A Parent's Home Companion

Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer

(Rounder 8031)

A Review for The Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange
by Judi Green

This album of humorous songs sung by Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer is for the parents of their usual audience. It will help any parent or other caregiver laugh through the minor crises of childrearing.

The songs range from "The Instruction Manual" for the newest parents to "A Chat with Your Mother (The F-Word Song)" and "The Therapy Fund" for those at the other end of the active parenting years. The most successful songs (i.e., made me laugh out loud) are two by Lou and Peter Berryman. The first, "Orange Cocoa Cake," is a hilarious rendition of one end of a phone call between friends, with lines of an actual recipe increasingly interspersed with responses to three active, hungry little kids. The other called "A Chat with Your Mother," is sometimes known as "The F-Word Song," being filled with amusingly colorful images of those who Mom would expect to use the F-Word ("pirates with their fetid galleons, daggers in their skivvies," " the militant survivalist with Gucci bandolero," and "unsavory musicians with their filthy pinko lyrics"). "The Therapy Fund" (written by Cathy Fink) provides the solution to the inevitable failures of parenting ("Your Dad and I are happy and that left you with some doubts, With your friends' dysfunctional families you were feeling quite left out")...and models resistance to parental guilt ("You're 21, it's up to you, To fix what's broken, we love you").

"Are We There Yet?" (written by Cathy) is a catchy tune suitable for singing in the car on short trips and long ("Are we there yet? No, this is a red light") while "Daughters of Feminists" (by Nancy White) speaks to one of life's little mysteries ("How do they get so girly? How come they want a Barbie?").

The remaining songs on the album are by Cathy: "Everybody's Doin' It," "That's My Boy" (mine when he's good, yours when he's not) and "Dear Mom" (sweetly serious); and by the Berrymans: "It's Better Than That" (every kid's fantasy of the freedoms of adulthood).

Marcy's voice is sweet and smooth, while Cathy's more acerbic approach provides some "edge." Arrangements are spare and simple, but with a diversity of instruments on different songs: guitar, banjo, mandolin, drums, piano, bass, and even electric guitar. The songs are tuneful, and I soon found myself singing along on the choruses.

This is a satisfying novelty album. Its humor is solidly grounded in the reality of living with kids--a real achievement for two women who have none of their own, according to the liner notes. This disc would make a perfect gift for anyone in need of some lightening of the parental load, that is, anyone with a child at home!

This review is copyright, 1995 by Three Rivers Folklife Society
. It may be reprinted with prior written permission and attribution.

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