April 08, 2013

By Joe Hennes

What Ever Happened to Don Music?

Joe Hennes works at Sesame Workshop and is the co-proprietor of Tough Pigs.

Over the course of Sesame Street’s 43-year history, characters come and go.  Not everyone can be a Grover or Cookie Monster, lasting decades while still staying fresh and entertaining.  For every Big Bird, there’s a Roosevelt Franklin.  For every Bert and Ernie, there’s a Biff and Sully.  Despite the fact that these characters aren’t around anymore, we still hold a lot of love for them and the joy they gave us over the years.

One of our favorite examples is the great Don Music, the absent-minded composer who fought through his frustration to pen such classics as “Mary Had a Bicycle” and “Drive, Drive, Drive your Car”.  He showed us that creating art isn’t easy, and the final result isn’t always what you expected it to be.

You may not have known that Don Music is responsible for some of your favorite songs.  Before Mary had a little lamb, Don put her on a bicycle. Before Yankee Doodle put a feather in his cap, he cooked some fat spaghetti and called it macaroni. He even wrote a song about how to get to Yellowstone Park, which might sound strangely familiar to fans of the show.

Don Music’s talents weren’t relegated to just his musical career, as he was also the mastermind behind one of our country’s most important documents: The Declaration of Independence.  Don, playing Thomas Jefferson, plays his part in the American Revolution with the help of Grover, who attempts to bring him a new quill.  Just imagine, without Don Music, we might still be under the rule of the British government!

Don Music was performed by the infinitely talented Richard Hunt from his debut in 1974 until Hunt’s passing in 1992.  Several years later, the remaining Don Music sketches were pulled from Sesame Street after several children imitated Don’s unfortunate tendency to bang his head against his piano in frustration.

While Don Music may have hung up his baton and retired, he lives on in classic DVDs like Old School v.2, on YouTube, and in our memories, especially when we get a song stuck in our heads and we just can’t seem to remember how that last line goes…

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