Sesame Street is not the place where you’d go look for great music.
Nonetheless, it has had some stunning performances over the years. Stevie Wonder did an incendiary version of Superstition and Paul Simon did a great version of Me and Julio which we linked to a few weeks ago.
It takes a particular genius though to take a song about being green and making it universal and soulful and something that anyone can relate to.
We’re referring of course to Ray Charles and his masterful rendition of Kermit the Frog’s theme song It’s Not Easy Being Green.
Charles pours every bit of himself into the song and by the time he’s done, you’re as green as he is, which is to say he's turned a song about being a green frog into a blues song. He took a sweet song aimed at young children and turned it into something far, far beyond that.
It’s still perfectly accessible to children, but it speaks to loneliness and, ultimately, acceptance and self-worth and love.
It’s really a tremendous accomplishment. It’s a nice song to start with but it was written for Kermit the Frog. Charles made it universal and enduring. People called him a genius for a reason and it was because he could do miracles like this.