Recording Review

Grandma Lawson Presents: Imagine With Me!
Ocilla Lawson, Writer

Format: cassette

Reviewed by Second Grade Students Luhr Elementary School Moderated (more or less) by Jean Metcalfe

Ocilla Lawson loves children. Children love Ocilla Lawson. Ocilla Lawson is a songwriter. Voila! "Grandma Lawson Presents: Imagine With Me!"

Several of the second-grade students in Diane Johnson's music class at Luhr Elementary School thought the songs on Imagine were too childish for them. But several of them disagreed.

Perhaps Stacy Emmitt represented the former group when she said of the title cut, "That song was too babyish." Eight-year-old Nathan Hart agreed with Stacy. Lori Todd thought it was funny, but felt her four-year-old cousin Kitty would like it. Jennifer Pierce thought "Imagine With Me" was "weird."

LeCurtis Pennington defended the song, saying he thought it was funny and that he loved it. Leaving no room for rebuttal, he declared that he liked it better than anyone else in his class. That brought gales of laughter. (I am assuming that he meant he liked the song better than the other students liked it, rather than that he liked the song more than he liked his classmates.)

Kristin Green thought it was pretty fast. She likes both fast and slow songs. Heather Rutledge described "Imagine" as "loving."

The children got into the swing of the second cut on the album, "Sweetie Rabbit." They kept time by nodding their heads, and couldn't wait to comment on the brief, upbeat song. Rebecca Eubank thought the music was pretty. Christopher Hendricks said that the music was fast and that he likes fast music. Matt Spalding labeled the rabbit song "silly," explaining that it was too young for second graders. Jeremy Thomas agreed with Matt.

Stacy said, "It sounds like Easter and it's lovely." Kristin thought it was "a pretty song and it goes real well (for Easter)." Nathan said the song "had too much Hawaiian in it." (A few giggles.) LeCurtis thought it was a fun song for Easter, and Jennifer agreed. Patrick Cady thought it was "funny." Lori Todd described it as "kinda silly and goofy." (And furthermore she didn't think her four-year-old cousin Kitty would like it.) Adam Foster thought it was "a real good song."

"I Got Pockets," a lively tune which this writer thought was very clever and imaginative, got mixed reactions from the second graders. They really enjoyed the song and listened enthusiastically as I played it. (Isn't the second grade when youngsters start to label lots of things as "too babyish" for them?)

Rebecca thought it was "silly and weird," while Jennifer thought it was "funny." Kristin said it was "quite nice" and Stacy thought it was "funny 'cause me and Jennifer were dancing to it." (She proudly related that she was eight years old, going on nine.) LeCurtis thought it was "too funny," singling out the part about there being a frog in the pocket.

Rebecca thought the line about the bubble gum having been behind the singer's ear was especially funny. Heather was amused by the "part when he put the insect in his pocket." Matt liked "the part where it said that he had a big hole in his pocket." Christopher thought the "Pockets" song was "real excellent." I noticed some finger snapping during "Pockets."

The children were immediately caught up in the mood of "Snowflakes Snowflakes," and I noticed most of the children getting involved with the song. One or two children made motions that suggested snow falling and most sang along when the title was repeated several times in the song.

Kristin thought it was "nice" but Christopher didn't care much for it. Jennifer thought it was "very nice." Kristen described it as "soft and gentle," then sang the title part in a soft and gentle manner. LeCurtis was reminded of Christmas and Santa Claus and, naturally, he enjoyed the song.

Stacy liked it when it said "snowflakes, snowflakes," and said it was "excellent." The children agreed that they could almost see the snowflakes come down as they listened. Christopher was reminded of "this Christmas that I had this year." (I could still hear a couple of children singing 'snowflakes, snowflakes' as I was starting to play the next song.)

"You should see the snowman my grandma helped me make," led off "Our Snowman." The song describes an actual snowman that the writer had helped her grandson make. In order to be original they had built the snowman upside down. "It's standing on its head, a look of surprise on its face."

It was a fun and upbeat song. Heather suggested that "you should think about it a little bit." The students liked the idea of the snowman standing on his head. Lori thought the song was good, Rebecca thought "the music was beautiful" and Christopher thought it was "real good."

Time considerations caused us to move along at a faster pace than the children wanted. I didn't notice anyone not enjoying the songs, the several protests of "babyish" notwithstanding. The brief class time remaining for the "reviewers" to consider the final three cuts on the album, "Little White Tooth," "Toy Airplane" and "My Little Teddy Bear," did not allow for much comment. I did notice some clapping of hands while "Tooth" was being played.

Favorite songs mentioned after the album had finished playing were "Teddy Bear" (It was the final song; did that play a part, I wondered.) "Snowflakes" and "Little White Tooth."

My distinct impressions of the "review session" were that "Snowflakes" captivated the children and that they got a kick out of the lyrics of "I Got Pockets."

A hasty show of hands, just before the bell signaled the end of the class, revealed that about half of the students rated the tape "very good," and only a few declared it "not so good" and/or "babyish." I certainly got the impression that they preferred listening to "Imagine With Me" to having a regular music class.

Imagine is a fine collection of well-written songs for children. An adult might find a few faults if judged by adult standards of song critique. But the true measure of Imagine With Me! would have to be how well children like the songs.

I would have to agree that the album would be best appreciated by younger children, probably because at age "eight-going-on-nine" the young ladies and gentlemen are probably paying a lot of attention to Michael Jackson and New Kids On the Block. At any rate, they certainly seemed to want to participate, and their enjoyment of several numbers was very evident.

If I were a grandmother with young grandchildren I would buy them the album ... even if they were in the second grade and "going on nine."

Imagine With Me! was recorded at Allen-Martin Productions in Louisville, with J.D. Miller on the Synclavier. Vocals were provided by Kay Roebuck, Janeil Owen and Latham Wilson. All songs were written by Ocilla Lawson. Color it "well done."

Further information may be had by contacting Ocilla Lawson, 8004 Huntsman Trail, Louisville, KY 40291; (502) 239-9044.

Special thanks to Ms. Diane Johnson and her second-grade music class at Luhr Elementary School for their cooperation. It was a joy to be with them.