Jim Henson would have been 75 years old today. I remember when he died, it was so quick and shocking and being not so far beyond my own childhood something I found myself desperately wishing hadn’t happened. Much of my childhood humor and sensibility can be traced back to two men, Shel Silverstein and Jim Henson. They were both a bit cracked, a bit silly, a bit dark and very funny.
Henson especially brought me up musically. The wild ridiculousness of the Muppet show was infused with song and tune until the whole show seemed to burst with a sound just a little off of cacophony. It was the last pure vaudeville show in America.
It had a sweet side too. The strange love affair between Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy, all those sing-a-longs with John Denver and of course the song that dealt so simply with the problem of not quite fitting in, not quite being happy with yourself. Bein’ Green hits so directly on our human capacity for wishing that it’s easy to miss the last verse, but it’s Jim Henson’s birthday and I believe this is what he’d want you to hum:
But green’s the color of spring
And green can be cool and friendly-like
And green can be big like a mountain
Or important like a river
Or tall like a tree
Bein’ Green, Kermit the Frog
Post Script ~ One of my favorite country bands of the last decade is a little heard band (at least on radio) out of Missouri; Rex Hobart & His Misery Boys. Hobart is a fine songwriter with a terrific baritone, has a wonderfully traditional honky tonk band and puts on a great live show. I’ve only had the opportunity to see him one time at a sparsely attended evening at Seattle’s Tractor Tavern. No matter, he sang with his heart and I left happy. I haven’t heard much from him in a few years, perhaps he has a job and a mortgage like the rest of us suckers, but I remember him covering Kermit’s song a few years back and he sang it as if he meant it and I found I loved him a little more because of that.
It’s Not Easy Being Green, Rex Hobart & His Misery Boys