In the fall of 2013, I had the privilege of attending a workshop at Hutchmoot — the annual conference of The Rabbit Room — which featured Randall Goodgame and S.D. Smith. At the time, I was a green young dad, my own boys just past their fourth and second birthdays, respectively. And I was on the hunt for any kind of dad-wisdom I could get.
I don’t recall the specific topic of the workshop, but I do remember feeling overwhelmingly gratified and encouraged to see my role as Dad to my two boys in a brand-new light. As I heard Randall share stories about playing laser tag with his kids, losing his temper, then swallowing his pride and apologizing, and singing and dancing right alongside his own children, I felt a burden slip off my shoulders.
It was okay to be silly. As a matter of fact, there was a really good chance that not taking myself so dang seriously as I was wont to do, would allow life to happen in an authentic, organic way that was the best possible recipe for parenting.
It’s this spirit of wide-eyed joy, mixed with a healthy self-depreciation, the willingness to get down and get silly, that flavors every second of Modern Kid, the new release from Slugs & Bugs music. As Randall (the mad genius behind Slugs & Bugs) said in a recent newsletter, “My kids … taught me new ways to have fun. They taught me to take children seriously and take myself much less seriously, and I’m a better man for all the lessons.”
This is the first Slugs & Bugs record since 2011’s “Under Where” to focus exclusively on “silly songs,” and, boy, is it a whole bunch of fun. It took — by my scientific calculations — approximately 3.64 seconds for the first smile to split our faces when we put on Modern Kid for the first time. And the laughs and grins kept on coming. There are songs about ping pong, pangolins, the importance of wearing pants, and an unforgettable song entitled “Poop in a Bag.” I’ll never see dog-walking the same way again.
But what’s the point of all this silly? Well, if my family is any indication, Modern Kid has provided us with that most blessed of gifts: an excuse to perform silly dances together, make up silly voices together, and laugh together at lyrics like, “If you’ve never had scrambled eggs/and you look like a pinecone on four legs/Guess what! You’re a pangolin!”
The album also features guest appearances from the two newest members of the Slugs & Bugs family, Doug the Slug and Sparky the Lightning Bug, both puppet characters from The Slugs & Bugs Show. There’s also a song called “The Backwards Alphabet,” and one about a fictional place called Catapultanaugahikawallawallarickitikianapoodloodlakastanvilletown. Yup. My boys have already gotten that one memorized.
As for the music, Goodgame’s songs are catchy in the best way possible, and the song arrangements, performances, and production from Ben Shive and Don Chaffer are always innovative and full of delightful creative touches.
If I get to be the one to tell you how much joy and delight the music of Slugs & Bugs has brought to my home, and how it will likely do the same for yours, I couldn’t be happier. And if you already know about Slugs & Bugs, but haven’t had the chance to check out Modern Kid, consider this the best kind of breaking-news update. You won’t be disappointed by a second of it.