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The Greens

Ed Kohn

Engineered & Mixed by Greg Steele

Polly Bridge Music
P. O. Box 240
Windsor, MA 01270

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Ky Hote
(maestro@jimhancock.com)

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Ed Kohn's The Greens is an album for anyone interested in a kid's experience. To say it deals with the concerns of a child is to anthro-adult-isize it. His songs are written from the world view of a growing-learning-feeling human about ten years old. The subjects range from the ridiculous (Poodle) and sensitive (All Your Fault) to the educational (Sun Shine) and esoteric (Johnny Appleseed). The musicianship of the songs is well-matured and professional, while still adhering to principles most attractive to kids, namely rhythm and simplicity. The family band accompanies the songs well with Ben Kohn on keyboard and Ethan Kohn on electric guitar, giving it a tastefully sparse, bluesy feel to the production.

The Greens, the album's title and opening track, led to me to expect ecological paradigms, but instead it is a frog's blues.

I love the murky water
And the swamp scum and the logs
And I love the sound of peepers
But I hate those polliwogs
I got the greens
And I got 'em bad...

Six, the third cut is probably the most fascinating insight into mathematics since Tom Lehrer's New Math. The chorus of the song,

How do you do that in your head....
You must be a mathematician
admires the singer that answers all of the math problems posed by the song. But, though I won't give it away here, the answers are all the same, it's just the questions that change.

What do you get when you add three and three?
I believe the answer is...
And 48 divided by twelve plus two?
I believe the answer is...
The cube root of 512 times 9 divided by the square root of 144?
I believe the answer is...
You'll have to buy the tape or figure out the answer yourself.

More instructive is Nature's Cool, a bluesy A-minor riff (ala Hit the Road, Jack) that talks about the most bizarre and amazing characters, all found in the great wilds of nature:

And the margay, a cat that lives in the trees
Can run up them as quickly as down
And it can change directions in the middle
Just by turning its ankles around
Nature's cool, nature's cool
It don't know nothing but still it ain't no fool
Nature's cool, Nature's cool
It just naturally knows how to live by the rules

While The Greens is a fairly silly point-of-view of a frog, Roll Over could be a dog's rights anthem. It accurately implies that many dog owners expect their dog to roll over, shake and fetch as they desire, instead of "asking them about God" or other intellectual perspectives they might have.

'Here's your dog food, yummy chunks that taste like meat'
Who are they kidding, It tastes like soybeans mixed with wheat
They think I'm stupid, or that I simply have no taste
I've eaten garbage, I can't believe the food they waste.

Also worth noting is Dentist, which asks the musical question, "Why do they always try to talk to you after they stick stuff in your mouth?"

The Greens is not filled with sing-along songs that you learn instantly, but it ranks Ed Kohn with such artists as Peter Alsop and Si Kahn for writing music that neither patronizes or politicizes kids, but instead speaks to the tenacity, the excitement and the wonder of growing up.

Tracks: All songs by Ed Kohn
  • The Greens
  • Johnny Appleseed
  • Six
  • Nature's Cool
  • All Your Fault
  • Dentist
  • Roll Over
  • Poodle
  • Sun Shine
  • Wanna Grow Up
Edited by David Schultz
(schultz@alum.mit.edu)

Copyright 1997, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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