So what do you do to entertain an 8-year old for two 8-10 hour car rides? Well, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to build up his music vocabulary with some classics and move him along the right musical path (read: no High School Musical). Learn 'em right.
Therefore, I went for what I considered to be essential, fun, and generally non-offensive material to warp his impressionable mind. Additional criteria: the albums had to be great, and work as driving CDs. Here's what I came up with (in order of how they were loaded into the CD Changer):
1. The Beatles - One. Not my first choice amongst Beatles' albums, but Revolver and Sgt. Pepper's were in Mrs. Snilch Report's car and I (through my wunderkind-like procrastination skills) ran out of time and had to settle for what I had in the house. Every kid should hear The Beatles. It's what I grew up on, and therefore (of course) so should he.
2. Various - Saturday Morning Cartoons' Greatest Hits. This is essential for long car rides, even if kids have no idea about old cartoons. Released in 1995, this comp features grunge/alternative artists covering their favorite cartoon theme songs (or making them up). How can you go wrong with a lineup that includes Liz Phair, Sponge, Helmet, The Ramones, The Reverend Horton Heat, The Violent Femmes, The Murmurs, and Sublime? Some absolutely classic songs here, and it's fun stuff. It certainly amused the adults in the car.
3. Seal - Seal. Stop scoffing. I listened to this album every day my senior year of college, and it's the best Seal album, IMHO. A good driving album and totally appropriate for an 8-year old. Also, a little bit of soul is never a bad thing.
4. Schoolhouse Rock - Grammar Rock. Oh yes. Featuring classics like "Conjunction Junction" and "Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, Get Your Adverbs Here," it's catchy-sounding education at its best. Another go-to disc for the pre-teens.
5. Yes - 90125. It took me until I was 14 to hear this album; I'm just giving my godson a head start. Classic front to back, not a bad song in the bunch. This should be a staple of every child's education. Don't make me call DSS on you, parents.
6. Blondie - Parallel Lines. I immediately conjure images of playing board games, Legos, or Dungeon and Dragons in my best friend Tom McBride's family room. Good times.
7. De La Soul - 3 Feet High and Rising. I'm all about expanding horizons here, and this is perfect for my nephew: clever, smart, and (mostly) inoffensive rap with a very kid-friendly sound. This may still be my brother's favorite album, and I can't argue.
8. Fleetwood Mac - Greatest Hits. 70's/80's pop at its best. Great compilation, except for the inexplicable decision to leave "The Chain" off of this compilation. Are you kidding me? Still a great variety of sounds and voices, which makes for a good car ride album.
9. The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. This album has such a good sound and is so innocent in its musings, I had to put it into the mix. It's like sci-fi indie rock.
10. The Go! Team - Thunder, Lightning, Strike. This album is infectious, catchy, musically smart, and a lot of fun. Great for the kid in the back seat of your car or the kid inside of you. High school cheerleading meets uplifting indie pop rock in the best possible ways.
11. Bob Mould - Workbook. If you didn't foresee some form of Bob Mould coming down the pike on this one, you are not paying attention. This is generally a little low-key and not the best driving disc, but it seemed like the list needed at least one "let's take a timeout/nap" CD, and this fit the bill.
12. My Bloody Valentine - Loveless. I totally punted here. All the U2 albums were in Mrs. Snilch Report's car, but even still, I probably should have at least gone the Pylon route here. Despite that, this is such a great album that you really can't go wrong with it; a little more complex musically than I'd generally prefer to present to a young kid, but that's not the worst thing in the world.
I had a great mix, and was ready to go. The result? My nephew just played his Nintendo DS (and to be perfectly honest, mostly with me) and watched DVDs the entire trip, basically ignoring the music. Obviously, we'll have to ban those for the next trip, depriving him of what he actually enjoys in favor of what I think he should. It's that kind of wisdom that only comes with age.