothers and trains in secret when her father won’t let her.Eventually,the king wants to marry her off to whoever can win a tournament,so she enters it herself,disguised,and wins.Since she’s won the right to marry whomever she wants,she marries the stable boy.It’s got some nice illustrations,and pretty much anything by Cornelia Funke is gold,from what I’ve seen.

    I’ve found links for all of them,but I’d suggest trying to find them at your library before buying them,to make sure you like them.Also,with the two folktale books,you might want to give them a read yourself before you read them to your daughter,to see if there’s anything you object to in them(not likely,but every parent’s got different ideas about what their child should be exposed to,what’s age-appropriate,what will hold their interest,ect.).

    Sorry for taking up so much space,but you don’t know how much I live for recommending books to people,lol.

  21. Jim says:

    My 9 year old likes:

    Mr. Fancy Pants (live version)
    Future Soon
    Code Monkey
    Tom Cruise Crazy
    I’m Your Moon

  22. Jeff says:

    My four boys (age 6 & 7… You do the math) sing Skullcrusher Mountain and Code Monkey (AM lyrics) daily. We’ll have to work on the lyrics to Fancypants next…

  23. Colleenky says:

    Well, you know how much my kids enjoyed performing Mr. Fancy Pants. :-)

  24. Chris says:

    My kids LOVE this song. We’ve memorized the lyrics and sing it all the time (except the last line… can’t quite figure that out.)

    Every time they play this on Sirius, the kids laugh out loud at “Hey Phillip, does this sound like a phone hanging up?”. Every. Time. Love it!

  25. Larry says:

    There are more than a few JoCo songs kids could/do enjoy, but no one has commented on how STARVED many of us are for new material. I happily downloaded from iTunes without previewing and couldn’t help but notice it was the ONLY popular rated track from the compilation (which has a 5 star rating!!). Are any other artists “working” this worthy endeavor?

  26. ZapDevil says:

    Kids are 6 and 7 (boys) and 9 and 11 (girls)

    The 11 year old has recently decided that she hates everything I like, so she’s not a fan.

    The 9 year old loves I Feel Fantastic (when she asks me how I feel, she is disappointed if I don’t sing the chorus to her), Still Alive, Code Monkey and Skullcrusher Mountain.

    The boys love Mr. Fancy Pants, Code Monkey, and Re: Your Brains, Better, Screwed (it may have to do with the inclusion of Boba Fett and Indiana Jones in the lyrics) and When You Go. The last one isn’t really a “kid’s song” per se, but I’m a sucker for sad songs and they share half my genes.

    I played the boys the video of Nemesis and they liked that one a lot, too.

  27. AndyP says:

    Code Monkey has often been requested as a daddy sings a bedtime song (though I refer to a “‘dog gone’ login page”). Whenever we listen to Ikea, New Jersey is hosting a “‘bork bork’ Swedish parade”. And, as residents of Minnesota, it’s “always so ‘dang’ cold” when we Curl. Stroller Town is A-OK just as it is (and pretty darn awesome at that). Sadly, there is no childification for Mandelbrot Set, as the best line has to remain as it’s written. (Though, I do recall on one of the discussion threads, someone saying their tot proudly sang “Bad-ass Monkey Fractal”, which though cute, still contains a questionable mule reference.)

  28. AndyP says:

    Oh, and to be clear, I love your work, but now that I wear the parental hat, I need to be a bit more stringent about lyrics.

  29. Jesse says:

    I love the new song. And I’m not (technically) a kid anymore. I can hardly wait for the new album!

  30. Tiffany says:

    My kids, who were MAD at me when I went to see you in concert without them, are 9 and 11.

    They love Still Alive (the Portal song), Re: Your Brains, Chiron Beta Prime, My Beige Bear, I Crush Everything, Future Soon, My Monkey, Mr. Fancy Pants, Curl, and Code Monkey. I think those top the request lists. I have had to tell them I can’t play certain songs with curse words (re: Your Brains, Code Monkey, Curl) when other kids are in the car.

  31. Damon says:

    My kids (7,5,&2) love Code Monkey, My Beige Bear, and I’m Your Moon.

    JoCo, have you seen the preview for Tangled? Looks like a kick-ass Rapunzel retcon.

    My favorite strong princess stories are the movie Ever After (w/ Drew Barrymore) and the Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia Wrede, in which Princess Cimorene decides to volunteer as a dragon’s princess.

  32. Luke M says:

    My son (7) loves “IKEA.” He also likes “Re. Your Brains” and sings along with the chorus. It is adorable.

  33. Sara says:

    I’m not part of the parental section, but since others have continued the thread of “princesses who kick ass”:

    Thank you for writing “The Princess Who Saved Herself”. I liked the lyrics from the start, but reading your explanation fills me with joy because you are right–the world needs more stories of princesses who kick ass.

    This topic means a lot to me because my dad always gave me books with female heroes, and as a result I always thought it was normal for girls to be strong and independent. I was well into adulthood before I understood why people would call me brave or say, “I could never do what you do.”

    I implore all parents to teach their children–boys and girls alike–to kick ass, because growing up believing you can do anything is awesome.

    PS – The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch is a brilliant children’s book, and should be read by everyone under 10. I haven’t seen it since I was a kid myself, but I have never forgotten the story.

  34. craig says:

    I think it would mucho cool if you would re-record many of the referenced ‘slightly modified’ songs with ‘family-friendly’ lyrics for the faint-hearted. You could title the Album JoCoLite (which sounds suspiciously like ChoCoLate). I’d play Mandlebrot set in a school science class if that one phrase was modified. I know, I know… artistic integrity and all that nonsense…

  35. arghc says:

    The kids started with us with: still alive, then skullcrusher mountain, better, code monkey and re: your brains. sadly i like laptop like you and mandelbrot set more than they do, but they’ll come around. 😎 😎

  36. Rob says:

    I sing my daughter to sleep with “You Ruined Everything” and “Furry Red Lobster”

  37. Dan says:

    I took an informal poll and the top picks in my household are:
    Daughter (7)
    RE: Your Brains
    The Princess Who Saved Herself
    Creepy Doll

    Son (3)
    “Pathogical [sic] Monsters” (Mandelbrot Set)
    “Dance So Serious Dance” (Dance, Soterios Johnson, Dance)
    “Somewhere in the Darkness” (Curl)
    “Glowing Pterodactyl” (also Mandelbrot Set)

  38. Autumnraina says:

    The “joco – kids” playlist on the iPod runs frequently in my house/car. (for the record, kids have not heard any of the 6 new songs, or the princess song, yet.) The top five (from the 6 yr old and 2 yr old) are:
    My Beige Bear
    Mr. Fancy Pants (live)
    I Feel Fantastic
    You Ruined Everything
    My Monkey (which I frequently sing as “My Mommy”)

    6 year old also really likes:
    I’m Your Moon
    When You Go

    Looking forward to getting the new “Princess” song. 6 yr old is also princess-obsessed and could use a song like yours.

  39. Mary says:

    – Mr. Fancy Pants
    – I’m Your Moon
    – My Beige Bear
    – I Feel Fantastic
    – Re: Your Brains
    – Lobster
    – Ikea
    – Future Soon
    – Code Monkey
    – Skullcrusher Mountain
    – I Crush Everything
    – Laptop Like You

  40. I am glad to have found this image and blog and my kids right now are obsessed with RE: Your Brains and Skullcrusher Mountain.

  41. My 3 girls are 6, 8 and 15 and all of them sing along at the top of their lungs whenever we put on Code Monkey, ShopVac, RE: Your Brains or Someone is Crazy.

    I know you asked for 5 but for some reason they’ve all learned the words to these 4 songs…

  42. Midwife Jen says:

    My 8 yr old daughter Amelia loves Shop Vac, IKEA, and Creepy Doll. Has all three on her iPod playlist. ALthough Creepy Doll did give her a short-lived bout of insomnia at age 5. 😉

  43. Mousers says:

    – 9 year old likes Skullcrusher Mountain, Mandelbrot Set, Space Doggity and You’re my Moon (he’s big into science, can ya tell?)
    – 7 year old likes I Crush Everything, and Code Monkey
    – 4 year old likes Re: Your Brains A LOT (she even wants to be a “pink zombie” for halloween…whatever that is).

    They have heard First of May, but not often. Favorites of all of them:

    – Chiron Beta Prime
    – Code Monkey
    – Still Alive
    – Future Soon
    – Mr Fancy Pants
    – Re: Your Brains

  44. gretchen says:

    It’s too tough to limit to just 5. The JoCo playlist for our now 13-month-old son includes:

    – SkyMall
    – Shop Vac
    – Blue Sunny Day
    – Tom Cruise Crazy (my kid shares a birthday w/TC, sigh)
    – My Beige Bear
    – Octopus
    – I Feel Fantastic
    – Always the Moon
    – The Future Soon
    – Stroller Town
    – That Spells DNA
    – Space Doggity
    – The Presidents (since Wilson did kick ass, we figure “ass” is ok for our kid to hear)
    – You Ruined Everything (I started singing this to my son as a lullaby when he was still in the womb; probably goes without saying that we’re saving for his future shrink instead of college)

    Good times. We dig your tunes. And your shows. You pretty much rock.

  45. Patrick Crofts says:

    Bought your track, great work as always.

  46. Matthew Nordhaus says:

    I thought her guitar was red.

  47. Matthew Nordhaus says:

    Oh, all right. I’ll be constructive. Our kid’s favorites:

    That Spells DNA
    Code Monkey
    Chiron Beta Prime
    Skullcrusher Mountain

    Betty and Me was in heavy rotation for a while, but has dropped off the charts lately.

  48. Christine Nordhaus says:

    Unfortunately, I can’t think of any of your songs that would be totally appropriate for kids whose parents have never listened to you. I have decided, however, that exposing children to a variety of salty language/ideas at an early age is helpful in teaching them what is acceptable in polite company. For instance, when one’s six-year-old refers to his brother as a “fuck face”, it’s a teachable moment, no?

    Matthew left off “Octopus”. The boys love that one. We’re terrible parents.

  49. Craig 8128 says:

    I’m no fan of “bowdlerized” versions, but — I think a G-rated version of Mandelbrot Set would be wonderful.

    Hey, Radiohead did it with Creep and it sold millions!

  50. Melissa says:

    My 6yo loves:

    Code Monkey (clearly her favorite, but then, my husband writes web code for a living)
    I Feel Fantastic
    Skullcrusher Mountain
    Re: Your Brains (she loves the idea of zombies and the “all going to die screaming” and “when we bash your head open” parts tickle her morbid side)

    And she has all of them on her Shuffle. Yeah, she’s mommy’s like geek, I’m so proud!