Del Ray/Old Town Patch

By Jen Desautels | Email the author | March 12, 2011


Neal Learner's Tunes of Fatherhood: 'Would You Like to Be a Mermaid'

My foot taps on the floor as I watch my daughter and her best friend spin in circles, arms in the air, hugging, kicking their legs, holding hands and promenading around the room. The soundtrack for this morning’s dance party? The upbeat, finger-snapping tunes of Neal Learner and the Del Ray Phantom Orchestra from "Would You Like to Be a Mermaid?" Neal is an Alexandria resident and father to two young girls.

A recent post on Neal’s fatherhood blog reads: "On the path through fatherhood I've had many questions, mainly centering on this one: What is normal versus extraordinary? It's well documented that women feel tremendous pressure to be "Super-Moms!" But my hunch is fathers too wonder how their parenting skills and life habits stack up to others as they seek to be better dads."

"Would You Like to Be a Mermaid?" feels like sunshine. The songs are crisp, lively and energetic, sending two 4-year-olds into a fit of giggles as they jump up and down moving to the beat.

The second song on the album becomes an immediate favorite, “Eat Good Food.” It is upbeat, but the motto that bursts forth is something that I immediately decided I would adopt for my house of preschoolers: “Be Kind, Tell the Truth, Eat Good Food.” For a moment, listening to Neal’s voice and the delivery of this important message, I feel like it is certainly something that will be easy to live by. Talk to me later as I try and force-feed my children mashed potatoes.

The songs are a combination of soothing lullabies and children’s party tunes (demonstrated by the manic dancing behavior of the girls). The music is catchy, the lyrics meaningful and clearly from the heart of a father, as suggested by “Me in You.” I could feel Neal speaking to his own little girls as he croons “No other place I’d rather be than by your side making history.”

Thoughts from the 4-year-old department as they listened to the music?

My daughter: "I thought of dancing!"

Her pal: "I thought of having a best friend."

The album is great for parents and children; parents don’t develop that twitch that can appear with Mickey Mouse’s rendition of “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands” on repeat. "Would You Like to Be a Mermaid?" is creative, jazzy, festive and fun—a perfect musical choice for a morning dance party or a long car trip.

"Would You Like to Be a Mermaid?" is available for purchase in Del Ray at Contessa's, The Purple Goose and A Show of Hands. It's available online at and through Learner's website.

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