I watched my first episode of Barney – the purple dinousaur – tonight with my daughter, and, well, it really made me appreciate Sesame Street. And that got me thinking about Neal Patrick Harris, who hosted the Emmy Awards on Sunday.
I know he has done good things in his career – favorite of Stephen Sondheim, Broadway, sitcoms, and he is still young – but nothing he ever does will for me match his turn as the shoe fairy on Sesame Street.
You can at least argue that Harris has had other high points. But I do not think you can argue about the musical artist Feist. She had one hit, based on an Apple commercial, which was trendy, but, really, just OK. Her Sesame Street version? She should stop trying and just retire. Her career highlight.
Sesame Street has been taking celebrities and musical guests and maximizing their child goodness for decades, so it makes sense they are good at it.
It is not online, and you could never call it the top of his career, he is that good, but Lou Rawls singing the alphabet on the first season of Sesame Street is pure genius. As is Ray Charles on multiple occasions. And it goes on. REM is great, cracking up mid-song in genuine Muppet appreciation. Billy Joel serenading Oscar the Grouch is lots of fun. India Arie does a cool alphabet herself. I can’t say it is her best work, but I do not remember any other song of hers, except this one. I actually sing the alphabet song exactly like her now.
But I mostly think about Neal Patrick Harris and Feist, to be honest, because they are a true reflection of Sesame Street – maximizing the talent of Harris, who can get lost in the shuffle, and making Feist, of all people, so much fun.