Old Enough To Know Better: The Worst of Barry Louis Polisar

Old Enough To Know Better

Barry Louis Polisar
$14.95, 2-CDs
ISBN 0938663-42-9

"Barry Louis Polisar's children's recordings have become a standard: well-loved by a couple of generations of youngsters since he began recording in the 1970's. Many of Polisar's songs were not to his own liking, and inspired by his own lectures to school children about the writing process, he re-wrote the songs and recorded them on this album. Kids will definitely giggle when listening and parents who listened to Polisar as children are likely to want to share the laughter with their own youngsters. Polisar's 30-year-old recycling is a brave idea that works!"
– School Library Journal

"Polisar's "worst" sounds pretty good. Kudos to a trouper who knows the heart of a child and how to set a perfect beat to tunes that we all can identify with."
National Association of Parenting Awards

"Filled with comic rebellion and mixed with an innate understanding of childhood, this album is sure to please today's children."
– Georgia Family Magazine

"Barry Louis Polisar is still outstanding. If Raffi can be called the Bob Dylan of children's music, then I'll compare Barry Louis Polisar to the rougher, edgier Phil Ochs, with an added sense of comic anarchy that appeals to anyone's sense of fun. It is no insult to say that Barry Louis Polisar has the mind of a child...goofy songs that resonate with real kids."
– Kathy O'Connell, host of WXPN Radio's Kids Corner

"Barry Louis Polisar at his best. These songs and poems are well-targeted to a range of young listeners and presented with one of the most expressive voices in the genre. His spirit of fun is conveyed through a voice that can be zany, high, silly, low, exaggerated, serious, ironic, grave or in put-on versions of almost any voice you can imagine. Poems are so well coordinated with accompaniment that at first you may not realize that Polisar is reading, not singing and arrangements are varied, tight and beautifully supplied."
– Sing Out Magazine, Summer, 2006

"Fresh and fun for a new generation...there are a couple of hours of quality here."
– Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah

"Round up the kids but if you think it'll just be them laughing, guess again because it just may be the adults whose voice you'll be hearing a lot of...nutty, goofy, kid and adult friendly."
– Celebrity Cafe Reviews

"It's the best of the worst and who can resist...your kids won't be able to."
– Washington Parent Magazine

"Barry Louis Polisar is a kids music legend. Kids will laugh with delight at his least favorite songs"
– Newsday's Parent & Children Magazine, Long Island, New York

Most people do a "Greatest Hits" album after thirty years, but Barry thought he'd try something different. He took his least favorite songs from his 1970s-era albums and reworked them into brand new songs. His daughter helped edit many of the lyrics and his son joined him in the studio, playing saxophone and clarinet. The result is this two-CD compilation.

Why a double CD for kids? Polisar answers: "I just had so many bad songs!" So here they are...Barry Louis Polisar's worst songs...but with a brand new twist!

Read Full Reviews

"Gr 1-5-Barry Louis Polisar's children's recordings have become a standard: well-loved by a couple of generations of youngsters since he began recording in the 1970's. Many of Polisar's songs were not to his own liking, and inspired by his own lectures to school children about the writing process, he re-wrote the songs and recorded them on this album. Polisar markets these as his "worst songs with a brand new twist. With forty different songs and poems, there's something for everyone to dislike!" Kids will definitely giggle when listening to songs like "Shut Up in the Library," "Stanley Stole My Shoelace and Rubbed It in His Armpit," and "When Suzie Sneezed."Parents who listened to Polisar as children are likely to want to share the laughter with their own youngsters. Polisar's 30-year-old recycling is a brave idea that works!"
– School Library Journal


"Devotees of children's music not familiar with Barry Louis Polisar will find this two-CD release a fine introduction. These songs and poems are well-targeted to a range of young listeners and presented with one of the most expressive voices in the genre. His spirit of fun is conveyed through a voice that can be zany, high, silly, low, exaggerated, serious, ironic, grave or in put-on versions of almost any voice you can imagine. This album is a rare exercise of creative recycling--a collection of Polisar's "least favorite" songs from older albums, many dating back to the mid 70's. They are performed here in versions revised in collaboration with his daughter, Sierra. 

Polisar's topics range from conventional wisdom (in favor of diversity "That's What Makes the World Go 'Round") to irony ("One Big Happy Family") to contrarian irony (warning against reading in "The Accident"), to contrarian wisdom (favoring the grasshopper in "The Ant and the Grasshopper" story) to bizarre ("Ellen Grew a Beard" to charmingly tasteless ("Stanley Stole My Shoelace and Rubbed It in His Armpit"). Poems are so well coordinated with accompaniment that at first you may not realize that Polisar is reading, not singing. The album includes good songs for other school performers ("I Don't Believe You're Going to the Bathroom," "Shut Up in the Library"). Arrangements are varied, tight and beautifully supplied by Polisar on vocals, guitar and percussion, his son Evan on clarinet and saxophone, and Ray Tilkens on various guitars, dulcimer, mandolin, recorders and percussion. 

For most of us, our early work is our history. In his early work, Polisar instead found current opportunity and used it to good advantage. These songs and poems, steeped in 30 years of performing and in collaboration with Tilkens, give us Barry Louis Polisar at his best."
– Sing Out Magazine, Summer, 2006


"Barry Louis Polisar is a 4-time Parents' Choice winner, a celebrated writer of children's books, stories and poems. Barry's new album is a two-disk reinvention of his least favorite songs spanning over his thirty year career as an entertainer, educator and advocate for children. Each disk has twenty songs -- pretty cool, eh? One of the most realistic and funniest songs on disk one is "When Suzie Sneezed". Other little treasures are "I Can't Tie My Shoe", "My Dentist Is An Awfully Nice Man", "Don't Leave Me in the House Alone" "A Bee Will Sting You", "The Ant and the Grasshopper (What They Didn't Tell You)", "There's No Substitute For a Cat", "I'm Bored", "The I Eat Kids Polka", "Five More Minutes", and "If You Know a Kid Who Complains All the Time". Round up the kids, get some play dates set-up in your neighborhood, or, if you happen to work with preschoolers and up, plan to play the CD during one of your circle times. If you think it'll just be the kids laughing, guess again because it just may be the adults whose voice you'll be hearing a lot of...nutty, goofy, kid and adult friendly."
– Celebrity Cafe Reviews


"The acclaimed children's singer/songwriter Barry Louis Polisar began making music in 1975. This album is a collection of his least-liked songs, which have been re-recorded over the past year. He changed melodies, rewrote some lyrics and headed into the studio. "When Suzie Sneezed," "I Can't Tie My Shoe," "Reptile World," "The Accident," "The Witch" and "That's What Makes the World Go 'Round" are fresh and fun for a new generation. The second disc includes the previously unreleased "The Ant and the Grasshopper (What They Didn't Tell You)" and the rapping work "The Craster." Songs for younger children are hard to find; there are a couple of hours of quality here."
– Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah

Click titles below to hear most of the forty songs on Barry's 2 CD set.