Two of Nashville’s top songwriter/producers have spent their pandemic downtime creating music for a different audience than their usual country constituents —children.
Grammy-winner Daniel Tashian, best known for his work with Kacey Musgraves and Brett Eldredge, released Mr. Moonlight on June 5 through Big Yellow Dog Music. It follows his Grammy-nominated 2019 children’s album, I Love Rainy Days.
Both projects rely on the singing and writing talents of their kids—Tashian’s three daughters, Tinkerbell (8) and twins Tigerlily and Matilda (6)—and Laird’s two sons, Jake (6) and Mack (4). The latter also includes the participation of Laird’s wife, Creative Nation publishing maven Beth Laird, who put out the project via CN Records.
The sets also share that they were recorded quickly and somewhat on a whim, after the dads began sheltering in place 24/7 with their offspring.
Laird and his sons first wrote “Rock, Worms, Dirt,” a spoken-word track about “gotta get up out of here before we lose our minds/ we best step outside feel the sunshine” and what you may find outside (centipedes!). “When “Rocks, Worms, Dirt” was finished, we were blasting it in the kitchen,” Laird says. “Beth said to me, ‘You should write a few more and we’ll put it out.’ That was all the inspiration I needed and I obviously had a lot more time on my hands.”
Many of The Cool Chips songs draw from other daily experiences in the Laird household, including the self-explanatory, “Shooting Hoops,” “Don’t Be Mean, Be Nice,” and “I Don’t Wanna Brush My Teeth.”
Tashian admits that his inspiration came from “being bored in the house, in the house bored.” Like Laird, his children had a major hand in the songs’ creations. “They wrote most of the lyrics and helped figure out what the songs should be about,” he says. “It’s funny because without them there wouldn’t be an album at all. They know it!”
Among the topics on his daughters’ minds were designing their dream home on “If I Built a House,” the sweet “How Old Should I Be” and “Clouds,” a jaunty ode to watching clouds go by.
Recording with sometimes temperamental artists didn’t come without some setbacks. “We did have to bribe them a few times with ice cream cones to get one more vocal take,” Laird says.
Tashian would have to wait until his kids were in the mood to record in his makeshift studio in his closet. “The hardest part is that kids don’t want to be told to do anything. If I needed them to sing I sort of had to wait until it was their idea,” he says. “Doing things with children is its own joy, and their enthusiasm is very quick sometimes. They can be wildly enthusiastic for about 10 minutes, then they want to do something else and be equally enthusiastic about that.”
Tracks from both digital releases are picking up traction on playlists. Songs from The Cool Chips are on a number of Spotify playlists, including Toddler Tunes, Your Daily Routine, Music for American Kids and Mad Scientist, while tunes from Mr. Moonlight are on Apple Music’s Kids’ Road Trip and Kids & Family playlists, as well as Pandora’s New Kids’ Music Now and Spotify’s Kindie and Toe-Tapping Folk.
While the albums are free to stream, Cool Chips t-shirts are for sale with all proceeds going to Preston Taylor Ministries.
For both Laird and Tashian, the recordings will serve as a reminder of a happy time that came out of this difficult period…and will provide fodder for embarrassing their kids for years to come. As Laird says, “Beth and I love that it’s such a time stamp of where we are in our lives.”