Ryan Dosier – Jerry Nelson released his solo album, Truro Daydreams, back in 2009. One of the biggest regrets I have when it comes to The Muppet Mindset is that I never took the time to post a review of the album for Jerry Nelson to read. So here I am today to explore this album that has brought me hours of listening bliss. I’ll delve deep into each song, all the while imploring you to go buy Jerry’s beautiful opus for yourself for only $10 for digital download or $14 for the physical CD.
“Alligators” is the album’s opening track, and what an opening it provides. This song was destined to one day carry Jerry Nelson’s vocals (obviously, since he wrote it) and he has never sounded better. The lyrics are incredibly fun and the way Jerry carries a word or sings a phrase is impeccable. What stands out the most on this song is just Jerry being Jerry. He is clearly overjoyed singing this song and it shows in the recording. The simple rhythm, the powerful lyrics, and Jerry’s excellent vocal tones make the perfect opening to an exciting album. It keeps your ears glued and riveted so that you absolutely have to keep listening. “Alligators” carries a weight with its lyrics that is lifted by Jerry’s upbeat performance. “All that alligator crap” is a rather somber idea in the sense of the song, but Jerry’s delivery makes it fly with spirit.
“Little Red” is Jerry’s take on the classic Red Riding Hood tale, so you know it’s bound to be great… and it is. Jerry brings in Kevin Clash and Fran Brill to play the Big Bad Wolf and Little Red Riding Hood, respectively. This is a much sillier song with lyrics and music to match. The horns in the background of this song are incredibly fun and clearly played with passion. Jerry’s guitar playing and soulful, storied voice of the “narrator” in this song remind me of the old Warner Bros. cartoon shorts, and Kevin and Fran coming in periodically as their characters only enhance that. Someone should really set this song to animation. The results would be magic, although this song is pretty near magic already.
“Bumblebees” is a slower, lazy day piece that still retains Jerry’s trademark musical sensibilities. The lyrics sing of nature and relaxing and exude coolness. For example… “The moon’s climbin’ high in a buttermilk sky, so fine don’t it make you wanna shout?” Perhaps the most soulful lyric on the entire album is located on this track as Jerry sings “Cause life’s a celebration, it’s a dance of up and down. Get back, double your investment. You wear a smile and not a frown!” Although this song sounds slow, it is truly a celebration of life’s little wonders that Jerry loved.
“Be Positive” opens with a lively trumpet riff that gives way to my favorite song on the album. It’s part easy listening, part island music, all Jerry Nelson. “Negativity will make you go slow!” Jerry implores to us. This is an anthem of Jerry’s upbeat nature, his always-smiling demeanor, and his penchant for fun. The music is lively, the lyrics are genuine, and Jerry sounds a bit like the Count as he sings, which always makes me smile. I think my favorite part of this wonderful song is the rhymes that Jerry comes up with. He rhymes change and rearrange, Roy and boy, and a string of four rhymes with slow, go, low, and know. It’s not that these are revolutionary rhymes, but the way Jerry chooses to use them is amazing.
“Hoboken Honey” is Jerry’s profession of love and admiration for his dear wife Jan. It’s not your traditional love ballad, by any means, but it is still incredibly powerful. Jerry is honest and real and loving, calling his Hoboken Honey his “baby lamb” and a slew of other beautiful turns of phrase and sweet nothings. She thrills him day by day, she provides ecstasy and harmony. Jerry let’s us in on his muse and gives us all hope that we can find our own Hoboken Honey. Based on this song, if everyone had the same sort of love as Jerry Nelson did for Jan, it would be a happier world.
“Zanzibar” is a song that harkens to hearing about someone’s vacation, only Jerry tells us about his in the most riveting, passionate way possible. He sings of the nature and beauty and wonder of Zanzibar. Based on the lyrics, it seemed that Jerry was truly, infinitely happy when he vacationed here, and that alone makes me love this song. This is probably the song I return to least on Truro Daydreams, but every time I do I’m reminded of the power and silky sweet beauty that Jerry can bring to a song.
“Tides” is the most beautiful song on the album. The slow rhythm of pure Jerry Nelson and his acoustic guitar opens the ballad and sustains it throughout. “Everything is the way it should be,” croons Jerry, and you feel that he truly believes it. I really can’t even explain the power and beauty of this song, as it should be listened and experienced. Jerry Nelson evokes harmony and peace with delightful ease. I think this song shows Jerry’s true spirit. He recognizes the ebb and flow of the tides, he understands that fate is fate and “everything is what it is naturally.” This song seems completely natural to Jerry, for Jerry, and is Jerry.
“Noah’s Ark” has Jerry calling on some Muppeteer friends again as Tyler Bunch, Stephanie D’Abruzzo, and Leslie Carrara-Rudolph join in the fun, providing harmony and silly animal noises throughout the song. Another fun, silly song in the vein of “Little Red” with Jerry’s joyful lyrics lighting up the track. He uses the word bodacious, which just screams Jerry Nelson. This song is so much fun that it seems pointless to analyze it further. It’s just a bouncy, delightful display of Jerry’s charm and humor.
“Eye of The Storm” is the most personal song on the track as Jerry sings about friends and loved ones who have passed on after their time in the “eye of that storm.” Yet, to anyone who doesn’t know the history, this is not a somber song. Instead, it’s just a powerful guitar-focused piece with Jerry’s best vocals on the album. However, if you know who Jerry is, then the names Richard and Jim have so many other meanings. This song brought tears to my eyes the first time I heard it. Not because it’s inherently sad, but because hearing Jerry sing so powerfully about his friends Richard Hunt and Jim Henson is amazing. The song’s most touching element is its final verse, dedicated to Christine, Jerry’s daughter who died far, far too young. The deep sadness Jerry feels can be heard in his words in this, the album’s best track.
“Get Yourself Free, Happy Little Song” closes Truro Daydreams on a shining note as Jerry segues beautifully from powerful tributes to the happiest track on the album. It’s mostly just Jerry on his guitar singing his happy little song. It’s hard not to forget about woe, as Jerry tells us, when listening to this. “It’s always darkest before the dawn, but dawn a big grin and carry on and let the silver lining come shining through” is what I always take away from this song. Jerry wants everyone to free themselves from sadness, sing a little happy little song, and remember what a great life we live. In light of recent events, this has never been more meaningful.
In conclusion, you should really, really buy this album. Not only is it filled with ten incredible tracks from an amazing singer, songwriter, and human being, but it is the perfect representation of Jerry Nelson. His essence, life, spirit, and soul shine through on this album of his personal songs. Jerry’s lyrics are poetry and his music is beauty itself played out through instruments. Go buy this album. You won’t regret it.
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, firstname.lastname@example.org