The educational TV show’s song encouraging kids not to be afraid of imaginary monsters has some unfortunate lyrics.
The 1970s were, in many ways, a more innocent time – a time when ‘a little girl’ could belt out a song about being bounced on the knee of a monster, and no one would think that there might just be something a bit off about the whole thing.
In 1975, children’s educational show Sesame Street featured a song that encouraged kids not to be afraid of imaginary monsters, and instead to see them as friendly figures. Sung onscreen by a muppet girl, but in real life by Marilyn Sokol, the song – written by Robert Pierce and Sam Pottle – was a classic bit of Sesame Street, mixing an educational message with humour and fun. With lyrics like “although they’re hairy and sometimes scary, they have such soft and furry paws”, the song set out to make a common childhood fear into something wholesome and cuddly – rather like Monsters Inc, years before it was made.
But the age of innocence was over by 1984, when one mother heard the song – which by had been shown on TV several times, appeared on two Sesame Street LPs and been released as a single – and decided that one lyrical segment was… well, a bit suspect.
Here are the lines that raised eyebrows.
If I make friends with a friendly monster
I’ll let him bounce me on his knee
I’ll let him do whatever he wants to
Especially if he’s bigger than me
Well. I can certainly see how that might be open to misinterpretation and could be seen as sending out quite the wrong message to children. Amazingly, no one had noticed this before the mother of two Marty Deming did, but once it was pointed out, it was hard to deny. The song was pulled from any further broadcasts and was removed from CD reissues of the two albums. It re-emerged several years later – with the offending lyrics removed and the arrangement made a little less like a burlesque number – performed by En Vogue on a Sesame Street special. The original is now buried away like a guilty secret.
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This is ripe for recycling by some transgressive or nose-thumbing pop performer, who could bring out all the non family-friendly elements and reframe them from a more adult perspective.
I could totally see Debbie Harry doing this justice. Hell, even Lady Gaga, who could have performed it at the presidential inauguration if the saggy satsuma had been re-elected (an “am I awake or still asleep?” double nightmare of ‘American Werewolf’ proportions)….
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