One Grandmother’s Quest to Send an Odyssey Recording to her Grandchildren

An email to Odds Bodkin’s Shop from this morning, April 24th:

Hope you can help me. I ordered The Odyssey Collection as a gift for my grandchildren but did not realize I had no way to send them the link and think somehow it is now in my email only. At this point I don’t remember my original password since I forwarded the email from you acknowledging my order to my daughter who could not download the stories because I did not have the password. When I went to password reset I was also unable to change the password.

So, if it is possible to send this gift to my daughter who can then set up whatever password she wants to use so these darling 9 and 10 year old grandchildren who are at the moment captivated by Homer can hear your wonderful music and voice, I would be grateful.

Please advise.
M*** C*** P*****

Odds Bodkin’s Shop replies:

Dear M***

If you can send us your daughter’s email address, we will send her a digital gift card
usable at our shop for $49.95. She can visit the shop, follow the directions and download
The Odyssey using her own email. She pays at checkout using the code on the
gift card.

We look forward to hearing back from you.

Thanks for your order, too, of course.

Best regards,

ODDS BODKIN CUSTOMER SERVICE

 

M*** C*** P***** replies:

You have given me a success in my Stay-At-Home week for which I am very appreciative. Thank you. Know this little family will be ever so happy listening together and hope they will continue to be Odds Bodkin fans for their lifetimes. The power of great literature well read and good music well played are a rare but winning combination.

My daughter, M*** C**** E********’s email address is *************@bellsouth.net

Hope you have a good day today and stay healthy.
M*** C*** P*****

 

GIFT CARD SENT. QUEST OVER.

YOU SAVED US FROM BABY BELUGA

YOU SAVED US FROM BABY BELUGA

Sunday night I was down in Cambridge at Grendel’s Den warming up my harp and 12-string onstage for a telling of Beowulf when a tall gentleman with silver hair came over, looking somewhat shy. The place was full and new faces were in the audience. Along with the usual crew of fine fans, Harvard students and curious twenty-somethings, I’d noticed husbands and wives in their fifties or early sixties at the tables. Obviously this gentleman had something to say. I stopped playing and smiled at him.

“Am I interrupting you?” he asked. He was fit and had a nice smile.

“No, not at all. I’m just warming up. Good evening.”

“Good evening,” he replied and we shook hands.

“I just wanted to tell you, Mr. Bodkin, that you saved us from Baby Beluga,” he said in a sort of admiring seriousness. It didn’t take too long for me to process that, and so I smiled wryly and chuckled, suspecting I knew what he was saying. He went on. “My kids are in their thirties now and are jealous they can’t be here.”

“Why, thank you.” I’ve had similar conversations with other nice people like him.

“No, thank you,” he said.Your stories got us through a lot of long trips when our kids were little. We had all your cassettes. Got them from Chinaberry Book Service.”

I used to do business with Chinaberry, a kids’ media operation out in California. Sold tens of thousands of recordings through them. This nice man’s wife, probably, had bought them, back when their kids were little. “Ah, yes,” I replied. “I’m glad your kids liked them. Tonight’s story is very different from those children’s recordings.”

“I expect so.”

“This one’s rather bloody,” I replied, thinking how in The Evergreens: Gentle Tales of Nature and The Teacup Fairy, some of my earliest kids’ albums, there is no blood.

“Can’t wait to hear it,” he said, sounding ready for some Viking wildness.

“Well,” I said, hitting a chord on the 12-string, “enjoy the show.”

“We will.” He returned to his seat at the bar next to a woman about his age. His wife, I assumed. The mother of the children he spoke of.

Baby Beluga! Baby Beluga!

The refrain from the song by Raffi echoed in my mind. I once met him, the man who wrote and sang that classic children’s song. A troubador from the Nineties, Raffi’s most famous song was Baby Beluga. He was the best-known of many musicians for young kids back then, a man who sang sweet, reassuring songs. I think of him as the Mr. Rogers of children’s music.

Back then I was selling recordings for young kids, too. Raffi always outsold anything I ever did, but then again, I wasn’t singing songs, which had a huge kids market before the advent of cellphones and iPad games. Instead I was telling stories, but even though they were for young children, they weren’t kiddie stories per se––stories about puppies and baby hedgehogs and so on. Nevertheless, lots of young children, including this gentleman’s who’d come up to say hello, apparently, had listened to them and had talked about them with their parents. I always tried to produce children’s media that didn’t make moms and dads lose their minds while listening to them, over and over again in their cars.

After the show I posed for photos with the man and his wife, along with a few other couples who proceeded to buy EPIC DRIVES. They wanted to send them to their grown children, they said, who now had kids of their own. Two young women in their twenties had listened to the Little Proto stories and loved them. A couple with their kids kept talking about The Blossom Tree, a Tibetan tale I tell, and I mentioned how I’ll be performing it in May as part of a weekend dedicated to the magic of trees, out in Colorado.

And so these stories I made a generation ago continue to make their way into the lives of a new generation, accomplishing a goal I always strove for: to make something that doesn’t quickly become marked as genre material of a former time.

I recommend Baby Baluga, too.

The Most Astonishing, Smart and Beautiful Letter I’ve Ever Received from a Mother

This post came in yesterday on Facebook from Valorie Gamer Osterman.

Thanks, Valorie!

 

Dear Odds,

Forgive me while I faint. My daughter is home visiting, and I just told her you had written me. The house is ringing with her squeals of joy! We are a family who treats you as a rock star, stalking your schedule, pouncing upon new recordings, and checking the internet for news of you. Living in Seattle, we lived too far away to enjoy a live performance but now my eldest is at Eastman School of Music so once again, we are stalking your schedule to make it to a live performance.

I did not write the article but feel free to quote my comments about it. The article was written by Diane Levin of Wheelock College in Boston.

Music is important but humans fought to speak for a reason. Music may move the soul but stories create and shape the soul. Music moves the emotions but stories help us understand them. Storytelling is a rare skill these days with so much TV and radio being formulaic rather than original. Finding those who can still tell a story is a rare find. Finding those who can tell a good story AND make great music is priceless!

You are, indeed, an enduring legacy in my household. “Drip, drip, drip” is often used as the punchline in a family story to denote that it is one to remember and share. In the transition from audio cassette to CD, we had to forgo many of the stories because I could no longer find copies. When my then 16-year-old daughter saw a tape-to-mp3 converter, her first thought was to find your old stories so we could listen again. When I saw you were going to debut “Beowulf” on the East Coast, I encouraged all my NY/MA friends to come but when I said I was going to buy a copy, my kids insisted I had to wait until Christmas so we could all listen together. My eldest will be 25 so I think that means we’ve been listening to you for 22 years at this point!

We are a very plugged-in family and never far from electronics and screens. I credit our car rides filled with stories from you and Jim French Productions for a large reason why my kids never turned on their walkmans/ipods/laptops in the car. It wasn’t just the stories, it was the situations and characters you brought to life. Unlike most music, the stories you tell invite conversation, discussion, and analysis so as we drove from school to sports to drama to dinner to dance and finally home, we listened and, more importantly, we talked. As the kids got into the car, I’d ask “Talk, stories, or music?” If a kid had a long day, a few stories would rejuvenate them and they’d start to tell me about their day.

It’s those conversations that were the play in their minds. Not only did the stories engage their minds in ways books and screens didn’t, they presented the option of stopping the story, talking about some aspect of it – often in the context of something they’d learned or were experiencing – and then listening to the rest of the story. Given the wide range of stories you tell, we could always find connections between what was going on in our lives with some character or situation in one of your stories. Sometimes when a kid was wrestling with something, they’d pick a story they wanted to hear, stop the story somewhere, then talk about what was bothering them.

So, thank you. Thank you for years of stories and coming back to give us new ones. Thank you for writing about tough topics but remembering that humor is important, too. Thank you for being someone my kids could use to help explain the world but never told them what to think. Thank you for talking about doing the right thing, even if it is hard, but never beating anyone over the head with the morality. Most importantly, thank you for providing a role model for my kids that storytelling is just as important today in our era of smart screens as it was when we lived in caves. At one point when one of my kids and I were just irritated with each other, they suggested we go for a car ride and listen to some stories. An hour later, we came back talking again and laughing.

Mission accomplished, sir. Mission accomplished.

Sincerely,
Valorie
————

Artist’s Note: Valorie proceeded to purchase a $99 All Collections Bundle at our download store. Bless her heart. I hope to meet her someday. And her kids.