Mike Oldfield for Babies

The 1970s was a magical time in which a centuries-old Italian folk song, played on a jaunty recorder, and accompanied by a kazoo, guitar, and string synthesizer, could blow up the charts. 

Mike Oldfield’s single “In Dulci Jubilo,” released around Christmas 1975, reached #4 in the UK and became a hit across Europe. It was so successful for Oldfield that he’d spend a significant part of the next five years trying to recreate its success. He released singles and B-sides of instrumental folk tunes with a similar jester-skipping-through-the-copse vibe, usually featuring a recorder, or flute, or a synth trying to sound like a recorder or flute.

I have a weakness for these inconsequential efforts. While Oldfield is largely known for creating sprawling, complex, interweaving epics like Tubular Bells, part of his genius is his ability to create or interpret simple, engaging melodies. He’s a folky at heart, but one who could merge folk’s emphasis on strong but simple melodies with more modern influences and instrumentation. 

On a whim, I decided to collect these tunes, along with some other later infant-friendly Oldfield tracks, into a playlist for my one-year-old in an effort to indoctrinate introduce him to Oldfield’s music. He loved it. And for me it was a reminder of a time when innocence could chart. 

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