Thank You, Mister Rogers: Music and Memories
Music—comforting, reassuring, and specific to the concerns and anxieties of young children—was a staple of Mister Rogers Neighborhood. The deceptively simple songs were written and performed on the show by Fred Rogers, who not everyone knows was an accomplished musician (and who met his wife, Joanne, at the conservatory where they both studied). In this fine tribute album, award-winning artists offer a treasure trove of well-matched interpretations of several of Fred Rogers’ child-affirming songs, arranged with care by Dennis Scott. In the first track, the smooth, signature harmonies of 1960s pop group the Cowsills perfectly complement “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” Actress-singer Rita Wilson (whose husband, Tom Hanks portrayed Fred in the 2019 film, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”) delivers a thoroughly lovely rendition of “Sometimes People Are Good,” and Vanessa Williams’ oh-so-tender “Many Ways to Say I Love You” is deeply moving. Among the several other artists featured: Micky Dolenz of Monkees fame (“It’s a Perfectly Beautiful Day”), Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. (“Let’s Be Together Today”), Kellie Pickler (“It’s Such a Good Feeling”), and Grammy-winning, Latin crossover artist Jon Secada singing “Podemos Ser Amigos?” The album ends with the ensemble performing “Thank You for Being You,” an original song very much in the Fred Rogers vein, written by Scott as a touching appreciation for what Rogers meant, and still means, to so many: “Thank you for helping us stand on our own/ thank you for bringing the world to our home/…thank you for being you.”
Lynne Heffley ©2020 Parents’ Choice
A freelance writer and editor for the arts and non-profit organizations, Lynne is a former staff writer for the Los Angeles Times, where she established the paper’s first weekly children’s arts and entertainment beat.