Singing on Sesame Street with Joe Raposo
The Joe Raposo Collection in the Library's Special Collections contains 56 of his autograph lead sheets, ranging from the theme music for Sesame Street to work for musicals like Raggedy Ann and the movie The Great Muppet Caper.
Gift of Pat Collins Sarnoff
"Bein' Green" was first performed live in 1970 by Kermit the Frog on the inaugural episode of Sesame Street. The song was the start of something special. Its complex, free-form lyrics shattered every convention of popular children's music, and within a year, Kermit recorded the song and earned his first platinum album.
The magic of "Bein' Green" captured the hearts of countless other singers, including Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles and Lena Horne. Over the years, the song has been adopted by many with a "green" identity: environmental groups, the Girl Scouts, the Boston Celtics. The song is even included in the most recent edition of the Presbyterian hymnal.
More than any other song in the Sesame Street repertoire, "Bein' Green" confirms the open-minded philosophy that informed the show's origins. The song's honest lyrics and simple melody transmit a poignant and affirming message about racial difference and pride.
"ABC-DEF-GHI" is a song that captures the wonder of beginning to read. Big Bird performed this piece during the first season of Sesame Street. Upon seeing the alphabet written out, one letter after the other, Big Bird exclaims: "Boy, look at that beautiful absolutely marvelous word!" He then attempts to figure out what it says: "It starts out like an 'A' word, as anyone can see. But somewhere in the middle it gets awfl'y 'QR' to me."
Big Bird didn't figure out the meaning of this new word right away, but as he struggled with its many parts, young viewers at home were given the opportunity to discover the wonder of the alphabet on their own.
"Five Song" is another classic from the first season of Sesame Street. This tune is still performed regularly on the show. Although it expanded slightly after the first season. Instead of just referring to "five coconuts," later versions of the song touted "five coconut cream pies!" balanced by a bedraggled baker at the top of a long staircase. Without fail, the poor baker lost his footing every time. As Raposo and Henson soon discovered, counting is especially fun when a little humor (and coconut cream pie) is thrown into the mix.
"C is for Cookie" serves as the theme song for children around the world and the famous blue, hairy creature on Sesame Street named Cookie Monster.
Cookie Monster didn't start his voracious career on Sesame Street. His earliest TV debut was in a General Foods commercial, where he and two equally hairy colleagues munched away on a variety of snack foods. Three years later he appeared in a Frito-Lay commercial, this time chomping down a bag of potato chips. But a life of TV commercials weren't in the hungry monster's future. When Sesame Street went into production in 1969, the blue, hairy food fanatic moved on to the next stage in his career.
Cookie Monster made his Sesame Street debut in the first episode, interfering with Kermit the Frog's "famous W lecture" by eating a model "W" bit by bit (turing it into an "N", a "V", and finally an "I") much to Kermit's frustration.