Kieran Moore – For my first Top 10 chart of 2015 I figured I should feature one of the big hitters of the Muppet world. I still have plenty to choose from, but deep down I knew that it just had to be Dave Goelz that I shone the spotlight on first. As Dave would be the first to admit, he’s an accidental performer, starting out originally as a puppet builder before graduating to fully-fledged Muppeteer and yet his characters are some of the most beloved of the Muppet world which is surely a testament to his skills. I’m not sure of the facts and figures, but after Carrol Spinney he must be one of the longest serving Muppeteers and every one of his signature characters is a cult classic. It has made choosing just 10 musical numbers incredibly hard and while I’m confident that there are some songs (and probably characters/shows) I’ve missed this is due to the quality of the body of work I had to choose from not laziness on my part! Every single song is this chart is a bona fide Muppet classic in my opinion. So let’s get on with it!
10. Love in a Laundromat – Gonzo and Camilla from The Muppets at Walt Disney World
“Love in a Laundromat, who would have thought of that?” Only Gonzo and Camilla it would seem, although on second thoughts I’d love to know how many couples found their eyes meeting over a box of detergent! This is such a great song. Not only does it feature in one of the best things the Muppets ever made, but it focusses on the Gonzo/Camilla relationship which I find every bit as interesting as Kermit/Piggy. I love the fact that Camilla truly seems to be Gonzo’s soulmate. Gonzo doesn’t just love her because he has a thing for chickens, they “get” each other as is shown here. I really enjoy the way Dave delivers the line “You set me spinning, if you know what I mean.” There is no doubt about what he means. This special is part of the reason that I really wanted to visit WDW when I was younger so I thank it for giving me that goal.
9. Get Blue (Goin’ Down The Road) – Boober from Fraggle Rock
As anyone who’s read my previous charts will know I have a soft spot for Fraggle Rock (it’s awesome) and I especially have a soft spot for the songs on the old VHS sing along video they produced, of which this is one. It feels a bit like Boober’s mission statement as it outlines all the reasons he has to “get blue.” I think it’s brilliant that he doesn’t believe that people are happy! I also really like the fact that he gets so upset with the various creatures that join in with the Doo be Doo’s. Boober is such a great character and Dave plays him so well. As we know from early Gonzo, no one does morose like Dave and he’s at his peak here.
8. Room in Your Heart – Bunsen and Beaker from The Muppet Christmas Carol
This song makes me feel both happy and sad in equal measure. It’s a great song, performed with gusto by two characters that hardly ever get to sing and yet we never got to see it performed. I can see why they removed it, as it would have slowed down the first act of the movie and wasn’t totally needed, but still knowing it exists and being able to hear its coolness is tortuous. I can see Dave performing this with just the right amount of Bunsen campiness because the vocal is just right for that. I can picture Bunsen’s hand movements and everything… sigh!
7. Party Hard (Who Knows What You See) – Boober & Sidebottom from Fraggle Rock
What a great song! Here we are at number 7 and we’re already listening to songs that deserve to be so much higher. I love the fact that Sidebottom exists as Boober’s alter ego as he turns what could be a very one dimensional character in another show into a fully rounded one. In a show that features diversity as a central theme it’s really important that we also learn to like ourselves, flaws and all, which is what Bobber does with Sidebottom. Has anyone else noticed that Sidebottom sounds an awful lot like Boober mixed with Gonzo (especially the laugh)? I actually think it’s kind of cool. Both have a weird, manic streak so I like the link. It’s a nice little reminder that Dave is under both Gonzo and Boober.
6. Act Naturally – Gonzo from The Muppet Show
For a while this song was in the Top 5 of the chart, but it got bumped at the last minute. The old comedy trope of someone’s reflection not copying what they do is employed expertly here. And it turns what could actually be quite a melancholy song into something humorous. The lyrics are basically saying that the singer is a sad, lonely fool and that he’s the best at being so. Pretty sad when you think about it and yet this up-tempo number is played for laughs. Dave’s reactions as Gonzo are priceless. I’d love to know if any part of this song was performed with an actual mirror because if not, the puppetry is excellent.
5. I’m Never Alone – Boober from Fraggle Rock
This fun, jazzy number has everything going for it including whistling that could compete with Walter! This is pretty much the direct opposite of the song “Get Blue.” Here, Boober extols the virtues of being alone and how happy one can be all by themselves. This song makes me wonder if Boober is actually the most comfortable within himself out of the Fraggle Five. I can only imagine how hard it would have been to puppeteer the verse where Boober sings and beats the rocks with sticks. If Dave was performing even just one of those hands it’s amazing. And even if he wasn’t it’s pretty cool anyway!
4. The Wishing Song – Gonzo from The Muppet Show
Now we’re getting into the really big hitters. This is such a special song and the version from the actual show has much more resonance than the album recording where Gonzo kind of comes across as mean to the chicken who cheers him up. This song has extra meaning to me as it reminds me of someone special who is no longer around. Just under four years ago my younger sister passed away aged just 20. She was the Gonzo in my life (and Gonzo was her favorite Muppet) and I said as much in her eulogy. Every Gonzo song reminds me of her to a certain extent, but this one especially so. I’m not sure why. Dave is at his heart breaking best here. There’s not much more to say really. Watch the video and witness perfection.
3. Follow Me – Uncle Traveling Matt and Gobo from Fraggle Rock
This is a Fraggle Rock classic and for me it’s up there with “Let Me Be Your Song” in its significance. It sets up one of Fraggle Rock’s big themes of exploration which becomes even more important as the show goes on. I truly love this song and it’s one that I’m happy to admit that I still listen to as a grown up. As we see later on in Fraggle Rock it was previously sung by Matt to his Uncle Gobo so it has special meaning when he passes it down to the next generation. I think we’ve all felt the wanderlust that’s being sung about here. Dave and Jerry harmonize so well in this song. I could listen to it all day.
2. The Friendship Song – Boober and Red from Fraggle Rock
This song just sneaks the number 2 spot from “Follow Me” because it brings back such memories of when I watched this episode as a kid. I remember being so caught up in Boober and Red’s plight and really feeling the emotion when they sung this song. It’s exquisitely performed by Dave and Karen Prell. It’s not just sung, it’s performed. Their delivery is pitch-perfect and you believe every word, every voice crack and every tear. I’ll admit that I’ve struggled to put into words just how much I love both this song and the previous entry, because they are so special to me. Just know that to me they are two of the best songs ever in the whole universe and that is enough!
1. I’m Going To Go Back There Someday – Gonzo from The Muppet Movie
There was never really any question that this song wouldn’t be number 1 on the list. This might be my favorite Muppet song ever and yet it’s still relatively unknown outside of Muppet fandom. I did a quick straw poll yesterday of my Facebook friends where asking them to name one Muppet song and within the first four answers I got the three I expected: “Bein’ Green,” Mahna Mahna,” and “Rainbow Connection,” but no one mentioned this song and that’s a tragedy. Along with “Let Me Be Your Song” I intend to have this song played at my funeral. It kind of sums up my philosophy on life. It raises the question I’ve asked many times before: do my beliefs match up with those of The Muppets by coincidence or did The Muppets shape my beliefs? This song is so perfect for Gonzo. As a unique “whatever,” Gonzo absolutely embodies this song. “There’s not a word yet for old friends you’ve just met.” What a great line. Maybe that word is Muppet. I love the concept of “invisible strings,” so much so that I “borrowed” the term for some lyrics for an amateur musical I wrote. This song really has had an impact on my life!
So as is now customary, it’s time to thank Dave for everything he’s given us the fans and (especially) me personally. Dave, you’ve given me laughter and tears, you’ve given me a line I use more often than I should (“Off to Zanzibar to meet the Zanzibarbarians!”), you’ve helped shape my philosophy on life and most of all you’ve helped me make sense of things at times when not much did. I hope with all my heart you get to read this so that you know just how much you are appreciated. Perhaps there’s a word for old friends you’ve NEVER met and that word’s “Dave”. Thank you.
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, email@example.com