Holden's interest in the Little Shirley Beans record for his sister is intriguing. When he talks about the singer, Estelle Fletcher, he describes her singing it as "very Dixieland and whorehouse [… not] all mushy, […not] cute as hell," as he thinks a white girl would have done. At first, this sounds rather odd. Why is Holden into a record that sounds Dixieland and whorish, especially since he's buying it for his little sister and is troubled by the thought of sexuality invading the world of children? Good question.
We think this is about avoiding phoniness. The record is clearly intended for children – it features a little kid that's embarrassed about having lost her front teeth. (Also, it's called "Little Shirley Beans," which is sort of a dead giveaway.) Anyway, Holden figures that most people, if singing a record for little children, would cheese it up, make it cute, mushy, and phony because they think that's what little kids are into. Holden prefers Estelle's rendition, because it lacks this sort of pretense. Much like Phoebe's notebook, to which we'll be addressing soon. Oh, but not before we suggest that you think about at what point in the novel the record breaks, and what Phoebe does when Holden reveals the broken pieces.