But one song that is always close to my heart and close to the top of my list of favorite songs is "I Don't Want to Live on the Moon," written by Jeff Moss--who, coincidentally, passed away 15 years ago today.
Both Jim Henson and Steve Whitmire (who--also coincidentally--share a birthday today) have had the opportunity to perform the song as Ernie. I love both of their interpretations with all my heart, and thus I would like to share them with you today.
Jim Henson's version:
Steve Whitmire's duet with Shawn Colvin:
The Shawn Colvin duet is from a TV special called Elmopalooza, which was made in celebration of Sesame Street's 30th season. Notwithstanding the shameless Wolverine publicity, it turned out to be a really good show, but this duet was definitely the highlight for me. The harmonies are just gorgeous. Also, it's in a better key for me to sing along with, which I appreciate.
But I've always loved this song, from the very beginning. I remember being a little kid sitting on the floor of my living room, seeing it for the first time and being transported by it.
There's a soulfulness that Jim Henson brought to his singing performances that is hard to describe. As far as I know, he didn't have any formal music training, but maybe, not being overly concerned with technique, he could concentrate more on giving an emotionally authentic performance. He would probably be the first to admit that he wasn't necessarily the best singer among the Muppet performers, but maybe it's the imperfections that make his songs all the more resonant and touching.
Here's a sad but true story about Jeff Moss: his father was a noted stage actor who looked down on Jeff's work, thinking that it wasn't important because it was "just" for kids. Interestingly, if you look into the histories of the people involved in Sesame Street's inception, a lot of them had similar issues with their parents. And I sometimes wonder if that's why they were able to make the show so successfullly appealing, because they knew what kids wanted and needed to hear based on their own lacking experiences.
Not that a TV show can be an adequate substitute for parental love, of course, but I think that it can be a helpful supplement, sort of like a multivitamin for the soul.