Music in the MadnessMarch 31, 2020
You ever wonder what Mister Rogers was like at home, in his own neighborhood? When the lights went out and he switched his bright knit sweater for an all white jumpsuit covered in blobs of bright colors? No? Really?! Well I do! These are the things that keep me up at night. What would Rogers be doing right now? During this current global pandemic? Well to tell you the truth, he would probably be singing about just that. Mister Rogers kept it real. I imagine he would be writing songs called “Won’t You Wash Your Hands?”, or “Let’s Stay 6 Feet Away,” all whilst crying into his hands (but not touching his face) as he plays his piano.
You see, even in his free time, Mister Rogers was the same wholesome dude we knew and loved. He always used his platform to speak the truth to those who needed to hear it most, children. I was lucky enough to witness this on the beautiful big screen in June of 2018, when HPAC screened “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” This was probably my favorite film shown in the ENTIRE history of The Hurleyville Performing Arts Centre. If you’ve yet to see it, you must. Watch the trailer here!
Rogers passed away in 2003 but not before inspiring generations of artists who have kept his messages alive. The co-creator of one of my (son’s) favorites “Blues Clues” teamed up with The Rogers Foundation after Rogers death to create “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.” The theme song is almost identical to Rogers’ featured in “Mister Rogers Neighborhood.” Each generation needs artists of all mediums to help teach our children what it means to be empathetic, the importance of having the courage to speak up, and more importantly, the confidence to do so.
As an adult, I struggle with retention. I am a musical kinda gal and it seems to me that I learn best through music. Turns out, I’m not alone. Music education has been shown to affect positive, measurable, and enduring change in brain development. When I learn through music, I really get it. I understand that bees are cute, but sing to me about why they’re important, and it clicks. Mister Rogers knew that this was true, and used it to teach generations of us.
But Mr. Rogers was for a younger crowd. He didn’t quite cater to the slightly older kids, teens and beyond. That’s where Nate & Hila have stepped in, and we are lucky enough that they don’t mind teaching older folks the importance of self-love and love for the environment, through original music and lyrics.
Mix Mister Rogers with Bill Nye The Science Guy and BAM—you’ve got something kinda like the wholesome, comedic/philosophical (PG-13) genius that makes up Nate & Hila. “Meiosis” is just the beginning of their newly dropped album “Naughty for Nature,” now streaming here. The sex-ed, sex-positive album walks us through both the queerness and quirkiness of nature and the facts of reproduction, on all levels of life. From “…creatures to creepers…,” “Naughty for Nature” takes you on the wildest ride of YOUR life! Literally and figuratively. N&H are doing Mother Nature’s work by creating enlightening and entertaining bops such as “20 Climate Solutions in 4.5 Minutes – Eco Rap,” or “Bring Your Own Cup, a Zero-Waste Anthem.” Nate & Hila raise awareness about Sustainability and Climate Change in other fun ways such as perusing Manhattan in an Earth costume, which you can enjoy here.
While “Naughty for Nature” is solely about the nature of sex, N&H have many other projects that cover topics that range from plastic waste to body hair, to ‘humanure’, the primaries and my personal favorite: “A History of Environmental Policy in the United States, 1960’s – present.” Nate & Hila have a way of making you learn while you are laughing. But, take it from them; “Their music will make you think, laugh, and booty-shake your way into actively loving your planet and yourself!” The two go hand in hand.
During dark times (and lately things have gotten pretty dark) we rely on the arts to light the way, to distract us, teach us and to keep us SANE. Most importantly, we rely on art to connect us. Like Mister Rogers was there for the children who read his books, or watched his show faithfully, during dark times such as divorce, death or discipline, Nate & Hila have been there for me and countless other fans during this time of grief and confusion, doing what they do best. Uplift.
As I sit at home during this time of quarantine, between trying to complete my daily tasks, keep my head up, keep my 7 year old occupied, get some at-home-work done, it soothes me to scroll for a moment and find out what some of my favorite artists are up to. The world has turned upside down, and it’s gotten dark. One thing I know for sure is that somewhere at the end of all this there is light, and music.