Reid Genauer Writes Children’s Book
After two decades of writing songs for Strangefolk and Assembly of Dust, Reid Genauer is now a children’s author. He has completed Jeffery’s Jungle, a 24 page book for ages 4-9. Written by Genauer and illustrated by Alan Close, Jeffrey’s Jungle shares the account of a young boy who turns up the thermostat while his mother is off running errands and a jungle sprouts in the midst of his living room. It is now available for purchase.
The String Cheese Incident’s Bill Nershi shares parise for Genauer and the book: “Reid’s a great songwriter. He has a natural approach to a song that is artful, lyrically acrobatic and accessible. He and I have always bonded about the role of song craft in the sea of musical improvisation. Writing a children’s book is a natural extension of what he does best. Not surprisingly his book comes off as mischievous and fun loving as he is.”
Genauer evokes Shel Silverstein, Jerry Garcia and Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter as he details the origins of Jeffrey’s Jungle:
“I have always been described by my friends and family as sensitive. Kind of a rough description to live with when you are struggling to fit in as a kid and even as an adult. Our day to day interactions at school, professionally and socially are not really designed for sensitivity. Just the opposite. One is expected to put on a smile and not make a fuss. I’m not 100% sure what the hell sensitive even really means in the context of one’s personality. I’m not talking about crying at Hallmark commercials – which as an aside – I do. For better or for worse I think I experience life with more amplitude than the normal spectrum and with some kind of heightened awareness. In most instances that’s an uncomfortable cross to bear. It’s something I have been somewhat ashamed of my whole life and have spent a ton of time an energy either denying or trying to modulate to fit in as a regular dude.
“All of that said at a young age I found that creativity – for me specifically writing – is a place where sensitivity is rewarded. It’s an activity where you can unleash your senses and let them scream. I would not have had the words to describe it back then but after reading Shel Silverstien’s “Where The Sidewalk Ends” at about age 9, I was inspired to start writing. Even though most of Shel’s writing is funny, there is emotional presence within the playfulness that I found familiar and inspiring. So at the age of 9 I started writing Shel Silversteinian rhymes as a creative outlet and I’m still doing it.
“A few years later – probably at the age of 12 I got turned onto the Grateful Dead. My first tape [yes, tape] was a bootleg version of Live Dead. I found a similar comfort in the writing and the performances of the Grateful Dead. While I think the entire group has that Shel Silverstein kind of touch, I have always been moved by Robert Hunter’s writing and Garcia’s delivery especially. Like Shel Silverstein, Hunter is able to channel his sensitivity with lyrics that are cool and accessible – emotional but absolutely not in a Hallmark commercial kind of way. What made Garcia and Hunter such a powerful team is that Jerry was able to take that sentiment and deliver it musically with the same intent – emotional and vulnerable but strong and certain at the same time. I think that chemistry is the root of the magic of The Grateful Dead.
“With Shel, Hunter and Garcia as role models I have spent most of my life trying to channel myself into my writing as a way to connect with the world with the intent of being emotionally present but stylistically relevant. In fairness, there are times when I have jumped the shark but hey the journey is the destination. For 20+ years I have focused publicly on expressing myself through song and I intend to continue. But my journey started with trying to imitate good ole Shel Silverstein. Over the years I have privately written hundreds of little rhymes. I have three little boys under the age of 9 and I read to them at bedtime from my collection. It’s become a cool way for me to connect with them. One of their favorites is called “Jeffery’s Jungle.” So as part of my continued journey to greet the world through creativity, I thought I would share “Jeffery’s Jungle” with a larger audience and see what people make of it. It’s not exactly “Stella Blue” but it’s a nugget of me shared through a humble little story that is a bridge from me to whomever may read it. Fingers crossed.”