Sometimes, when I get into a funk, I starting missing the Muppets…

You know, The Muppet Show? It originally aired from 1976 until 1981. When I was growing up, I was a big fan of Jim Henson’s Muppets and their corresponding guest stars. I saw most of the movies and even watched Muppets Tonight when it was on in the mid 1990s. Granted, Muppets Tonight wasn’t nearly as funny and entertaining as the original show was, even though it featured guest stars like Prince (then going by The Artist Formerly Known As Prince), Coolio, and Paula Abdul.

Paula Abdul guests on Muppets Tonight

Coolio performs on Muppets Tonight

Of course, in my day, the original Muppet Show was on and it exposed me to some great 70s era stars like Elton John, Linda Ronstadt, John Denver, Paul Simon, Diana Ross, and even Raquel Welch!

Elton John guests on The Muppet Show

I should probably break down and buy the DVDs of this show. There’s nothing really like it on TV anymore. Of course, the 1970s was the era for variety shows. That was the decade that brought us Donny & Marie, Sonny & Cher, and even The Brady Bunch Hour, which I am convinced was invented under the heavy influence of some kind of hallucinogenic drug. Donny & Marie had ice skaters and The Bradys had synchronized swimmers. Sonny and Cher had each other and it seems the Osmonds were making the rounds on all the shows, though I don’t remember seeing them on The Muppet Show.

More than just entertaining family style fun, The Muppet Show and Sesame Street also brought us some timeless, beautiful songs. Consider the lovely ballad, “Bein’ Green”, which was sung by Kermit the Frog and then covered by some very notable musical worthies like Van Morrison, Sophie Milman, and Ray Charles. Yesterday, I was feeling a little depressed over the prospect of the crown I have to get tomorrow and went to YouTube to listen to Ray Charles sing…

Here Ray Charles knocks “Bein’ Green” out of the park with his perfectly glorious rendition of this Muppets classic on Sesame Street

There’s something about the way Ray Charles sings this song that just radiates empathy. I feel better every time I hear it. It gives me goosebumps. It simultaneously gives me a lump in my throat while it makes me smile.

The lovely Russian jazz singer Sophie Milman found comfort in “Bein’ Green”, too…

Van Morrison performs “Bein’ Green” live in 1973. Listening to this reminds me it’s time to see if I can hunt down the album this came from. It rocks! Don Henley also took a crack at “Bein’ Green” on the Muppets Unpigged album.

The Rainbow Connection covered three ways…

Another special Muppets song that comes to mind is “Rainbow Connection”, again sung by Kermit the Frog and covered by a diverse host of talented singers ranging from Willie Nelson to Debbie Harry to Kenny Loggins to Karen Carpenter.

There’s something very touching about the way Willie Nelson sings this song. I was so moved by Willie’s rendition that I used it in a memorial video I made for my much loved dog, MacGregor, who died last December after we found an inoperable tumor near his spine. There’s something about this song and the way Willie sings it that suited MacGregor. Even today, when I listen to it, it makes me emotional.

The Carpenters’ version of “The Rainbow Connection” is very different, of course. It’s very clear and pristine, a little schmaltzy, and yet somehow touching.

And here, Debbie Harry and Kermit the Frog team up to sing “The Rainbow Connection” on The Muppet Show. I never knew her voice went that high! This is a charming side of the lead singer of Blondie I’ve never seen.

I often find that when I’m in a crummy mood, I get a lot of joy out of singing. And sometimes I sing songs from The Muppet Show. I recorded my own version of “Bein’ Green” yesterday…

and I felt better afterwards, even though I still dread getting a crown. On the other hand, I suppose I dread the alternative even more. Tomorrow might be a good day to pull out my favorite Muppets CD.

I can’t stay sad when I hear this song. Incidentally, I happen to own a copy of the CD linked below. It’s well worth the money if you are a Muppets fan!