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the enigma that is the sesame street theme

A theme song everybody knows but few know how to play is the original theme song from Sesame Street's opening from the 1970s. The song is officially titled Can You Tell Me How To Get To Sesame Street?, and fortunately there is an entire wiki-style article on it here.

Joe Raposo wrote the theme as well as many other songs for the show, but the theme in particular has been described as "deceptively simple". It's described that way because it is in fact rather complicated. Why? Because it's a very unique swing jazz mix. Every time I've tried to play the song on guitar, I know I'm not getting certain chords right. One of these days I will figure it out, and no, there has been no sheet music that has ever gotten it right; it's a song that must be learnt by ear.

At 0:18 in the video below, you'll hear the original theme from the 70s, and this is the one I remember as a kid:

Yes, you will hear a variation of the theme's swing jazz right after the main theme plays, further showing how complicated it really is.

What's crazier however is the music that happened after the show was over during the benefactor credits roll. It is 100% different, loud and bombastic. Big, booming bells and all.

Even weirder is how it abruptly ends and then the PBS tag comes in with an analog synth that is again NOTHING like what you just heard. The whole thing is just plain odd.

Here it is:

One day I'll learn the original Sesame Street theme, but as for the credits roll music.. um.. no. It's cool, but just weird. 🙂


Okay I just had to throw these in here. Below are the newer Sesame Street opener themes. If you liked the original, you really won't like these.

The above theme is from 1998-2001. I will give credit that they at least kept the same beat but unfortunately sounds so generic compared to the original.

Here's one that's positively awful:

Not memorable at all. The original beat is completely lost, and the focus is taken away from kids and placed almost exclusively on show characters instead. WRONG. So, so wrong. The show is about kids first, characters second, and that's not what the above theme does at all. It's just bad.

This above is from Sesame Street's official YouTube channel. They were cool enough to place the original Season 1 intro. Total coolness all around. Kicks ass now just like it did when it originally aired. Pity the sound quality wasn't a little better, but that's okay.

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