One of my fonder memories of childhood is watching “The Muppet Show.” I didn’t quite grasp all of the subtleties (I actually thought “Pigs In Space” was a serial, not just a recurring sketch, and was always wondering why I never saw the episodes they plugged as “Next time”), but I loved it nonetheless. And one of my favorite bits was when they would take songs and perform skits around them — predating MTV and music videos by several years.
One song in particular stuck in my head. I loved it the instant I heard it, and I loved the skit they played with it — a mother possum singing to her children, while the other forest animals looked on — occasionally interrupted by a marauding horde of whooping hunters randomly firing their guns into the air, driving all the animals back out of sight. Unfortunately, I didn’t know the title or anything about it, but for years I kept hearing bits and pieces of it on the radio. And dammit, not once did the DJ identify it for me. Finally, I told my sad tale of woe to a friend of mine who was a DJ at the college station. I gave him a few of the lyrics, he pulled a record off the walls (this was the 80’s, after all), and tossed it out on to the turntable. As soon as the current song ended, he started up.
“This one’s going out by special request to Jay. Here’s Buffalo Springfield with ‘For What It’s Worth.'” And then it started…
“There’s something happening here
What it is ain’t exactly clear
There’s a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware
I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down”
I was amazed and thrilled. I’d literally spent years wondering what that beautiful song was, and here my friend Bob had found it instantly and answered me.
(Bob also once played both the studio and live versions of Genesis’ “Supper’s Ready” on the air for me once, which clock in at 22:30 and 24:30 respectively, to much local protest, but that’s a story for another time.)
Flash forward a few years. The Muppets returned to TV for a brief series, called “Muppets Tonight.” I was visiting my friend Carl (who was about 10 years younger than me) and we were watching it. Just then we cut to Muppet Labs, where Dr. Bunsen Honeydew (and Beaker!) starred in a video for a rather odd little song. I recognized it immediately.
“Oh, cool! Thomas Dolby — ‘She Blinded Me With Science!'”
Carl spun around at me in disbelief. “What?!?!?”
“The song — it’s ‘She Blinded Me With Science,’ by Thomas Dolby.”
“You know that? I gotta write that down! That song’s been driving me nuts for years, and nobody could tell me what it was!”
The next day Carl went out and bought two Thomas Dolby CDs.
I guess what goes around, comes around.