1 The Muppet Mindset: Weekly Muppet Wednesdays: Don Music

Jul 7, 2010

Weekly Muppet Wednesdays: Don Music

Today's Weekly Muppet Wednesday article is written by Michael Wermuth, Jr.

DON MUSIC

Performed by...
Richard Hunt (1974-1992)

First appearance...
Sesame Street, approximately Season 6 (1975)

Most recent appearance...
Sesame Street, approximately Season 22 (1992)

Best known role...
The original "head-banger" (on his piano), lyrics changer, migraine haver (probably) 
Famous quote...
“Oh, I’ll never get it right! Never!”

WHO IS DON MUSIC?
Don Music is the stressed-out piano player and songwriter on Sesame Street. He often tries to write songs, and whenever he gets stuck on a line, he expresses his frustration by banging his head on his piano. After getting help from somebody (usually Kermit the Frog), he succeeds in writing his song and gets joined by back-up singers (usually Little Chrissy and the Alphabeats) who not only show up from seemingly out of nowhere, but also manage to sing an additional verse on the spot. 

DON MUSIC SONGS
  • Mary Had a Bicycle (parody of Mary Had a Little Lamb)
  • Yankee Doodle (parody of Yankee Doodle)
  • Whistle, Whistle, Little Bird (parody of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star)
  • The Alphabet Song
  • Old MacDonald Had a Farm
  • Drive, Drive, Drive Your Car (parody of Row, Row, Row Your Boat)
  • How to Get to Yellowstone Park (parody of the Sesame Street Theme)
  • Beginning, Middle, End
  • Mary Had a Little Duck/Cow (parody of Mary Had a Little Lamb)
  • Hooper’s Store grand re-opening song
MEMORABLE DON MUSIC MOMENTS
Don Music has appeared in many "Sesame Street News" segments, and many of these segments follow the same basic format: Don starts by singing a familiar song only to be unable to find a suitable final word, banging his head in frustration. Kermit provides a word to end the line with but Don notes that it either doesn’t rhyme or make sense with the previous line, so Kermit offers a number of changes to each previous line until Don is satisfied with the results.

But some of the sketches vary a bit in format. When trying to write “Row Your Boat” it is actually Kermit who keeps pointing out lines that don’t rhyme or make sense, while Don comes up with most of the replacement lines. When writing “The Alphabet Song” the finished product is actually the actual song as opposed to a parody, and most of the help comes from various passer-bys who say words that sound like various letters of the alphabet.

But Don Music is not exclusive to the Sesame Street News segments. He once appeared as a contestant on Guy Smiley’s game show “Mystery Guest," where he incorrectly guessed the segment’s mystery guest.
Don also portrayed the role of Thomas Jefferson in an “American Revolution” sketch, in which he has to write the Declaration of Independence, but is unable to because his quill has broken. Grover helps find him a quill, but not before providing a few things that rhyme with “quill.”

Don also makes a few cameos in Sesame Street: 20 and Still Counting. In one such cameo, he pushes a piano down a live city street while Kermit is trying to ask somebody the question of the day (“Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?”). Don’s answer is “Practice!” (which Kermit dismisses, as that’s the way to Carnegie Hall).

WHY DOES SESAME STREET NEED DON MUSIC?
Although he was taken off the show because kids were imitating his habit of banging his head on the piano, Don Music can be seen as a good influence just as much as he can be seen as a bad influence. Don shows that you can succeed if you keep trying (even if you keep needing help). Of course he probably also gives kids the false reality that completing  a song will automatically provide you with back-up singers.








The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier

3 comments:

  1. I read on Muppet Wiki that Don Music is made from the Orange Gold Anything Muppet pattern.

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  2. I laugh off most of "bad influence" accusations leveled at Sesame Street, but I have to admit that, as a little kid in the '80s, I used to bang my head (and arm) on the piano in imitation of Don Music. I never hit hard enough to hurt myself, but it probably wasn't very good for the piano.

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  3. I actually enjoyed the Don Music sketches. With the exception of his head banging and his frustrated tantrums, he is influential in teaching kids the exciting world of creativity by taking familiar children's songs, toiling with them a bit and come up with new and refreshing takes on them. In a way his songs were very original in that way.

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