(On Recalling Some Classic Sesame Street Songs)
Many of those who were children in the early ’70s would gladly agree that Sesame Street was one of the most beloved children’s television shows of the decade.
Regardless of what many overly politically correct detractors might have to say about the show (like, for instance, Cookie Monster’s being not a good role model because of his unhealthy diet and the insinuation that Ernie and Bert are homosexuals because they live in the same house), Sesame Street remains an influential learning foundation on languages, mathematics, values, and music for many children of the ’70s and the ’80s.
Music is an important component of Sesame Street, or of perhaps any children’s show. And through its more than 40 years, Sesame Street has produced countless songs that have become parts of pop culture. Here are some of such songs, now regarded as classics. Listening to these would surely give any old fan of the show nostalgic feelings.
“C Is for Cookie,” written by Joe Raposo, released in 1971, is a song that teaches children about the letter C. The original segment of this song features Cookie Monster with a cookie in his hand, singing the song while standing behind a big letter C. The black backdrop slowly lightens to reveal his backup singers—fellow monsters Grover, Fenwick, Herry Monster, Oscar the Grouch, and Billy.
“lowercase n,” written by Steve Zuckerman, first appeared on the show in 1972, is a song basically about the letter n. However, the lyric actually focuses on the sense of belonging and togetherness. It starts with “In a cold and far-off place / There was a lowercase n / Lonely and cold, she would stare off into space / And it was known that she would cry now and then…” Then it ends with “And then one day a rocketship came racing from the sky / It landed on the hill and there opened up a door / And something started coming outside / A lowercase n! / She’s not lonely anymore / They are standing on the hill / There are two that stand for sure / The wind is very still for the lowercase n’s!”
“I in the Sky,” written also by Steve Zuckerman, first aired in 1972, features three little men scrubbing and polishing a big letter I. Clearly the song teaches about hard work and teamwork.
“The Alligator King,” written by Donald Hadley (lyric) and William “Bud” Luckey (music) in 1971, is a song that tells the story of an alligator king who, feeling mighty down, offers his crown to whichever of his seven sons can cheer him up. The first six sons bring him various gifts, all of which result in harming him instead of doing him good. The seventh son, who comes without a gift, instead helps the king get up his feet after this has fallen down. Thus, aside from teaching how to count from one to seven, the song emphasizes that caring is more important than giving material things.
“The People in Your Neighborhood,” written by Jeff Moss in 1969, is a song introducing various people with different jobs.
“Rubber Duckie,” another one by Jeff Moss, written in 1970, is Ernie’s signature song. It shows Ernie in a tub with his rubber duckie, singing the song while having a bath.
“Pinball Number Count,” written by Walt Kraemer in 1976, is a series of animated segments each of which follows a pinball as it goes through an elaborate pinball machine. The lyric counts off from one to twelve, with each segment featuring a different number.
“Doin’ the Pigeon,” another one by Joe Raposo, written in 1973, is Bert’s signature song. The segment features Bert’s demonstrating a dance inspired by his favorite animal.
Finally, “Letter B” is a parody of the song “Let It Be” by The Beatles, with the new lyric written by Christopher Cerf in 1981. Sung in a segment by the four musical insects known as The Beetles, it teaches about words that begin with the letter B.
Each decade or every generation has its share of unforgettable and beloved children-oriented television shows, all of which have their own merits and values. However, to many who were children in the ’70s or the ’80s, nothing holds more dearly in their hearts and memories than Sesame Street with its colorful characters and sing-along song segments.