Just Look at You
'After his treasured debut 'I Love to Ride My Bike,' Barnett scores again with this second effort...songs with tuneful empathy, celebrating children as thoughtful, sensitive individuals.' Los Angeles Times, January 6, 2005 Pictured in the photograph on the cover of this CD is my wife Kathryn. I didn't know her as a child but I see in this photograph the person that I know today. In our home we have a wall with a photograph of each of us taken at about 4 or 5 years of age, our three sons and ourselves. When I see a child for a moment, living in that moment, these are the words that my mind says, 'Just look at you.' So often we view childhood as a kind of larval stage of humanhood. We see children as potential adults whose 'real' lives will begin sometime in the future. As a teacher and as a parent I often get caught up in that way of thinking. After all, our job is to help children learn and grow. Each day though there are moments when I see a child for who he/she is, right here and right now, and I rediscover that children are whole and complete just the way they are. Some years ago, at our elementary school, we had a child who had a respiratory disease that would prevent him from reaching adulthood. He spent his days like all the others learning to read and write and playing with friends only he did it with 30 feet of tubing attached to an oxygen tank. He even played kickball. As expected, he didn't make it out of elementary school. He died in the third grade. The experience forced us to reevaluate our role as teachers and our relationship to the students. Although we are preparing children for the future, first we are living life together, today, right here, right now. Just look at you. '381 days' is the length of time the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott lasted. It is a story about courage and perseverance. It is about doing what is right in a world that is wrong. It is both history and metaphor. The law of the land was unjust and Rosa Parks literally wouldn't stand for it. A single act of courageous resistance gave strength to thousands of ordinary people to remain faithful to a collective act of non-violent resistance for over a year. In this song I am just trying to tell the story. When we describe to children the rules of segregation, about drinking fountains, restrooms, playgrounds, and buses, their jaws drop in disbelief. We look back and wonder how people could be so blind to the injustices of their day but, in truth, people will look back at the years in which we live and wonder how we could be so blind to the injustices of our day. This is a story that asks us to open up our eyes. My wife Kathryn, my sister Sue, and I are kindergarten teachers. I wanted them to sing with me on this CD so we could call ourselves 'the three kinders' (like the three tenors). Thanks Sue and Kathryn for singing so beautifully. My son Nicolas and his friend Chris Thompson played baritone horn and trombone on '381 days'. They also sang on that tune as did my nephew Andrew Barnett. Thanks guys. My son Sean and his friend Kevin Horton played bass and drums on 'Hey Daddy,' 'Laughter,' and 'Who do You Listen to.' Thank you, thank you. My friend Jay Stewart (Stewart Music Production Studio - Lake Elsinore, CA) played bass on '381days' and 'I'm so Tired.' Jay also engineered the CD. Thanks Jay. My niece Alyssa Nicola bravely and beautifully sang solo on 'The Sun Shines' and 'Colours.' Wow! Thanks Alyssa. A whole crew of kids showed up at my house one Saturday morning to lend their voices and enthusiasm to the CD. They are: Hailey Barnett, Cameron Barnett, Gracie Barnett, Lucas Barnett, Danielle Oakley, Emily Oakley, Alyssa Nicola, Shelby Schultz, Jami Schultz, Madison DeMott, Savanna Demott, Nicole Olson, Madison Olson, Ashley Thompson, and Danny Thompson. Thanks kids. The picture on the back of the CD was painted by Madison and Nicole's dad Jason Olson. Thanks Jason.