Daniel Tashian and His Daughters Cut a Children's Album During Quarantine [Interview]

Eric Ray Davidson

Daniel Tashian has earned his Nashville songwriter bonafides many times over with cuts by Lee Ann Womack, Sara Evans, Tim McGraw, Josh Turner, Mindy Smith, Tenille Townes, Martina McBride, Billy Currington, Lucie Silvas and other country music stars. Tashian's also gotten his due by way of CMA, ACM and Grammy awards for co-producing Kacey Musgraves' Golden Hour.  In addition, he co-wrote seven of the 13 songs on Golden Hour with Musgraves:  "Slow Burn," "Happy & Sad," "Love is a Wild Thing," "Lonely Weekend," "Oh, What a World," "Mother" and the title track.

Lately, he's positioned himself for album of the year consideration in a much different genre. First came the May 2019 release I Love Rainy Days, a Grammy-nominated children's album featuring appearances by Tashian's daughters Tigerlily, Matilda and Tinkerbell. On June 5, Tashian shared a follow-up created with his daughters during quarantine, Mr. Moonlight.

Tashian didn't exactly dream of writing songs for kids back when he first chased pop-rock fame with The Silver Seas (also known as The Bees), but it makes total sense now that the son of bluegrass duo Holly and Barry Tashian has children of his own.

"It's a desire to connect with your kids and to share the joy of music with them and to enjoy being a little window into their viewpoint of the world," Tashian says. "I would ask them what they're interested in, and that's how we'd develop our lyrics. So yeah, it's the desire that a parent feels to connect. I never thought about that in my 20s and early 30s before I had kids, although I liked great Disney music and great Mister Rogers records as a kid."

Beyond connecting deeper with his daughters' interests and imaginations, Tashian finds creative fulfillment through his family's home recording project.

"A child-like look at the world is a good place to come from if you want to get creative," he says. "Even Pablo Picasso was astonished by children's drawings and how fantastic they were and how accurate. There's a tremendous amount of creativity there that sort of can get stifled by various bureaucratic systems be they schools or institutions of one kind or another. The creative spirit is alive and well in children."

Collaborating musically with their kids must be the thing to do for Musgraves' co-writer and co-producer friends. Luke Laird did something similar with his wife Beth and their two sons, collectively known now as The Cool Chips.

"The goal is really to make my wife and kids smile, and hopefully it will make others smile as well," Laird said in a press release. "This project is a great time stamp of the ages of our children and the quarantine, but it also represents the creativity and hope that we can find in everyday life if we just look for it."

Aside from creating hands-on tasks for creative parents at a time when in-person songwriting sessions give way to impersonal Zoom meetings, these projects offer the children involved a distraction during scary times.

"When you're making music, you get the option to create your own reality," Tashian says. "It's a really nice option, and it can become a lifelong joy. You get to decide when you're making music if you want to make it dark and you're going to really get all of your worries and anxieties out through the music, or if you're going to make a Parisian street scene or if you're going to make a bossa nova about drawing. You get to create your own world, and it's nice to be able to do that. It's something that children do very easily and very naturally, but a lot of adults don't get to do as much unless they get into a hobby like painting or are artists like musicians."

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So far this summer, Tigerlilly, 8, and her twin sisters Matilda and Tinkerbell, 6, seem thrilled with their contributions to Mr. Moonlight, if only because Alexa plays each song on command. Tashian knows their child-like wonder will ultimately give way to personal independence, whether or not they follow their own singer/songwriter paths.

"I really don't want to be a stage dad and make anybody do anything they don't want to do, but as long as they want to do it, I'm willing to work on music with them," Tashian says. "Kids usually want to do things their own way. After they learn how to use Garage Band or whatever, they probably won't want to fool with me anymore, which is probably how things should be."

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Daniel Tashian and His Daughters Cut a Children's Album During Quarantine [Interview]