Friday Five: Sesame Street

Juli Thanki | July 24th, 2009

If you’ve read the news—or our July playlist—you know that 2009 is the 40-year anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Also celebrating a 40th anniversary is children’s program Sesame Street. When you think about it, which of these two entities has had a greater impact on the daily lives of Americans?

In recent years, country artists including Wynonna Judd, Alison Krauss and Union Station and Sugarland have been featured on Sesame Street, but today we’re going to rummage through the archives and visit some of Sesame Street’s classic country moments. If you were a kid, or had a kid, sometime in the past few decades, you probably saw these during their original airings. You may still know all the words. But if not, check ‘em out now!

  • 5. “Songs Are for Singing” – Loretta Lynn
    Lynn gathers up a bunch of kids that aren’t her own to sing a song about singing songs and climbing mountains and loving people. It’s nice enough…until those little punks join in on the chorus.

  • 4. “You’ve Got to Ask Some Questions” – Randy Travis
    Here a baby-faced Travis sings about the importance of asking questions. Here’s one: what’s up with that shirt/turtleneck combo? All kidding aside, this is a pretty cool song; should Randy decide to rerecord it for his next album, I wouldn’t complain.

  • 3. “Wavin’ Goodbye With My Heart” – “Polly Darton”
    Dolly Parton may be the only country singer to have her own Sesame Street avatar. This one is a favorite from my childhood, and probably more than a little responsible for my current musical tastes. In this song, Darton waves goodbye to her dog with various body parts. Not those parts, you creep. This is a children’s program.

  • 2. “Don’t Take Your Ones To Town” – Johnny Cash
    Cash chalked up multiple appearances on Sesame Street (his mid-70s performance of “Nasty Dan” with Oscar the Grouch is another winner) but none beat this story of a “cowbird” who gathers up his collection of ones and hits the road. Instead of a shootout, though, in this song there’s an altercation with The Count and his wife.
  • 1. “Ain’t No Road Too Long” – Waylon Jennings
    This song comes from horribly traumatizing 1985 film Follow That Bird. Big Bird gets sent to live with a family of birds, but his new family totally sucks, so Big Bird runs away and tries to get back to Sesame Street. Clearly, the best start to a safe and healthy journey home involves getting into a stranger’s truck (Great lesson there, Sesame.) Luckily that stranger is Waylon Jennings, who offers up some inspirational words in the form of a catchy song that’ll probably be stuck in your head for the rest of the day. It’s stuck in mine for 24 years.

  1. Leeann Ward
    July 24, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    This is the best!

  2. Ken Morton Jr
    July 24, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    Juli, you’ve outdone yourself. Best Friday Five ever.

  3. Rick
    July 24, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    So Juli, when do we get the “Country Songs From Pee Wee’s Playhouse” edition? (lol) It’s hard to beat Pee Wee’s short take on “Deep In The Heart Of Texas”…

  4. Sam Sattler
    July 24, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    Those are absolutely great. I remember seeing a couple of them before, but all five are classic. That show was so far ahead of it’s time that it’s still fun to watch for a few minutes at a time.

  5. Andrew Lacy
    July 24, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    Also in the category of country stars performing with puppets, Garth Brooks singing “If I Were A Rich Man” on Muppets Tonight was TV gold. Unfortunately, Youtube doesn’t seem to have the clip.

  6. Leeann Ward
    July 24, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    Andrew, I loved that. I’ve tried to find it on youtube, but no luck. I was starting to wonder if it was just my imagination.

  7. Jessica
    July 25, 2009 at 12:03 am

    This is just downright hilarious. I remember that Waylon clip when I stumbled upon it a couple of months ago. Thanks for posting those Juli!

  8. Lucas
    July 26, 2009 at 11:22 am

    When I was about 5, I remember being EXTREMELY excited that my Dad was bringing me to see Sesame Street live. We were barely scraping by and going to something like that wasn’t something I would have ever expected. I don’t, however, remember Randy Travis being there.

    The Waylon Jennings scene was fantastic. Big Bird taught us all a HORRIBLE lesson about hitch hiking. Waylon taught us he’s a better singer on Sesame Street than most others are on the radio.

  9. Rick
    July 27, 2009 at 1:31 am

    Forget these country artists, I’d rather listen to the Muppets song “Mahna Mahna”…(lol)

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