Happy People Like You

One of the greatest things about having children–aside from the perpetuation of your genetic material and the necessity of having sex to do so–is that you again have an excuse to listen to Sesame Street albums.

It’s not just that the songs are catchy and clever and rife with jokes that only an adult would get, but that everyone involved in their creation clearly had a blast doing so. Where the Disney songs are pitch-perfect and saccharine-sweet, most of the Muppet tunage is a sloppy, silly, hilarious mess. And you totally know those 70’s-era guys wrote this stuff on some high-quality spleef.

You can find five of my favorites over on muxtape:

I Like You: The classic Sesame Street song, sung by a major character (or two major characters in this case, Ernie & Bert), neatly encapsulating a positive message, and scintillating as all get-out.

For The Birds: I defy you to not laugh during this song. Defy! If you listen to your music over speakers at the office, player this sucker on volume 11.

The Letter U: Some of the funniest songs are performed by major artists parodying their own work. This sounds like a standard, high-energy Melissa Etheridge song, until you really pay attention to the lyrics.

Bein’ Green: Sure you know it, but have you listened to it as an adult? Do so, and you’ll see why it’s been covered by everyone from Ray Charles to Van Morrison to the Boston Pops Orchestra.

I Hope That Somethin’ Better Comes Along: Okay, totally cheating with this one, as it is actually drawn from The Muppet Movie. But it would be unforgivable to omit it (as they did on the Muppet Show 25th Anniversary Collection … which is why we are now raising a generation of boys blissfully unaware that, someday soon, the girls toward whom they are currently indifferent will be driving them bananas). Fun fact: Jim Henson does both Kermit’s and Rolf’s voice in this track.

25 thoughts on “Happy People Like You

  1. My friend & I did a rather nice rendition of “I Hope Something Better Comes Along” as part of our high school choir’s “solos & small groups” night – my, that was 26 years ago.

    My something better came along in 1988, I married her in 1990… and my excuses to watch Sesame Street (and VeggieTales!) are 6 & 3 years old.

    Other great Sesame Street moments:
    – R.E.M. singing “Shiny Happy Monsters”
    – Madeline Kahn & Grover singing “Be My Echo”

    And since we’re talking movies here, who can forget Kermit & Charles Grodin doing a dueling duet (complete w/cameo windows) while Miss Piggy did water ballet in THE GREAT MUPPET CAPER?!

    mark
    aka pastor guy

    Kermit: “We’ll catch ’em red-handed.”
    Beauregard: “What color are their hands now?”

  2. I’ve always thought Rowlf was fashioned after Tom Waits. Watching the clip above has me convinced that the song was inspired by Tom’s “Better Off Without A Wife” from his “Nighthawks At The Diner” album. Here’s a clip of him performing the song on Soundstage.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PV7bxC0UVMM&feature=related

    Compare and make your own assumptions.

  3. If you like that stuff, you might also really enjoy the They Might Be Giants kids albums, “Here Come the 123s” and “Here Come the ABCs”

  4. Was watching Sesame Street recently with my own little squirt, and there was a cool new version of Bein’ Green, sung by Oscar instead of Kermit, and with grouch-ified lyrics. It sounds like a bad messin-with-a-classic idea on paper, but I thought they really made it work.

  5. I just ordered the Sesame Street cd “Sing the Alphabet” where there is a song for every letter. When I was a kid I had these on records and I played them on a Fisher Price record player. It’s not quite the same having it on cd for my own little goober but it does the job.

    Our current favorite: Oscar’s “B” sandwich.
    (“chomp, chomp, chomp…needs more bubble gum”)

  6. Completely predictable, but I’ve never been to be able to go past ‘rainbow connection’.

    Recently stumbled upon this amazing tribute to Jim played by a guy called Tom Smith and performed at, of all places, a comics convention. Massive man, massive heart:

    A Boy and his Frog

    Yeah. I cried. But it was for the boy within, ok?

  7. For some internetty reason, I was once asked to name my five favorite songs, and to my mild surprise, I realized that 60% of that list were sung by Muppets:

    I’m Going to Go Back There Some Day: “There’s not a word yet for old friends who’ve just met.” I met those old friends ten years ago, and my life has been magical ever since. Gonzo singing this song, followed by Kermit’s internal conversation is my favorite scene in all of film.

    The Rainbow Connection: Kermit’s love song to The Earth captures my belief in magic and beauty and art far better than I will ever be able to express myself.

    I Don’t Want to Live On the Moon: “Though I would like to look down on the Earth from above, I would miss all the faces of people I love.” When I heard this song, I learned everything I needed to know about adventure and love and irony. I was three. I’ve never heard a better song since.

  8. Furry Happy Monsters by REM was always my favorite. Sometimes, celebrities come on Sesame Street, and take themselves too seriously. It’s always a lot better when they come on and do a bit of self parody.

    And how could you forget “Mahamana?” (the Do do de do do song.)

  9. I still can’t hear the Beetles song Let Her Be without hearing the title line as the Muppet rendition Letter B. And I haven’t actually re-heard the Muppet song since I originally heard it as a wee one.

  10. I second the adoration of “I love trash” and am grateful for the Aerosmith download. Never knew that existed.

  11. I was a bit too old for Seasame Street when it debuted but it didn’t stop me from enjoying the music in a big way. If you go by my recollection alone, my college’s spirit band only knew two songs, one of which was Rubber Duckie. (The other was the Lumberjack song from Monty Python)

  12. The “Capital I” song was my favorite, followed by the “Manamana” song (reprised on the Muppet Show). Though “I Love Trash” is also quite catchy. :)

    And what about Bert’s “La la la la lump in my oatmeal!”

  13. Last time I was at my parents’ house, I found my old Bert and Ernie Sing-a-Long record, so I used my dad’s stereo to copy it on to tape. The kids love it. I think my favorites were “What’s the Name of that Song” and “Sing”.

  14. Seconding Isaac on I Don’t Want to Live on the Moon. It can still make me tear up on occasion…

    (And here it is in Dutch!)

    My favorite Sesame Street character was Grover, and I vividly remember that this was my favorite sketch, although I loved the Grover the Waiter sketches in general. Oh, Fat Blue, will you *ever* successfully get a meal at a restaurant??

    I also remember, but have been completely unable to track down any trace of, a song that involved someone singing, over and over again, “I was so flabbergasted! I was so flabbergasted!” I might be making that one up, but I could swear it was real.

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