Kieran Moore – After I finished my initial run of Muppet performer charts and started to look at other subjects, one of the most obvious choices was the Sesame Street humans. Sadly, this never came to fruition (for a couple of reasons), but that doesn’t diminish the wonderful musical contribution the human cast of Sesame Street have made over the last 40+ years.
With the recent and sudden news that Roscoe Orman, Emilio Delgado and Bob McGrath are departing the show, it seemed only right that my little chart series paid tribute to them through the medium of song.
So sit back, relax, raise a glass, reminisce and enjoy as these three legends do what they do best…
10 – Welcome/Bienvenidos – Bob & Luis
I can’t think of a better way to begin a top 10 chart than with this song. I might start them like this every week from now on! You’ll see on this chart that there are a lot of songs about community and friendship and I think that’s really what the adults on Sesame Street teach us. While the Muppets are discussing triangles or numbers the humans are showing us how to interact with our fellow man. Of course there are shades of gray within that black and white assessment, but I think it’s broadly true. Emilio and Bob blend really nicely here, but then they’re such polished performers they would, wouldn’t they?
9 – The Arrow Song – Emilio Delgado
This is pure Sesame Street. Without having Luis onscreen we can really focus on Emilio’s voice. I think sometimes up against phenomenal singers like Bob McGrath it’s easy to forget just how good Emilio is, but this proves that he’s every bit as accomplished. This might be the most random song on this list, but I love Sesame Street’s sillier moments so this scores big points from me. As well as being fun to listen to it’s a hoot to watch so make sure you do!
8 – Let Your Feelings Show – Gordon
To be perfectly honest I think most other weeks this song would be top 5 so I feel kind of bad that it’s so low. Roscoe has the perfect voice for this soft ballad. I wish I could hit some of those lower notes and make them sound as good. His bass/baritone register is a nice contrast to the tenors or female voices he often duets with on the show. This song has beautiful lyrics, written by David Axlerod, while the soothing music is from Sam Pottle. It’s simply beautiful.
7 – Believe in Yourself – Luis
This song has a similar affirmative message to the previous one, but is much jollier about it. This sounds like it wouldn’t be out of place on Broadway (apart from the audience participation of course – I’m not sure that would work for “Les Miserables”). Once again we get a bright and breezy vocal from Emilio, and it really helps to sweep the song along. I’m fairly sure I’ll be humming this for the rest of the day. And quite possibly forever. With its wonderful message I’m not sure that’s necessarily a bad thing!
6 – The People in Your Neighborhood – Bob
I can’t listen to this without hearing Rowlf and Fozzie Bear. It was very nice of them to join Bob for this classic Sesame Street song. This is arguably the most famous tune on today’s list, but it won’t be the last to have “neighbourhood” in its title. There is never enough xylophone in music in my opinion so I’m pleased that this is blazing a trail for percussionists everywhere. The “fireman” makes me laugh – you can always rely on Frank Oz to raise a smile. Finally, I really like the harmonies at the end of this – bravo to Jim Henson!
5 – If I Had a Kid – Gordon
This song just melts my heart and I bet it does for a lot of other people too. I’m happily child-free and that was a conscious decision, but this song gets even my biological clock ticking. This is a heavy piece of film. As much as Sesame Street never shies away from tricky subjects I do wonder how much kids really understood about this song beyond its sweet message about family. Thankfully, this song has a happy ending because in 1985 Gordon and Susan adopted Miles and everything he sings about here comes true (with a slight change in sex).
4 – Boy from Indiana – Bob
This is a lovely song and it just carries me away every time I listen to it. I genuinely think this is the best singing performance you’ll hear on this list. Bob McGrath has a fabulous singing voice. Away from Sesame Street he’s had a pretty stellar career as a recording artist and while it’s impossible to imagine the show without him, it’s not hard to picture Bob being famous as a performer in his own right. Although I in no way think I could do this song justice in the way that Bob does I’d like to have a go at singing it myself sometime. Its lilting feel would make a great lullaby.
3 – Baa Baa Bamba – Luis
This song appeared on my recent “Sheep” chart and my love for it hasn’t diminished any since then. Unsurprisingly, lots of Luis’ songs feature Spanish lyrics and a Latin feel. I’d always known that Spanish was an important language in the U.S., but my recent trip to Los Angeles really opened my eyes up to just why. Sesame Street’s message of diversity and acceptance is so important and characters such as Luis and Maria are very important to that. It’s easy to forget the role the humans play in teaching kids about respecting other cultures when flashier characters such as Oscar do the same. This tune is perfect for dancing to and I love its acoustic folksy feel.
2 – Soul Food – Gordon
Any song that is happy to start with several seconds of nothing but the sounds of pots boiling is ok in my book! I love the party feel of this number with its steel drum calypso vibe, but this is calypso music with “soul”. I really, really like this. From the orchestration and vocal breakdown to Gordon’s smooth delivery and effortless cool, there is nothing to criticise here. I also love soul food so it’s a double whammy for me! This is another song where community is an overriding theme which leads us neatly onto our top spot song…
1 – Here in my Neighborhood – Bob
In light of recent events it’s almost impossible to listen to the words of this song and not feel incredibly sad. This was written by Alan Menken and I can’t think of a better tribute to Bob, Roscoe and Emilio than his words so I’ll let them be the final tribute.
I do have to add a final personal thank you though to these three amazing men. It really would be impossible to even try to describe the impact they’ve had on the world. Thank You Guys. You’ll be missed.