1. Hop Up, My Ladies 1:46
2. Froggie Went A-Courtin’ 3:46
3. Arm in Arm 2:26
4. San Toki (Mountain Bunny) 1:38
5. Kook 3:32
6. I Wish You Well 3:22
7. Summer is Icumen In 2:09
8. Rollin’ Baby 1:41
9. The Little Bird 1:22
10. Circle of the Sun 2:15
11. Moon Don’t Go 0:46
12. Everyone 2:47
13. May This Be Love 2:23
14. Yuki 2:06
15. Blue Sky 3:03
16. Blue Clouds 3:13
When Storey was three years old, there was a bedtime story that Daniel used to tell her called “The Land of Blue Clouds.” Many magical things happened in this land where the sky was gold and the clouds were blue. storey and daniel would weave the tales together, imagining adventures with fairies, elephants, oceans, rainbows, jaybirds, and beyond.
During this time, we were on our first cross-country tour with Storey, often spending every night in a different town. Returning to this “land of blue clouds” each night gave Storey a sense of home, whether we were in Tucson or Louisville, Eugene or Chicago. On our journey, Storey saw her first rainbow in Texas, her first cactus in the desert of Arizona, rode on her first pony (named Pickles!) in California, drove through her first tornado in Kansas, picked her first peach in Colorado, and made her first mural (a Christmas tree and a snake!) with her godmother Tara Jane in Oregon. Halfway through the tour, we were in northern California visiting my sister Caroline and her family. While we were there, Daniel picked up a ukulele, and the song “Blue Clouds” was born. Now we had a lullaby to carry us home, and we still sing it today, many years later.
Anything could happen in the land of blue clouds, and it still can. A frog can propose to a mouse and they can share buttercups and dewdrop tea, a bunny may go off on an adventure and gather chestnuts for her friends. When times get tough, we can throw the homework in the fire and take the car downtown. Everyone can sing along, hop up, and ask the moon to stay just a little longer, because you never know, two octopuses might marry, have a baby, and dance every day arm in arm in arm in arm in arm in arm in arm in arm…just one more story, one more song, while the silver moon is on the rise….
May 2012 Woodstock, NY
1. hop up, my ladies
ELIZABETH MITCHELL, VOCALS, PERCUSSION; DANIEL LITTLETON, HARMONIUM; STOREY LITTLETON, VOCALS; JANE SCARPANTONI, CELLO; KIRSTEN JACOBSON, FLUTE; NANCY CHUSID, RECORDER; JEAN COOK, VIOLA; CLEM WALDMANN, DRUMS; JUSTIN GUIP, DRUMS; RODMAN STOUT, VOCALS
Ruth Crawford Seeger’s songbooks are a great resource and treasury of american folk music and a continual source of inspiration in our home. Here we tried to create something new, inspired by her brilliant piano arrangement of this song. This recording makes me want to dance, and don’t forget, you don’t have to be a lady to hop up!
2. froggie went a-courtin’
ELIZABETH MITCHELL, VOCALS; DANIEL LITTLETON, VOCALS, HARMONIUM; RUTHY UNGAR, VOCALS, BANJO; JAY UNGAR, FIDDLE; MOLLY MASON, VOCALS, UPRIGHT BASS; CLEM WALDMANN, KNEE SLAPS
This tale of courtship between a frog and a mouse has been sung so many different ways in the folk tradition. We recorded another version—slower, with a repeating, echoing “uh-huh” throughout – many years ago on our album You Are My Sunshine. I never loved the “King Kong Kitchie” version until I started singing it with my students in a folk music class I was teaching this year. Something magical happened when I heard the children sing it this way. My friend Natalie taught me some verses I had never heard before, and it became clear that it was time to interpret the song again! I invited my friends Jay Ungar, Molly Mason, and Ruthy Ungar over to help me bring the music to life. Playing with this extraordinary family of musicians is an experience I will never forget. I changed the last verse from “they now had wealth and children three” to “they had good health and children three,” and they all lived happily ever after.
3. arm in arm
ELIZABETH MITCHELL, VOCALS, PIANO; DANIEL LITTLETON, GUITAR, HARP, ECHOPLEX BUBBLES; NANCY CHUSID, BASS RECORDER, OBOE BIRDS; KIRSTEN JACOBSON, FLUTE; STOREY AND PENNY LITTLETON, VOCALS
Storey’s godmother Cynthia Nelson gave the book Arm in Arm to Storey for her first birthday, and it has been a cherished part of our family life ever since. Several years later, Storey’s godfather Brian Selznick told me he had become friends with Remy, and a bridge was created between our worlds. I am grateful and amazed that the artwork of Remy Charlip is cradling the music of this album. I am still pinching myself and can’t quite believe it’s true! When I found out this was possible, I wanted so much to bring the visual art into the music. I asked my sister-in-law, Anna Padgett, to read Remy’s book Arm in Arm and see if a song came to her. Here it is! We had so much fun recording it, making bubbles and seabird calls, and creating the sound world of a happy octopus family.
Two octopuses got married and walked down the aisle
The love they shared it went on for miles
They walked arm in arm….
Their life it was sweet and after a while
They were so pleased to meet their own octopus child
They loved him arm in arm….
Oh, they were joyful and how they did play
Our octopus family they danced every day
They danced arm in arm….
4. san toki (mountain bunny)
ELIZABETH MITCHELL, VOCALS, PIANO; DANIEL LITTLETON, GUITAR, BANJO; JEAN COOK, VOCALS, VIOLIN; CLEM WALDMANN, DRUMS
Bunnies are so sweet and cute and magical and fun and…quiet. I wish bunnies made a sound, so that we could all make a sound like a bunny, but they don’t and so we can’t. so instead, for this recording, I imagined what the sound of bunnies hopping would be. I asked our violinist Jean cook, who taught us this wonderful song from korea, to play the violin in a way that would sound like bunnies hopping, and she did!
ELIZABETH MITCHELL, VOCALS; DANIEL LITTLETON, VOCALS, GUITAR, PIANO, HARMONIUM, BASS; STOREY LITTLETON, VOCALS; KIRSTEN JACOBSON, FLUTE; CLEM WALDMANN, DRUMS
David Bowie always has an entirely unique perspective to share through his songs, and here we learn some of his thoughts on parenting! When I was a teenager, my favorite song of his was “Changes,” now it is “Kooks.” Our family has always loved to sing along with this funny and tender song.
6. i wish you well
ELIZABETH MITCHELL, VOCALS; DANIEL LITTLETON, VOCALS, WURLITZER ELECTRIC PIANO, HARMONIUM; RUTHY UNGAR, VOCALS, FIDDLE; MICHAEL MERENDA, BANJO; CLEM WALDMANN, DRUMS; AMY HELM, VOCALS
Bill Withers writes from the heart and makes you feel loved with his songs. I was so happy when Daniel found this song and shared it with me. We recorded this on the morning of the fourth of July in 2011. Three out of three moms who sang on this recording had a lot of trouble doing so without starting to cry!
7. summer is icumen in
ELIZABETH MITCHELL, VOCALS; NANCY CHUSID, ORFF XYLOPHONE, BASS RECORDER, SOPRANO RECORDER; RUTHY UNGAR, FIDDLE; DANIEL LITTLETON, HARMONIUM, PERCUSSION; STOREY LITTLETON, RODMAN STOUT, JOEY DRISCOLL, AND EMMA LOEWEN, VOCALS
This song, a traditional medieval round, was transcribed in the 13th century by a monk, but we don’t know who the composer was. It is one of the oldest rounds in existence! If the words sound a little funny, it is because they are from an older form of the English language called Middle English. But I think you can still figure out what the song is about – the wild beauty of summertime.
8. rollin’ baby
ELIZABETH MITCHELL, VOCALS, PIANO, KNEE SLAPS AND HAND CLAPS; DANIEL LITTLETON, GUITAR; RUTHY UNGAR, FIDDLE; CLEM WALDMANN, DRUMS; BONNIE MITCHELL, KNEE SLAPS AND HAND CLAPS
Written by our own Aunt Anna and originally recorded on her album The Good Ms. Padgett, this song reminds me of my favorite Woody Guthrie songs for children – playful, sweet, and perfectly capturing the point of view of a little baby in a big city.
9. the little bird
ELIZABETH MITCHELL, VOCALS, GLOCKENSPIEL, PERCUSSION; DANIEL LITTLETON, GUITAR; STOREY LITTLETON, VOCALS; LIBBY CONSTAN, VOCALS
One day many years ago our friend Elliot Bergman, founder of the bands NOMO and Wild Belle, was visiting and we started talking about making music for children. Elliot said, “My mom used to write songs and sing them to me when I was a child; would you want to hear them?” Of course we said yes and were so grateful to learn this lovely song. Storey and her cousin Libby had fun singing call-and-response with me.
10. circle of the sun
ELIZABETH MITCHELL, VOCALS, GLOCKENSPIEL; ANNA PADGETT, VOCALS; DANIEL LITTLETON, VOCALS, GUITAR, ZITHER, DULCIMER, PIANO, HARMONIUM; STOREY LITTLETON, MICHAEL LITTLETON, PENNY LITTLETON, VOCALS; CLEM WALDMANN, DRUMS
We recorded this song as a tribute to Storey’s cousin Destry Sage Stephens-Marner, a beautiful and loving little girl who passed away last summer at the age of four. Destry’s family is part of a tight-knit community in the western slope of colorado, and they have come together to create the Destry Sage Celebration Art Project in her memory. We made this recording of Sally Rogers’s beautiful song to be part of a compilation called take her by the hand. The compilation will help to raise funds for the creation of a celebration life sculpture in Destry’s name in the courtyard of the library in Palisade, Colorado. Family friend Dave Grossman wrote these words of sweet Destry: “(she was) full of ebullient grace, prinkle skies, and vast wonderment…. her lively sense of color, vibrant art, and outfits shamed the rainbows.”
11. moon don’t go
ELIZABETH MITCHELL, VOCALS, PIANO; JANE SCARPANTONI, CELLO; STOREY LITTLETON, SOMTO EJINKONE, KEN EJINKONE, VOCALS AND PERCUSSION
Ella Jenkins is known as the First Lady of Children’s Music. She has been recording with Folkways since 1957, making a diverse array of albums exploring rhythm, call-and-response, songs of the civil rights 25 era, comprehensive international folk traditions, and more. She is an extraordinary songwriter and instrumentalist and can do perfect birdcalls! I am deeply inspired by Ella’s commitment to creating meaningful music with and for children, and I love this mysterious little song.
ELIZABETH MITCHELL, VOCALS; DANIEL LITTLETON, GUITAR, VOCALS; STOREY LITTLETON, VOCALS; KIRSTEN JACOBSON, VOCALS, FLUTE; JANE SCARPANTONI, CELLO; JUSTIN GUIP, DRUMS
This song was written by a man named Van Morrison. He lived in Woodstock, the town where I live now, when he wrote this song. Woodstock is home to many musicians, artists, poets, chipmunks, owls, tree frogs, and winding streams. I can feel the spirit of my town in this song, and it makes me so happy. Thank you, Van!
13. may this be love
ELIZABETH MITCHELL, VOCALS; DANIEL LITTLETON, GUITAR, CYMBAL
Some people might be surprised to learn that Jimi Hendrix wrote such a gentle, comforting song. Daniel thought it would be nice to imagine how Joni Mitchell might arrange this song for guitar. Recently we found out that Jimi Hendrix was, in fact, a big Joni Mitchell fan. One time he came to her show with a big tape machine and asked her if he could record her songs. Of course she said yes!
14. yuki (snow)
ELIZABETH MITCHELL, VOCALS; DANIEL LITTLETON, GUITAR, HARMONIUM; KIRSTEN JACOBSON, FLUTE; NANCY CHUSID, BASS RECORDER; STOREY LITTLETON, VOCALS
Our dear friend Mizuyo Aburano, aka Mimi, taught us this Japanese song when we were looking for a winter song. The second verse, which we don’t sing in English here, is about dogs running around outside happily in the snow, and cats curled up inside by a kotatsu (Japanese heating table). We love this cheerful and sweet song so much that we named our dog Yuki after it!
15. blue sky (little martha intro)
ELIZABETH MITCHELL, VOCALS; DANIEL LITTLETON, VOCALS, GUITAR; AMY HELM, VOCALS
I grew up in the 1970s and spent a lot of time listening to music on the radio in the back of our family station wagon. One of my favorite bands on the radio was the allman brothers. I really loved the harmony in their guitar playing, and the sweet melodies of the songs. I loved their song “ramblin’ Man” – as a child growing up in the suburbs I found that narrative very exciting! And this song always made me feel so good. Here we are joined by our dear friend, Amy Helm.
16. blue clouds
ELIZABETH MITCHELL, VOCALS, GLOCKENSPIEL; DANIEL LITTLETON, VOCALS, GUITAR, HARMONIUM; STOREY LITTLETON, VOCALS; JEAN COOK, VIOLIN
Daniel wrote these words for Storey, many years ago….
Goodnight, my darlin’
Silver moon is on the rise
I love you more than a thousand suns
The morning rain on a butterfly’s wings
Goodnight, my darlin’
Holy river shining bright
Step to the gate, don’t be late
All of your dreams await you
Goodnight, my darlin’
Don’t you worry your head
The blue blue clouds in the golden sky
The jaybird singing with the fireflies
A blanket of stars on the back of your eyes.