This is a bit of an experiment in writing about whatever happens to come up on my computer. Granted, this didn’t “just come up”; I selected it because I recently purchased it from itunes but hadn’t listened yet. I also downloaded “Bein’ Green,” “Sing,” and Bert and Ernie’s Sing-a-Long. Sue me.
First things first. I am 43. Sesame Street and I were born the same year, so obviously, I grew up watching it on PBS (Channel 28 when I was a kid). I will freely admit to anyone who asks that I have a probably unhealthy attachment to things I remember fondly from my childhood. Sesame Street, Jim Henson, muppets, and the music from the show are among those things I am still attached to like a baby spider monkey clinging to its mother.
“Somebody Come and Play” is one of those songs I know I must have heard repeatedly while watching muppets and humans teach each other the alphabet and tolerance, but I don’t really remember it from then. I rediscovered it as an adult, and I was transported back to the blissfully ignorant innocence of childhood. Nothing bad or wrong ever happened, everyone was nice, and the only thing you had to worry about was getting a flavor of candy you didn’t like (red was the universally good flavor; green was generally bad).
But there is a loneliness in the song that I think children miss. After all, the entire song is about a child imploring for someone, anyone, to come and play “before it gets to late to begin.” There’s a version with Big Bird, but I prefer the one sung by The Kids (presumably the group of children hired for the show). It’s sweet, charming, and off-key. I don’t sing so well, either, so I identify with that part. It’s also a little heartbreaking. Anyone whose heart doesn’t hurt a little after hearing a child sing “somebody come and be my friend” is a sociopath. There’s a joyous freedom here, too. The idea that you can just “watch the sun till it rains again” and “see the pleasure in the wind” is kind of remarkable. The world is a playground and the summer afternoon is gonna last forever. After all, children shouldn’t have any other responsibilities besides playing with their friends (parents really should let their children goof off more, but that’s a rant for another time). There’s joy also in how the single voice at the beginning is joined by other voices. Somebody came out to play after all.