How Raffi’s Biggest Album Changed Rock and Roll History

'Singable Songs For the Very Young' launched the career of one huge music producer.

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Emma Chao/Fatherly; Getty Images

From the 1980s until today, parents have relied on Raffi for excellent kids’ music that accomplishes two things: Lifts kids up and doesn’t drive the parents nuts. As Fatherly‘s ongoing new podcast Finding Raffi is revealing, the enduring appeal of Raffi isn’t just that his music is made for kids to love, but that the music itself is actually good music. From his origins as a protest singer to writing hits like “Baby Beluga” and “The More We Get Together,” Raffi is just one of the greatest musicians of our time, regardless of the fact that he puts out kids’ tunes. But if you remain unconvinced of Raffi’s crossover musical greatness, check this out: The making of his landmark 1976 album Singable Songs For the Very Young directly launched the career of one of the biggest rock and roll producers ever.

In the 1980s, Daniel Lanois was a collaborator of Brian Eno, which eventually led to him producing the U2 album The Joshua Tree. He also produced the underrated Bob Dylan album Oh Mercy and Neil Young’s Le Noise in 2010. Rolling Stone once called him the most important producer of the 1980s.

So what’s that got to do with Raffi? Well, Lanois, before he became a producer, is the guy who engineered Singable Songs For the Very Young. As Raffi reveals in Episode 3 of Finding Raffii, much of this classic kids’ album was mixed in the basement of Lanois’ mom’s house.

“It was Daniel Lanois’ mother’s home in the basement studio with egg cartons on the ceiling,” Raffi says. “I said to myself, ‘I’m getting my money’s worth here.'”

Had Lanois not collaborated with Raffi at this pivotal point in his early career, it’s very possible that the soundtrack for David Lynch’s Dune would have sounded different, that U2 albums wouldn’t have been amazing, and that Bob Dylan wouldn’t have had a string of solid albums in the ’80s either.

And of course, thanks to the combined early brilliance of Raffi’s working with Lanois, kids, and parents everywhere also go Singable Songs For the Very Young, which remains essential to this day.

Get the full story in Episode 3 of Finding Raffi, which you can check out right here on Spotify on the following podcast platforms.

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