When I was younger, I loved Sesame Street, especially the Muppets. I still have cassette tapes (that’s audio, not video) of bits from the show. I’d spend the night at my best friend’s house and we’d lie on the bunk beds doing Ernie and Bert routines. Honestly, I was really too old for Sesame Street. Thank goodness The Muppet Show came around and made it cool to like the Muppets (or at least to admit liking them). According to the Muppet Wiki, this album was actually recorded in 1984 with Jim Henson and a piano. An orchestra was added to the tracks and the album wasn’t released until 1993 (three years after Henson’s death). I really enjoy this one. Here’s a few of the songs from the record.
A number of the songs sound like they might have been old vaudeville (or, since this was filmed in England, music hall) songs, which means they’re short, to the point, and fit the style of The Muppet Show very well. This song was originally sung by Gonzo on the show, who performs a more playful version of it (even though I believe the instrumental arrangement might be exactly the same). Considering the subject matter, you might think Gonzo was more sincere about the situation!
The next song, “Carbon Paper,” is in a similar vein. “You put a piece of carbon paper under your heart, and gave me just a copy of your love.” The song is hilarious, but I wonder how many people even know what carbon paper is anymore!
Not all the songs were older, though. Here’s Rowlf’s rendition of the Billy Joel song “New York State of Mind.” This was originally performed by Floyd on the show, and he performed it as well on an old Muppet Show album. Rowlf’s version is gruffer, but still quite effective.
I tend to gravitate to the sillier songs, so I’ll throw one more of those in here. “You and I and George” is a romantic song, Rowlf says in the intro, even though George “reaches an untimely end somewhere before bar 13.”
Finally, I had to put in this last one. Rowlf (who you remember is voiced by Jim Henson) sings Kermit’s signature song, “Bein’ Green.” It’s fascinating hearing Henson (who must have performed this song dozens if not hundreds of times as Kermit) singing it as one of his other characters. It’s also a credit to his talent that you honestly feel like it’s a different person interpreting the lyrics.
If you want to hear more of this wonderful album, you can hear it here. Here’s another little plug: If I figured my weeks correctly, I will also be presenting my very first Friday Mixtape later on in the week. If you like the stuff I feature here, you should enjoy it as well. If not, better luck next Friday I guess!