we all live in a capital i

I discovered something amazing on Netflix. Sesame Street: Classics. It starts with 1974 and goes from there.

I've watched a few episodes and I can't even begin to describe how unbelievably heartfelt it all is. When I was very little, my mother had a standing rule that during the day that the TV would be on "nothing but channel 2", which was (and still is) WGBH Boston , a public television station. As such I watched many, many, many hours of Sesame Street. And it worked, because I was reading before everyone else in kindergarten. In fact, I was - and this is no joke - scolded by a teacher because I was reading books before all the other kids were. Fortunately my father was invovled in the Board of Education for the town and that teacher very quickly let me read whatever I wanted after that once my father found out I wasn't allowed to do so because of some ridiculous "everyone at the same pace" rule. Sesame Street taught me to read, and that's the 100% truth.

This is one of the animated shorts from the first season, featuring the song Capital I, written by Steve Zuckerman. You may not know who he is, but you know his work. He has a huge number of television credits including Full House, The Golden Girls, Friends, Everyone Loves Raymond and many more.

I'm just starting to watch the '74 season, and Capital I is in the first episode. Although I remembered 99% of the shorts and skits from when I was a kid, this one was new to me and it just blew me away. I love the song so much I'm actually thinking of learning it on guitar. Yes, it has a total hippie vibe to it, but that just makes it all the more awesome. My only complaint about it is that it's under a minute long.

Capital I sounds like a very serious song, but it's not. It's just a simple acoustic tune with seriously powerful bellowing vocals in front of it. On a kid's show. Sesame Street back in the day had so much balls to broadcast great stuff like this.

Here are the lyrics. You can totally read between the lines on this one. Or at least I can.

We all live in a capital I
In the middle of the desert
In the center of the sky

And all day long we polish on the I
To keep it clean and shiny, so it brightens up the sky

Rubbing it here, and scrubbing it there
Polishing the I, so high in the air

As we work, we sing a lively tune
It is great to to be so happy on a busy afternoon

And when we're through with the day's only chore
We go into the I, and we close the door

Capital I
Capital I
Capital I
Capital I

Now there's two immediate interpretations that pop into my head here. If you replaced I with eye, this could be read as a mind journey, or complete escapism. The lyrics go way, way deeper than they appear on the surface. Like I said, it's just really ballsy stuff. And very, very clever.

I was born in the '70s, but the mid-70s seasons were rerun like crazy during the late 1970s and early 80s when I was watching Sesame Street most heavily. And to say these shows remind me of my childhood is a huge understatement. Some of the animated shorts as well as the puppeteering skits touches on memories I haven't thought of in many years.

Back when my father was alive I talked with him about Sesame Street, he told me about times when I was so engrossed in the show, just sitting there, watching, and he'd watch me mouth along to what the show was teaching. Dad knew what was going on. I was learning. While I thought it was just a way to pass the time, my brain was getting filled with knowledge. And like I said, it worked.

To truly appreciate 1970s era Sesame Street, you basically have to be from my generation. Those who are younger than I won't get it - but that's okay. I'm not saying my generation is any better or worse than another, but the children's television we had was freakin' AMAZING.

Published 2012 Nov 23