I think the simplicity of the song definitely speaks to its Utopian nature. The lyrics ask us to imagine we are on our way to where the “air is sweet”. I think it describes a place that is based on the Utopian impulse, that is, for us to imagine a place that is better than the one we now live in. The composer of the song is Joe Raposo. He wrote the lyrics with two other men, Jon Stone and Bruce Hart. “Stone considered the song a musical masterpiece and a lyrical embarrassment” [Michael Davis (2008). Street gang: The complete history of Sesame Street. Viking Penguin. pp. 159–160.]
When I think of Sesame Street I think the entire idea is bases on a Utopian society based on education, fun, singing, friendship, and learning among children, adults, and animals and creatures unknown. In this society problems are solved together and the theme song for Sesame is a great representation of Utopian music in contemporary society. It is based on “utopianism”, as described in the Utopian Reader as “social dreaming”. The words of the song describes the search for the place- a magical one. The listener understands that Sesame Street is a happier place, a better place than the one they are in now.
6 thoughts on “Sunny Day- Sesame Street”
“Sunny Days” and Sesame Street as a whole is very innocent because it’s aimed at very young children. I think that Sesame Street is a utopia from the point-of-view of a three-year-old child. A land where there is no shouting/yelling, fighting, parents saying “no, you can’t have that,” yucky vegetables, etc as well as no sex/violence/drugs. Above all, it’s a utopia of imagination filled with muppets who are the children’s friends. Muppets that teach children subjects both serious and humorous on the children’s level so that they enjoy learning.
I definitely agree with you that the simplicity of “Sunny Day” speaks to its utopian nature. The positivity that is emphasized with education, friendship, and curious play works as an undeniably clear infrastructure of a young child’s utopia. This reminds me of other similar utopias– Barney & Friends and Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood!
I grew up with Sesame Street–I mean the show started production a year after I was born and my parents were always big PBS people. I really grew up with it.
Here are the opening credits and the theme from the early years: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfQSp92L88I
As you can see, in the early years, there is a lot of footage where they just kinda take the camera out into the streets of New York (and surrounding Jersey farmland) and found the happiest things to take pictures of they could. This was an era when American cities were in a very, very serious crisis, even the best of them. And, looking back from my vantage now, I find it really touching that the show really embraced an unvarnished picture of the city–and found so much joy there.
Flash forward to now: the set of “the street” has been cleaned up. There are no “documentary” shots. Everything is on the sound stage. The DVD set that I bought when my son was born of the first season of Sesame Street warns that it might not be suitable for today’s children. Shiny, happy muppets have taken over.
And…I just kinda wish that somebody would just walk outside with a camera and find some joy in a neglected corner of the city the way that they used to. I can’t help but feel that Sesame Street had become “rotten with perfection,” to give Kenneth Burke a call back.
All this said, I love that you posted this, Domanique. Whatever it faults, Sesame Street has promoted a positive vision of the city for almost as long as I have lived.
This song definitely has a happy feel to it! It’s no wonder it is aimed at young children. We want our future generation to feel happy and upbeat and live in a utopia-like world before they grow up and experience the hardships and difficulties of the real world.
I think it’s pretty interesting to analyze the themes of kids’ shows; it’s something they’ll be listening to over and over again so they’re bound to retain some of its meaning. I’ve watched Sesame Street as a kid, but now that I’ve had the chance to listen to it a few times again, I can’t help but notice that the song carries with it a somewhat cultish feeling. “Sweeping the clouds away… where the air is sweet,” these things are impossible in our world, but we’re invited to go away to where perfection is possible, with the kids chanting (somewhat creepily, really) “Can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street?” At the same time it’s encouraging kids not to worry about anything at all because “everything’s a-okay!” This is the idea of a utopia that’s only free from critique as the theme for a kid’s TV show: simple happiness all around, with no need to explain any complicated systems that would make it all possible.
Love this choice! Everything about this song, video, and show evokes happiness. Like many children’s shows, Sesame Street aims to create a positive environment for children in which they can learn and toy with their imaginations. This song in particular creates this exact image as it describes the perfect sunny day on Sesame Street.
Thanks for making me smile 🙂
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