Kieran Moore – Hi Ho everybody! Welcome to a brand new series of articles here on The Muppet Mindset. My name is Kieran and when I’m not obsessing over Muppets (like that ever happens) me and my brother Zaron host a weekly top 10 chart show where we count down our top 10 songs on a particular theme. It might be Mythical Creatures, Father’s Day or Songs on Noah’s iPod, but for one week only we broke with tradition and in honor of what would have been his birthday played 10 songs all by the same artist, namely one Jim Henson (you may have heard of him). So I picked and played my 100% Official Definitive List of the Best Jim Henson Songs Ever.
I suggested turning the show into an article for Muppet Mindset and the rest, as they say, is history. I plan to work my way through as many of the main Muppet performers as I can before Ryan kicks me out, but if you want me to get to your favorite quicker, let me know in the comments box. My only rule for this chart is that Jim must be the only performer apart from the odd bit of backing vocals.
Here we go:
10. Cottleston Pie – Rowlf
This spot quickly became known as the food slot as just about every song that nearly made it in to tenth place had some edible connection. From the Chef singing “Oh Yes, We Have No Bananas” to Dr. Teeth’s version of “Cheesecake” the first space in our top ten was definitely going to be tasty! Ultimately, Cottleston Pie won out because it’s such a great song and definitively Muppety. Not only do the lyrics by AA Milne use fuzzy Muppet logic, the song was also performed at Jim’s memorial service so it’s the perfect way to start.
9. A Song from Kermit – Kermit
I must admit as someone who grew up in the UK my Sesame Street knowledge is minimal compared to some other Muppet fans so I wasn’t familiar with this song at first. However, as soon as I heard it, it instantly became one of my favourite ever Kermit songs. The theme of wanting to send a message to someone no longer around is universal and strikes a particular chord in my heart. It’s a big subject to tackle on a children’s TV show and this song does it so simply it’s breathtaking. I did wonder about including too many introspective Kermit songs (as there are some classics to come), but this song was too special to miss out.
8. Time in a Bottle – The Chemist
My second introspective song (does Cottleston Pie count?) is nestled on The Muppet Show between Fozzie’s farcical ventriloquism act and chickens playing the piano and is this sweet, yet sadly sour, song about the passing of time and wishing you had more of it. From Time Piece to Labyrinth to Tick-Tock Sick, this seemed to be a theme throughout Jim’s work. I’m sure we all wish he’d had more time as well…
7. Money – Dr. Teeth
And now for something upbeat! It seems that all of Jim’s regular characters are supremely musical so choosing how to get a good mix of characters in this chart was tough and sadly Dr. Teeth was one of the casualties as he features in the chart just once. Truth be told, because of my Jim only rule pretty much all Electric Mayhem songs were out of bounds so this solo number for Dr. Teeth was the best way to go. This is my favourite of his solos and showcases his gold-toothed avaricious side. It also has its place in Henson history as one of the songs lip-synched to in Sam and Friends – so it’s doubly perfect! I’d like to add an honourable mention to You Can’t Take No for an Answer from The Muppets Take Manhattan as well at this point.
6. I Hope That Somethin’ Better Comes Along – Kermit and Rowlf
One of the great things about this chart is that even though we’re limited to one performer we can still have duets! My first pick from a Muppet Movie (not just THE Muppet Movie), I love that this song explores the more grown up aspects of The Muppets. Would we ever hear Bert and Ernie singing about problems with the opposite sex? Let’s not go there…
I also love the Matt Nathanson version from The Green Album; the church like organs played at the start turn the song into something spiritual, changing our hopes into prayers. When I’m next on a TV singing contest this is what I’ll sing for “Movie Week”.
5. I Don’t Want To Live on the Moon – Ernie
This is our second trip to Sesame Street and although there are some songs which are arguably more synonymous with Ernie such as Rubber Duckie; I Don’t Want to Live on the Moon was always going to be my pick for him. Many, many years ago I bought an old cassette of Ernie songs at a garage sale and this song with its theme of home and family really spoke to me as soon as I heard it. I completely agree with Ernie in this song. I sing as part of an a capella trio and we were required a few years ago to perform some children’s songs and this was one of my suggestions. We ultimately chose Ladybug Picnic and Dixie Wailin’, but I’d love to sing this properly sometime.
4. I Never Harmed an Onion – Rowlf
Rowlf’s third entry on the chart sees him at his best. Although the original song predates The Muppet Show this could have been written for Rowlf as he channel’s his Dr. Bob punning persona and admits his culinary transgressions. This song features on one of my favorite albums “Ol Brown Ears is Back”. The album was recorded in 1984, but not released until 1993 which is an absolute tragedy. If you ever find a copy – buy it! I also considered You and I and George to showcase Rowlf’s fun side, but this is more of a song and less of a string of jokes so it just edged it.
3. Bein’ Green – Kermit
Now we’re getting into the big classics. I’m sure some would pick this as they’re number 1 and in terms of cultural significance they’d certainly have a very valid argument, but I never connected with this song in the way I did with some of Kermit’s others. It didn’t speak to me personally. A song which didn’t make my radio list for seasonal reasons, but deserves a mention here is The Christmas Wish from the “A Christmas Together” album. I love, love, love this song and it resonates with me in a way that Bein’ Green doesn’t. I’ve followed the chart as I presented it on the day, but I genuinely don’t know if Bein’ Green would have taken this slot if I’d included Christmas songs. It seems a bit odd to be running down my number 3 pick and I do love Kermit’s rendition of this song (though I will admit I hate the Ray Charles version with a passion!)
2. Let Me Be Your Song – Cantus
I’m sure you’ve all been waiting for a Fraggle Rock song – and here it is! Making this song number 2 instead of number 1 (I can’t believe I’m working for an amphibian) was one of the toughest choices I had to make on the whole chart. This only really lost out due to the cultural significance of the song at number 1 (surely you’ve worked it out by now). Written by one of the best Muppet song writing teams ever of Philip Balsam and Dennis Lee, this is very nearly the perfect song, brilliantly performed by Jim who seems to be the spiritual twin of Cantus by all accounts. I’m evangelical about Fraggle Rock because I think if the right people watched it world peace would be organised a lot quicker and Cantus would be right at the front heralding the message of love and harmony. This song will be one of the Muppet songs played at my funeral.
1. Rainbow Connection – Kermit
What can I say about Rainbow Connection? I know there has been online debate about whether this or Bein’ Green is Kermit’s “theme song”, but for me it’s Rainbow Connection all the way. Kermit first sings “The lovers, the dreamers and me”, but by the end of the movie when the song is being reprised it’s “The lovers, the dreamers and you”. This sums up not just the philosophy of the movie, – “[It’s] the kind of dream that gets better the more people you share it with and well I’ve found a whole bunch of friends who have the same dream and it kind of makes us like a family” – but also in my humble opinion the philosophy of the Muppets in general. By inviting us, the fans, to share in their dream we can become part of the family. It’s right there in that handful of words. The rainbow connection IS magic, it’s the friendships we make and the dreams we share and I thank Kermit and Jim for sharing their dreams with us.
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, firstname.lastname@example.org