Join 3,572 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


It’s a neighborly day in this beautywood, a neighborly day for a beauty...
September 23, 2011 7:04 PM   Subscribe

Won't You Be My Neighbor? Mr. Rogers singing his immortal theme song "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" at different stages of the program's life from 1967 to 2000. So take your coat off, put on your sweater, and sing along.
posted by zooropa (59 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite

 
Thank-you, Mister Rogers, wherever you are, for introducing me to jazz.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:28 PM on September 23, 2011 [7 favorites]


This video clip is so sweet and melancholy. It's like a poem on your parents' aging.
posted by Nelson at 7:36 PM on September 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


If you can watch that video and not smile, you're a replicant. This is Voight-Kampff 2.0 right here.
posted by Krazor at 7:40 PM on September 23, 2011 [6 favorites]


Yeah that was really kind of sad. I don't know which I mourn for more, my own lost youth or Mr. Rogers winter years, visibly aged a withered, just years from death, no longer the boy from Latrobe who started all those years ago. One day we will all be there, forcing a smile, unable to stop because there is nothing left but the show, singing our song one last time for the cameras.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:48 PM on September 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Holy crap. It IS a "beautiful day in THIS neighbourhood." I could have sworn it was "THE neighbourhood," and was convinced Wheel of Fortune had it wrong today.
posted by evilcolonel at 7:55 PM on September 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ad hominem, I understand the impulse there, but I don't think Mr. Rogers felt like that at all. He was doing something great for the world and I am not aware of a single thing that causes me to believe he questioned doing the show, even near the end.

Mr. Roger's song will probably outlive us all. Maybe not his literal song, but his message.

Let's make the most of this beautiful day!
While we're together, we might as well say:
would you be mine?
could you be mine?
would you be my neighbor?

posted by JHarris at 7:57 PM on September 23, 2011 [9 favorites]


I miss Mr. Rogers. Best part of staying home from school sick was being able to watch him.
posted by lilkeith07 at 8:02 PM on September 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Here's his good bye songs: "Tomorrow" which he would sing Monday-Thursday and on Friday's he'd sing what became "It's Such a Good Feeling". In the early 70s, the latter became the end theme for each day.
posted by inturnaround at 8:02 PM on September 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Excuse me, I've seem to have something in my eye...must be allergies.
posted by kaminariko at 8:03 PM on September 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah I am projecting. I never saw the show when he was that old.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:06 PM on September 23, 2011


My gosh, I miss him.
posted by HopperFan at 8:28 PM on September 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


This thread is incomplete without a link to Metafilter's second most favorited comment in a thread. Gosh, I miss Mr. Rogers.
posted by Blasdelb at 8:32 PM on September 23, 2011 [7 favorites]


I never watched Mr. Rogers much as a kid. Something about the show just didn't speak to me. Still, until today I thought I was familiar enough with the theme song. Who isn't? Then I watched this video and noticed that there is no pause at all in the first line, "...a beautiful day for a neighbor would you be mine?" That's kind of a cool little tricky internal rhyme phrasing, and I was surprised that I had never noticed it before. So I went to look for youtube videos and found that he did in fact change it at some point to pause between neighbor and would. Whew. My memory had not failed me.

Then I got to clicking on various Mr. Rogers videos, and found this one where he's addressing the Senate in 1969 to support funding for PBS, which President Nixon had proposed cutting. Whatever it was about the man that didn't appeal to me as a kid sure does appeal to me now, as an adult. Pastabagel's brilliant comment from several years ago is worth revisiting, if you're one of the few people who haven't already seen and favorited it.
posted by Balonious Assault at 8:32 PM on September 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was such a bad child. His straightforward and subtly serious manner, the unashamed handling of the shoes and the stowing of them...was so wholesome, and yet...in no way fantastical or dramatic, and in a very real way, suspect. I felt sure I would be tricked into obeying some kind of rule of conduct at every turn by this sneaky authority figure, even though I was passively watching television, consuming images in the same way I did when watching cartoons.

And now that I know real people are typically lit badly and behave more like Mr. Rogers, and not like Donald Duck, and that they do not communicate in terms of weirdness and buffoonery, I wonder what was rotten with me and why I couldn't have been decent.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 8:34 PM on September 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah I watched the hell out of Mister Rogers, even if by the late 70s he was incredibly uncool.
There are an insane amount of clips online. I find this pretty endearing, he tries to sing while wrangling a fidgety cat.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:51 PM on September 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Gosh, I love Mr. Rogers. I didn't watch him as a kid, but now, twenty-so years later, I simply rejoice every time I happen upon him. What a good, good man. He must have improved so many lives; certainly, in the few exposures I've had, he improved mine.

I think it's hard to just love and be loved. but this guy did it. Good for him. I wish we could all get a little closer to that - to understanding that we, our very selves, are loved for what we are. Isn't that a great thing?

I hope Mr. Rogers is nothing but celebrated. He deserves it.
posted by punchtothehead at 8:52 PM on September 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


This video clip is so sweet and melancholy. It's like a poem on your parents' aging.

Or, for some of us, more like our own aging.

Funny coincidence: walking with my daughter just a couple days ago (appropriately enough, in our neighborhood) I sang the Mr. Rogers theme song to her. She'd never heard it. She liked it, and asked me what it was. Told her about the show and all that.

The years, they come and go.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:59 PM on September 23, 2011 [7 favorites]


Oh, and now I'm gonna show her this clip! So, thanks zooropa!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:59 PM on September 23, 2011


A day where Google honors Jim Henson and Metafilter posts on the blue about Mr. Rogers is a pretty good day, I think.
posted by xingcat at 9:03 PM on September 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


I know someone very well who did not have a good childhood. At. All.

She remembers watching Mr. Rogers every chance she could, and taking off and putting on her shoes and sweater (sweatshirt) just like he did, and singing the songs he sang, and falling in love with all of the places he went to, and all of the people he met, and knows the Land of Make Believe better than the block she lives on now.

She's a wonderful mother, an accomplished academic, and at the top of her profession. I see her struggling sometimes, with what she feels and how to express it, and with her frustrations with the baby or at work. She manages to work it out, to change when she needs to change, to stand strong when she needs to stand strong. She didn't learn that from anyone she knew growing up... save one.

Mr Rogers? One hell of a job, sir. One hell of a job.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:18 PM on September 23, 2011 [18 favorites]


When my little brother was about two years old, he had a routine every day where he'd sit around and take off his shoes and put them back on again over and over again. People would ask him what he was doing, and he'd just answer, "Mister Rogers."

Anyway... when celebrities die or people pass away and I don't know them personally, it's hard to feel a connection. Of course, you feel bad for the bereaved and you feel sad for the loss of life, but it's almost as if a thing disappeared... you didn't know the person, so how could they be that real to you, right? This was probably the only time I've ever sat down and grieved when someone died. He was real, even if it was just a TV show and a person that I never got to meet. He was real.

Mr. Rogers is also the subject of the only "stupid comment on the internet" I go out of my way to correct all the time, whenever anyone brings up that dumb urban legend about him being in the military. No, he wasn't some crazed Vietnam sharpshooter. No, he didn't do wild deeds before settling down. No, Mr. Rogers doesn't need some insane story about killing people to make him a great figure. He was just a quiet, thoughtful, good man... by all accounts the best kind of man, the finest kind of man there could ever be.
posted by Old Man McKay at 9:26 PM on September 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


my heart be filled with warm and fuzzies.
posted by Neekee at 9:31 PM on September 23, 2011


Wow, the 1967 Fred Rogers looked a lot like David Byrne.

PSYCHO NEIGHBOR, QU'EST-CE QUE C'EST?
posted by Curious Artificer at 9:36 PM on September 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


Here's his good bye songs: "Tomorrow" ...

First line of patter in that clip: "Well, we'll just keep our cape, in case we need it."

No sure what he was referring to, but I think I've found my new catchphrase.
posted by neroli at 9:43 PM on September 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Mr Rogers Neighborhood is on Amazon Prime Instant Video ya know.

I hope it stays there forever, so whenever I have kids of my own I can share it with them. The thought of that makes me smile.
posted by SirOmega at 9:45 PM on September 23, 2011


No matter what sort of ugly day that I've had or how frustrated I may be with whatever silliness around me, one minute of watching Mr. Rogers makes it go away. He's like a good cup of tea, bowl of tomato soup, or plate of mac & cheese... comfort at it's finest. I loved him as a kid. I appreciate him as an adult.
posted by imbri at 10:25 PM on September 23, 2011


Obligatory Can You Say… "Hero"? link.
posted by Lexica at 10:33 PM on September 23, 2011


I didn't much like Mr. Rogers as a kid. (Instead, I was smitten with Levar Burton and Reading Rainbow. Goddamn, I loved Reading Rainbow.) But now as an adult, Mr. Rogers is my personal definition/ideal of a saint. I'm ashamed to have ever thought he was creepy.
posted by yasaman at 10:36 PM on September 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh, hearing this always makes me warm and fuzzy. Thank you.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:53 PM on September 23, 2011


I think I'm going to start asking people what color sweater Mr. Rogers wore when I need to figure out if they're older than me or younger. Up until now, I was never aware that he wore anything but a light blue one.
posted by colfax at 11:23 PM on September 23, 2011


on Friday's he'd sing what became "It's Such a Good Feeling"

Hey! I think he forgot to put on his shoes before heading out of the house! (Was it always that way?)
posted by ocherdraco at 11:29 PM on September 23, 2011


Also, I never realized until today that this is a rhyme:

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood
A beautiful day for a neighbor would
posted by ocherdraco at 11:35 PM on September 23, 2011


Also, after watching this, I stumbled upon Mr. Rogers defending PBS to the U.S. Senate which is a pretty amazing clip.
posted by colfax at 11:39 PM on September 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Also, he was a good man.
posted by Balonious Assault at 11:42 PM on September 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Reading some of the responses here referencing Pastabegel's wonderful commentary and the ones about Fred Rogers addressing the Senate reminded me of how Mr. Rogers was a frequent commencement speaker at various universities. However, I seem to recall a bit of controversy about having him speak at the Dartmouth graduation in 2002. Even though he had attended school there and was presented with many honorary degrees throughout the years, some believed that it wasn't appropriate for a children's television host to address such a distinguished group as the graduating class of Dartmouth (I think I also remember comments at the time about him being "creepy" and "religious" and somehow undesirable for such a "noble" purpose). His actual address to the Dartmouth graduates is one of my favorite all-time speeches (maybe it is for you as well), but I'd imagine there are many who aren't aware of it. Just as I'm sure there may be some who never saw him accept the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 1997 Emmys.

There's a point in his speech that defines who he was and the effect he had upon millions of people. I'm not sure I can do it justice. He asks the audience to join him in a moment of silent thanks to all the people who cared about them and who ultimately made it possible for everyone to be there that evening. He said that he'd watch the time while they all reflect. There were some laughs from those who were expecting some sort of a joke to break the unexpected, awkward seriousness of the moment. The moment that follows those laughs when the realization strikes the audience that he was serious and truly expected them to quietly thank the ones in their lives who made them special is tangible even in the recorded videos of the event.

Millions of people grew up knowing that Mr. Rogers really was their friend, that he wouldn't lie to them or make fun of them, and that he was a man who could be trusted with each of our inner children. I think that's what makes him so "creepy" to some and an object of ridicule for others...because maybe they doubt that their own inner child is truly as worthwhile as Mr. Rogers always promised. It's just a thought I had tonight while reading so many of these fond memories of the man that are posted here and elsewhere across the Web.
posted by kaminariko at 11:48 PM on September 23, 2011 [17 favorites]


Years ago, on a site called Fametracker, in discussing Mr. Rogers in a thread, a mentioned the Jewish idea of the Tzadikim Nistarim, or the Lamed Vavniks, the 36 secret saints. Wikipedia sums up the idea admirably: On earth, there are "36 righteous people whose role in life is to justify the purpose of humankind in the eyes of God."

I was then of the opinion that Mr. Rogers was one of these saints. I stand by that. If such a person ever existed, it was Fred Rogers.

I think that, barring illness or accident, people age into the face that suits them. Watching Mr. Rogers age in these videos is only sad if you find aging sad. I enjoyed seeing him turn into who he actually was, a living embodiment of kindness and compassion. I do not even dare judge myself by the standard he set -- I think I am very different sort of person. But, oh my goodness, am I glad there are people like him who once in a while appear in this world. Without it, I wouldn't be surprised if the whole world actually did collapse. We get so many samplings and examples of people at their worst. What would we do without examples of what we can aspire to?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:54 PM on September 23, 2011 [13 favorites]


"Well, we'll just keep our cape, in case we need it."

Like we needed any more proof that Mr. Rogers was the greatest superhero ever.
posted by KingEdRa at 12:40 AM on September 24, 2011


I think he was a man, unmistakably a good man, but a man nonetheless. This was his Job, it might have been noble and fulfilling, but 30+ years talking to puppets? Maybe he was a saint, maybe he was really the second coming of jesus, perhaps he sacrificed himself for us, delivering sermons as Henrietta Pussycat. But I don't think so, I think he was a man, who probably had good days and bad days, who probably woke up some days thinking "fuck that stupid cat puppet", who in the end died, as all men will, after only a few years after his last show, probably mystified by what all the children he had helped raised had become.

Fuck it, I guess I'm with you, he gave us 30 years and asked nothing in return except that we be his neighbor. Since I am not a person who believes in saints, I guess he is close enough for me.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:00 AM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Don't feel bad Balonius Assault I hated Dr. Seuss as a child. According to my friends thats a worse crime.
posted by Kloryne at 1:23 AM on September 24, 2011


Ms. Betty (Lady) Aberlin once wrote an email describing her initial interactions with one of Fred Rodgers' puppets, Daniel Striped Tiger...
"My first boyfriend's mother had told me that 'ugga-mugga' was a catchphrase from the roaring twenties. I brought it, and the Eskimo kiss, to Daniel's clock, and at first Fred did not like the expression of affection. I had been raised with Kukla, Fran & Ollie, and Fran often expressed her love for Kukla and Ollie by touching them. This made them more real to me. Daniel, who came more and more to embody the earliest of the Early Childhood Development stages, was very real to me, and very dear. Since Fred was not physically demonstrative, and did not want me to be touchy-feeley with the puppets, I was able to bring my profound fondness for Daniel, and my grateful appreciation of Fred into the 4 syllables of 'nonsense'. It was always hard to say goodbye to Daniel, and the 'ugga-mugga' became a loving ritual for us."
"Ugga mugga Lady Aberlin."

"Ugga mugga Daniel Tiger."
posted by johnnyace at 3:27 AM on September 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


Thank-you, Mister Rogers, wherever you are, for introducing me to jazz.

Here's a great clip on Neighborhood musical director, the brilliant pianist Johnny Costa. And here's the house band with Wynton Marsalis.
posted by neroli at 6:15 AM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


One of my favorite versions of "Won't You Be...". Jimmy Costa is particularly inspired in this rendition, doing some pretty out-there interpolations in his piano playing. Notice a few wonderful things. He usually plays something special when Mr. Rogers zips his sweater. And in this performance, he absolutely nails the "shoe throw" with a beautiful run up to a sharply struck chord. It makes Fred smile and he almost laughs! Amazing stuff.
posted by ReeMonster at 8:07 AM on September 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


I miss Fred Rogers about as much as it's possible to miss someone that you've never met in person.

Maybe we can all take a day to put aside our pet obsessions and worries and hobby horses and set ourselves a simple goal: let's all try to be as nice as Mister Rogers for a day.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:21 AM on September 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Jimmy = Johnny of course, whoops
posted by ReeMonster at 8:51 AM on September 24, 2011


But I don't think so, I think he was a man, who probably had good days and bad days, who probably woke up some days thinking "fuck that stupid cat puppet",

It's interesting you say that. You may well be right. One of Fred Rogers ongoing themes on the show was that we have emotions, and they can be very strong, and they can be scary sometimes, but that's all right. As we grow up, we learn to make decisions that are informed by our emotions, but not defined or controlled by them.

He was a man. A very good man, and one who really cared about children and helping them navigate their way through this world, and respected how overwhelming and frightening their experience of the world can be, and tried to give them the tools they needed to be all right in this big, scary world. I agree -- I don't know that there are literal saints. But he represented about as good a human as we can aspire to be.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:09 AM on September 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


"30+ years talking to puppets"

But he wasn't talking to puppets, really - he was just using them to talk to us.
posted by HopperFan at 9:09 AM on September 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


I just found this and wish I remembered it from real life.
posted by ChuraChura at 10:10 AM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


But he wasn't talking to puppets, really - he was just using them to talk to us.

I'm not saying that like it is a bad thing. We weren't there in the studio, he didn't get to see our reactions. It was just him and his puppets,day after day for a lifetime. I just think he was probably a bit more complex than his TV persona. Even Jesus had doubts and temptations did he not?
posted by Ad hominem at 11:36 AM on September 24, 2011


I'm not saying that like it is a bad thing. We weren't there in the studio, he didn't get to see our reactions. It was just him and his puppets,day after day for a lifetime.

Fred Rodgers had a life outside of television, and a life before television. It's a mistake to assume what you see is all there was.

I just think he was probably a bit more complex than his TV persona.

You make the mistake of assuming his TV persona was simple. Frequently the workings of one man's mind doesn't cleanly map onto those of another's. What we sometimes regard as "doubt" is sometimes a matter of degree, or interpretation. He may well have had doubts, but I suspect the complexities of Fred Rogers' soul didn't bend that way.

In any case, Jesus was a man too. His "why have you forsaken me" bit on the cross was a bit theatrical, wasn't it?
posted by JHarris at 11:54 AM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Behind the scenes at the MR Show.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:45 PM on September 24, 2011


You know, I think Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood meant to child-me what Carl Sagan's Cosmos means to young-adult me: It made me excited about learning. It was like "Yes! You can learn these things too! Growing up/the mystery of the brain is not privileged information!"
posted by Krazor at 1:36 PM on September 24, 2011


I am suddenly moved to go out and get some Mister Rogers DVDs for my kid, since I haven't seen it on PBS in years.

One thing that always bothered me though, why does he put on sneakers? Does anyone actually have house sneakers? Is that a Pennsylvania thing?
posted by madajb at 1:38 PM on September 24, 2011


Beautifully said, Bunny Ultramod.
posted by peagood at 2:41 PM on September 24, 2011


Every time there is a Mr. Rogers thread, I wish I could find the words to encapsulate what he means to me. There's just this big feeling inside me, and I don't know how to get it out. Feelings can be confusing and scary. They can be hard to explain.

The lessons Mr. Rogers gives are important. As an adult, I need to hear what he has to say as much as children do. He's still helping me learn what it means to be human.
posted by meese at 3:24 PM on September 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


Has there EVER been a better song since "Because you're all one piece"?!
posted by Melismata at 7:22 PM on September 24, 2011


Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood was a safe place in my sometimes scary childhood. I loved it, and loved him. (I was only a little creeped out by Lady Elaine; she looked kind of mean to me.) I still have happy memories of him, and watching some of the videos some of you have posted is like walking back into my childhood; bittersweet.
posted by Mama Steph at 7:44 PM on September 24, 2011


Whenever I see all these wonderful things said about Mr. Rogers, I think about poor, forgotten Marion the Librarian, and all those terrible years of captivity. Le sigh.

Too, Mr. Rogers might have benefitted from a little more chaos in his life. He never really found his Mr. Moose.
posted by Twang at 8:30 PM on September 24, 2011


Does the clip of how he handled Bobby Kennedy's assassination on the show exist? YouTube and Google are failing me.
posted by brujita at 6:33 AM on September 25, 2011


I'm saddened a bit by the clip because it shows no matter how immortal his message is, he himself was mortal and like the rest of us, a transient existence. It's one of those times when stoicism and buddhist beliefs have to be left behind so that while you richly enjoy what he gave, you also mourn for his not being here anymore.
posted by Chocomog at 10:41 AM on September 26, 2011


« Older "There is nothing quite like the gasp that escapes...   |   On March 15, 1993, The Truth C... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments