His quirky ditty “All I Want Is You” played over the opening credits of the 2007 Oscar-nominated film “Juno,” and arguably his best-known tune is titled, “He Eats Asparagus, Why Can’t You Be That Way?” Five-time Parents’ Choice Award-winner Barry Louis Polisar, 62, has been entertaining kids with silly songs about underwear and other puerile topics for more than four decades. A resident of Burtonsville, Md., he will perform June 4 at 10 a.m. at the fourth annual Community Block Party at the Owings Mill Jewish Community Center.
1. Why so many tunes about underwear and bodily functions?
I only have one song about underwear, and actually it’s not even really about underwear. It’s really a song about being able to let go and laugh. Since I write about kids and real life, songs like “Don’t Put Your Finger Up Your Nose” seem to resonate with my audiences.
2. Are you, indeed, the king of kids’ music?
Well, kings get overthrown, so I’m more comfortable being the court jester! I began my career singing for kids over 40 years ago, so [the Washington Post] called me the king of kids’ music because I’m still around.
3. Where do you get your inspiration for songs?
Most of my songs come from real life experience. My early songs from the ‘70s were often based on growing up with my younger brothers and sister. When my wife and I began raising a family in the late 1980s, I began writing and singing about my own kids.
4. What’s the key to getting on a kid’s level?
My wife says it is basic immaturity. I try to find the irony in everyday life and write about it.
5. What should Block Party attendees expect?
I’ll probably sing my “greatest hits” in my set. I love connecting with people at my live shows — and on Facebook — and I get to hear their stories of what my songs and stories meant to them when they were young. Aaron Cohen, a fan in California, produced a double tribute album of 60 of my songs recorded by musicians from all over the world. One was even a klezmer version of “Don’t Put Your Finger Up Your Nose,” and the group translated and sang my song in Yiddish. What a hoot!
Top photo: Barry Louis Polisar (Photo Copyright Michael G. Stewart)
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