“...you can just have Cookie Monster eat whatever you’re writing about.”
August 22, 2019 8:34 AM   Subscribe

"Now, as it marks its 50th anniversary — after 4,526 episodes, not to mention specials, movies, albums and more — the legacy of “Sesame [Street]” is clear: It impacted the music world as much as it shaped TV history, inspiring countless fans and generations of artists. And the show is still innovating, finding ever more ways to sing out loud." (SLNYT) posted by skycrashesdown (35 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
(The main article is full of tons of links to the songs it references!)
posted by skycrashesdown at 8:35 AM on August 22, 2019

By the way, John Williams III (aka "John-John" to those of us American "Sesame Street" viewers of a certain age) will be 50 himself on September 24th.
posted by droplet at 8:42 AM on August 22, 2019 [13 favorites]

In my opinion, the peak Sesame Street musical experience was Stevie Wonder doing "Superstition." Probably exceeds recommended maximum funk for the under-10, though.
posted by praemunire at 8:44 AM on August 22, 2019 [19 favorites]

posted by Melismata at 8:44 AM on August 22, 2019 [18 favorites]

I'm pleased that Sesame Street was born the same year that I was, as it's impossible to imagine my childhood without it.
posted by Slothrup at 8:45 AM on August 22, 2019 [5 favorites]

Joe Raposo, FTW: In the early years, when “Sesame” did a now unheard-of 130 hourlong episodes a year (it sometimes aired as often as five times a day) Raposo’s output was prodigious: He wrote over 3,000 pieces for the show, original compositions that could range from a few seconds to full-blown production numbers.

He scored the childhood of millions.... "Bein' Green," "C is for Cookie," the Theme Song, "ABC-DEF-GHI" etc etc etc
posted by chavenet at 8:50 AM on August 22, 2019 [14 favorites]

I wish the article mentioned this take off of The Floaters' "Float On", or who wrote it. It's so good. "Gimme 1-2-3-4-, but if you love me more..." Bob's falsetto! 😍
posted by droplet at 8:56 AM on August 22, 2019 [2 favorites]

HOW do none of these articles mention the all star extravaganza PUT DOWN THE DUCKIE
posted by poffin boffin at 9:09 AM on August 22, 2019 [23 favorites]

I was born too early to learn from Sesame Street, but my mother said Sing Along with Mitch was on the maternity ward television right before I was born, so maybe I heard a little Bob McGrath on the way into this world.
posted by pracowity at 9:14 AM on August 22, 2019 [6 favorites]


Roosevelt Franklin counts
posted by pracowity at 9:25 AM on August 22, 2019 [2 favorites]

I cannot access the links please someone confirm whether they mention the pinball countdown because DANG
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:45 AM on August 22, 2019 [4 favorites]

poffin boffin: all star extravaganza PUT DOWN THE DUCKIE

There are a few of those from early Sesame Street, but of course, I'm drawing a blank now. And it now seems that my memory is faulty, because it sounds like a serious undertaking:
Jon Stone, the really brilliant creator of Sesame, said, “Well, are you a patient guy?” I said, “Why do you ask?” And he said, “What if we asked each celebrity who came on the show for the next couple of years to sing one line of this song? Within a couple of years, we’ll have an all-star piece.” And that’s exactly what happened. Everybody sang a different line in the song, and then Jon edited it all together.
A pretty brilliant plan. And they ended up doing two versions, with some guests being replaced by newer guests.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:24 AM on August 22, 2019 [7 favorites]

Empress, the article mentions A counting sequence ("Grace Slick provided vocals for animated counting sequences"), but not the Pointer Sisters counting sequence, no. It just gives you an indirect sense of the sheer volume of Sesame Street's output over the years.

But here, watch Zip Bipadotta in Fat Cat Sat Hat if you have two minutes. Watch it over and over until the questions it raises no longer outstrip the questions it resolves. Listen to the music; look at the character designs; note the stage area and choreography the muppets must require; ask yourself when/where/if there are edits; think about how each character establishes a personality over two minutes; listen to the music rise and fall; pay attention to the lyrics and their delivery.

It's been about ninety minutes for me now, and it's just getting weirder.

And they've done this THOUSANDS of times. It's seriously overwhelming.
posted by tyro urge at 10:32 AM on August 22, 2019 [14 favorites]

I moved to Astoria a few years ago and I cannot tell you how much joy it brings me that I am a Person in That Neighborhood.

(The studios are building some more stages and it scares the foster dogs I look after on the regular, but otherwise things are cool.)
posted by lauranesson at 10:42 AM on August 22, 2019 [3 favorites]

Oh, a version of that appropriate song.
posted by lauranesson at 10:47 AM on August 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

“What if we asked each celebrity who came on the show for the next couple of years to sing one line of this song? Within a couple of years, we’ll have an all-star piece.”

Likewise done with the unparalleled Monster in the Mirror.
posted by Melismata at 11:37 AM on August 22, 2019 [5 favorites]

Sesame Street: Tiny Desk Concert (NPR, 10 June 2019)

"The Sesame Street Theme (Sunny Days)"
"People In Your Neighborhood"
"What I Am"
"Sing After Me"
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:46 AM on August 22, 2019 [6 favorites]

Are the horrible Years of Elmo over yet? Kevin Clash is gone now, perhaps they've stopped injecting Elmo into every frame.
posted by benzenedream at 12:27 PM on August 22, 2019 [6 favorites]

I have fond memories of Sesame Street. Some of those songs have been in embedded in my brain since the 70s.
Sesame Street Fever was in permanent rotation on my portable record player.

Unfortunately, my child grew up in the "All Elmo, All The Time" era of Sesame Street so, despite us only watching PBS, she doesn't have the same connection.
Wild Kratts and Cat in the Hat won that battle.
posted by madajb at 12:32 PM on August 22, 2019 [5 favorites]

Just here to cosign that "Put Down the Duckie" slaps
posted by potrzebie at 12:38 PM on August 22, 2019 [2 favorites]

I listen to the Sesame version of Superstition in my car because I want people to hear me singing SE-E-ESAME STREET over and over at the top of my lungs. It's something everyone needs to hear.
posted by klanawa at 12:57 PM on August 22, 2019 [3 favorites]

A friend of mine swears that for years, she thought the kid was actually named "Rosabelle Franklin."
posted by holborne at 1:11 PM on August 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

You know what only costs a dime? “The Telephone Rock.”
posted by ob1quixote at 1:33 PM on August 22, 2019 [4 favorites]

NYT article doesn't mention two from 1979: 'Me Left Me Cookie at the Disco,' which really captures the zeitgeist, and Philip Glass' 'Geometry of Circles.'

(I don't know anywhere you'd be able to watch it today, but, in 2000, VH1 produced a special called The Greatest TV Moments: Sesame Street Music A-Z (that link doesn't have videos, but Sesame Street is very good at putting up archival material, so most of the clips should be easy to find). It was the usual VH1 style of the time, like the 'I Love the [decade]' shows, a mix of clips and celebrities talking about the clips.

The highlight of the show, for me, was dream hampton talking about how, when she was a child, she and her mother were watching Lena Horne sing 'Bein' Green,' and her mother told her 'imagine that instead of singing 'bein' green,' she was singing 'bein' black.')

posted by box at 1:39 PM on August 22, 2019 [9 favorites]

NYT article doesn't mention two from 1979: 'Me Left Me Cookie at the Disco,'

This whole album is brilliant. I don't know if it's legitimately available, but it was floating around the internet a few years ago.

But I'd never seen the Phillip Glass before - have any other minimalist composers done Sesame Street spots?
posted by jb at 2:05 PM on August 22, 2019

Recently "One of these things are not like the other..." song was in my head.

Also - BoC sampled the "I... Love... You..."
On Sesame Street they were painting the window and you saw it backwards throught he window...

Also - Mirageman has a song called Nicaragua, which I'm like 99% sure I remember sesame street playing (possibly with kids playing on the playground?)

(Is this an SS original or a cover that both SS & this guy used? )

And Venetian Snares remix of the Pinball Song is also great.
posted by symbioid at 2:15 PM on August 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

There's Joan La Barbera's 'Signing Alphabet'--there are probably others, but that's the one I know offhand (and the Kronos Quartet played a segment, as did synth-era Herbie Hancock, and so have folks like Itzhak Perlman and Mira Ben Ari).

I did find a couple blog posts about Sesame Street and classical and electronic music, both of which have some more neat stuff.
posted by box at 2:37 PM on August 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

Would you like to buy an O?

Circular and sweet?

It'll cost you just a nickle!



So buy an O and take it home, tonight.
posted by davros42 at 4:21 PM on August 22, 2019 [2 favorites]

Ah, I had that Pointer Sisters counting song and Smart E's sesame street on my last MeFi mixtape but had to cut them out for time constraints. Also right at the 50 year mark I can't even fathom the hours spent in front of the TV watching Sesame Street and The Electric Company as a kid. So much the only edutainment available back then and there.
posted by zengargoyle at 5:12 PM on August 22, 2019

OMG Sesame Street and music was just nuts. Remember all those abstract sandbox animations with music playing during them, I'm remembering maybe banjo or something else? Those were mesmerizing and sometimes sort of vaguely unsettling.

There were SO many little animated inserts most of them wordless with music. I'm assuming Raposo did most of those. He was basically the house composer.

He's as influential in my Muppet-based upbringing as Paul Williams.

I was born in 68. I was like 19 months old when Sesame Street appeared. Fred Rogers appeared about a month after I did. Electric Company was soon to follow. And weird stuff, too. Like New Zoo Revue. But also Big Blue Marble and Zoom and 3-2-1 Contact and and and...

But I digress. Sesame Street and music. My piano teacher had The Sesame Street Songbook and I can still play that arrangement of the Sesame Street Theme from memory. Holy crap, it's cheap, I should buy one!
posted by hippybear at 8:12 PM on August 22, 2019 [8 favorites]

Joe Raposo is, of course, the unquestioned king of Sesame Street music.

But if you’re a hard working dog, this can’t be beat.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 8:59 PM on August 22, 2019 [3 favorites]

Elmo is still around and still featured prominently (voiced by someone other than Kevin Clash). Cookie Monster’s Foodie Truck is a new recurring segment that is truly charming, so all is not lost.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 9:05 PM on August 22, 2019 [2 favorites]

It used to be that if you sent them five dollars in the mail along with a request for a specific song, the Sesame Street office would send you sheet music for any song from the show. My mother has a big stack of them still from the 80s.
posted by foxtongue at 11:16 PM on August 22, 2019 [3 favorites]

Are the horrible Years of Elmo over yet?

I reject Elmo and all his works. Anathema upon him. GROVER FOR LIFE.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 2:27 AM on August 23, 2019 [8 favorites]

They've grown smarter about how the use Elmo (he's still there a lot). New episodes are only half an hour long, sadly lacking a lot of the film parodies that were more for adults than kids. The show ends with Elmo's World, but the segment has been cut down to 4-5 minutes. I watched an episode from a decade ago and it was a nightmare...if we're being generous, I'd say that they were showing bratty Elmo to try and convince kids not to be bratty. Fortunately, they seem to have decided that letting Elmo serve as a kind, empathetic example is the better track. In the main segments, he's usually paired with other characters and often isn't the center of the story. But I understand why Elmo took over everything, and I don't think it's just to sell toys. My niece frequently refuses to watch segments where Elmo isn't onscreen. He's basically the little kid protagonist.

Monster Foodies is so great that I tracked down Gonger's origin (the truly terrible Furchester Hotel, stay away).

As for the songs....I have a real weakness for the will.i.am/"What I am" song, which also made it onto npr's Sesame Street Tiny Desk concert.
posted by grandiloquiet at 7:45 AM on August 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

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