Monday, October 22, 2007

"J" Joe Jeans and his Jellybeans

Watched a Sesame Street alphabet video with my 4 year old this weekend. I haven't stopped singing this little ditty since.

I have long been obsessed with the genius of Jim Henson. On college entrance essays he was consistently included within my responses to: "who you'd invite to dinner/who would you like to meet living, dead, or fictional"? As I watch this video now, the power of it hits me on a handful of levels.

Level One: nostalgia. I'll tell you there's just something about the quality of those voices. It's like coming home. Voices that change only very slightly regardless of the muppet they're representing. Those are the voices of my childhood. It doesn't take much to put me back in front of the television as a 6 year old in our old house on Sycamore Terrace.

Level Two: staying power. This video is from 1971. My daughter is watching it for the first time and loves it. The song literally transcends time. Like much of Henson's work, although appearing (and musically being rooted) within its distinct decade, the heart, the lesson, the crux of what's on display is absolutely timeless.

Level Three: talk to kids/talk to adults. Long before the Simpsons and Family Guy laid claim to the notion of appealing to kids through the medium (cartoons or puppets) while appealing to adults through the subtlety of the writing, Sesame Street and the Muppet Show were all over this. I laugh at an aside Grover throws away in one sketch and the kids laugh because the bald blue dude with the mustache can't get the "numero dos" without it spilling on the floor of the restaurant during the musical number "Granada".

Level Four: education. I am most inspired by the fact that this creativity was all developed in the name of education. As my daughter logically guesses that some words start with "G" rather than "J" (which both have the same phonetic root), I take comfort in "J-Jane jumping down the lane" singing a song about "J".

I guess what it boils down to is my admiration for the ability to use artistry for a greater purpose than selling something. Be it education, green technology, cultural innovation, or social connectivity. Every once in a while something comes along to remind you that once upon a time, someone just got it right.

1 comment:

Petrah said...

I found this entry after a google search for "J Joe Jeans and his Jellybeans"...

Here on the other side of the world I was having the same experience but three years later, finding myself happily singing along to the long lost, joyful J-song.

Not only that, but I also realise that my Sesame Street influenced my taste in music. Just listen to the 12 song. It rocks!

the thoughts and opinions expressed below are entirely my own, and are not necessarily shared by my friends, family, or employer. (though they very well might be...)