The Golden Age of Children’s Music

Peter Pan Singers and Orchestra was prefab group that recorded children’s songs. I had a number of their records as a child and also they were played at my preschool during art and fun times. It’s very hard to find out anything about them because nothing is listed online.

Peter Pan Singers and Orchestra will probably never get a day in the sun or to be digitally released. Part of the issue is there may not be anyone alive to claim and sell the rights to iTunes or other platforms. So the names of the people who sang on the records will never be known.

I did find “Peter Pan Records”, but its not the same as Peter Pan Singers and Orchestra. Peter Pan Records claims (from a dubious website) to be created by a plastics firm, and then someone (probably the website owner) used that website as a reference to create a Wikipedia entry for Peter Pan Records. I don’t have an evidence that Peter Pan Records ever existed in the past. I think its a scam. I am going to need some evidence like seeing some older records with the name Peter Pan Records on the label if I was going to believe it. I looked again for records with the name Peter Pan Records and I found what could be a book with the Peter Pan Logo. I found no records with the Peter Pan Logo. I think this person took the original Peter Pan Logo and added the word records underneath the Logo. Why would someone do this? And make up a whole fake back story to the records complete with fake people’s names? Apparently this kind of thing is more common then you think. Once a fake website is set up the scammer creates a Wikipedia page. The Wikipedia page has references, but they are also fake. Once followed up they are deleted or missing.  If the references exist they tell some other information about something related to the topic.  Data website aggregators collect that data and put it into other websites. Pretty soon it looks like there are many sources for Peter Pan Records, but they just complied data from Wikipedia. There are so many Wikipedia like clones that just scooped up data from Wikipedia. This is a whole separate entry on other blog I wrote. But it does not really matter so much, I just wonder why someone would do this and what is the point of it?

I can still find random LP’s of the Peter Pan Singers and Orchestra on places like eBay, but its not very satisfying to own LP records unless you are into vinyl records as a hobby. You need a good stereo with a good needle or you will ruin the records over time with an old worn needle. You should transfer the LPs to digital formats so you can replay the songs without damage. Record Players and Stereos are too much work to deal with. Listening to music is fun. Caring for vinyl record is work, and storing records is difficult as almost, everyone expect for millionaires, has limited storage space.

My favorite record Peter Pan Orchestra Record was an album called Puff The Magic Dragon a which had the following songs: These songs were little morality tales for children based on animals

Puff The Magic Dragon ( similar to the Peter Pan and Mary version)

What’s In An Elephant’s Trunk ( a fun song that has male and female vocals and features a horn) (lyrics: Various kind of Elephant Junk, that what in the Elephant’s Trunk) (play on words as if the trunk is actually a chest or packing trunk that people used to store items in, made of wood)

The Lion with the Mangy Mane (This song was not very good, and I guess I did not play it very much, therefore I don’t remember it.)

Jerry the Giraffe (song features male and female vocals) (Some of the strange lyrics “When Jerry’s throat is sore, they feed him cough drops by the score! More and More and More for Jerry the Big Giraffe. ) (This song reminds me of Jerry Seinfeld now.)

The Grumpy Old Crocodile (lyrics: The grumpy old Crocodile is grumpy tonight. He’s growling and snapping left and right. He’s used all his medicine and what do you suppose, his poor old back is aching from his tail to his nose.) (Song is actually about a grumpy old man with arthritis, but projected upon a Crocodile.)

Chip the Chimpanzee (lyrics: Happy because he’s free)

Hippi and Lippi (I don’t remember his one, I think it was about hippos clearly from the title)

Lenny the Leopard (song about a high school drop out) (Lyrics: As years go by he’s going to learn his fate and want to go to school so he can graduate, but you’ll find out that is too late for Lenny the Leopard.) (Not the message that we want to tell children, normally child’s songs are optimistic. )

The Mean Old Grizzly Bear (Lyrics: The Mean Old Grizzly Bear got meaner everyday…. He was ashamed to be seen. That’s what he got for being mean.) But in this song the Bear over comes his problems and becomes young and happy again. More lyrics for this song at the end of this blog post.

Tippy the Tiger ( I found some lyrics online: Little Tippy learned a lesson Now you can start to betting that not soon will he begin forgetting Tippy the tiger After she had done her tiger thanking Little Tippy got a tiger spanking) (another morality tale and this one I did not like very much)

Zebra Stripes (Lyrics: thou a donkey’s about his size, he don’t have donkey ears or eyes the thing that makes him such a prize, Zebra Stripes)

After doing a lot of looking I found these animals songs on several different labels and records and albums from about the early 60 to as late as the 80’s. The challenge is to find a copy in good shape that I could transfer. At one point someone uploaded all of these songs to You Tube, but they have since been removed. Its not even possible to tell who or what group original recorded them or in what year or on which label.

Rocking Horse Players are sometimes mistaken for the Peter Pan Players or Singers. This seems to be due that the animal songs were recycled over and over into different records with different names. The single 45 Puff The Magic Dragon is confused with the LP on Amazon. I think later on they added the Puff the Magic Dragon Song to make the album in the 80s which was after my childhood. I have seen some copies of the Puff The Magic Dragon Album dated as a late as 1988. I don’t think Puff the Magic Dragon was on the album that I had. It was played for me, but the Peter Paul and Mary Version. All the teachers seemed to think this was a great song for kids, but I did not care for any of the versions. The song is depressing, unless one views it as merely a marijuana  reference. The boy dies and his pet dragon falls into a great depression.

Speaking of drug references for children Toot and Puff was a record of mostly train songs. The teachers at my hippy school were all like under 25 years old and left unsupervised.  They thought it was hilarious to play drug reference music for the children. I could see they found it funny and I struggled to understand the jokes. There was one song I was even taught about heroin. I knew what it was at the time, and they were not pulling a fast one on me. We had music played for us and then we also had to have circle time and sing folk songs. The songs were sometimes written by the teachers as likely many of them were frustrated folk singers.  In the early 70’s having a guitar and being able to play it was considered to be very important. Later on electronic music and disco became popular and caused the imagine of someone just bringing a guitar and singing folk songs less popular. We had a piano at the school, but I don’t remember if any of the teachers could play it. None of us could play the piano, but some of the children learned to play chop sticks. The piano was brown and old and out of tune. Likely someone donated it to the school.

The children’s records in the 70’s were often created around a theme, such as military songs, working songs, animals songs or holiday songs. I had an entire record of Easter Songs called a Golden Easter which I was able to buy digitally. I had a record by Percival Dove Orchestra which was songs that are played by brass bands.

Percival Dove had a very distinctive Bass Voice.  You can heard a sample of how he sounded on Apple Music or on Spotify.

The thing that made these songs better then what they now call Children’s Music is they actually put work and money into creating these songs and hired great singers and musicians to write and record original music. Most of the kids music that is heard now runs along the lines of they get the rights to a something like Beatles Hits and hire children to sing the songs. They sound like bad karaoke and they call them kids songs. They record them very quickly with poor sound quality and little work time and effort to create inferior versions of popular songs sung by children. If the songs have clean lyrics children would rather hear the original songs. An Italian tradition says that you don’t allow children to play with ugly toys or listen to bad music or eat poor quality “kid friendly foods” that are in fact unhealthy like hot dogs and chips.

When the new Japan Town opened it San Francisco my mother got me a children’s record in Japanese which I really loved, but I can’t name any of the songs. They were all in Japanese. The writing on the cover was also in Japanese characters. The title in English was something like songs for children. I played it again again and I would pretend I could understand the songs by making up what I thought the songs could mean if they were in English. For example one song I thought was about a girl bringing tea to her father. She was serving him tea or calling him to come and have tea. I really wish they had not all been thrown away, but my mother liked to clean the house and discard many things to make it look neater. My mother was Marie Kondo before Marie Kondo. I will never be able to find that record again. Although I remember the songs I can’t come up with any Japanese words that I could use to hunt for them online.

The Mean Old Grizzly Bear lyrics:

The mean old grizzly bear
Was mean as he could be
The mean old grizzly bear
Was mean from A to Z
So he lost his claws in all of his paws
He lost his teeth in both of his jaws
No claws in his paws, no teeth in his jaws
And his color turned to green
That’s what he got for being mean
The mean old grizzly bear
Got meaner every day
The mean old grizzly bear
Got meaner in every way
So he lost the hair on his chinny chin chin
His chest was bare and his belly caved in
No hair on his chin, his belly caved in
He was ashamed to be seen
That’s what he got for being mean
The mean old grizzly bear
Decided to change his ways
And he was oh so good
For days and days and days
He grew new claws in all of his paws
He grew new teeth in both of his jaws
New claws in his paws
New teeth in his jaws
And his color is what it was before
And he isn’t mean any more

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