In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well. This time around, for Sesame Street Week, we’re picking our favorite songs from the much-loved show.
Like probably everyone else, I love a lot of different Sesame Street songs. “People In Your Neighborhood” is a classic, as is “Rubber Duckie,” and “Put Down The Duckie,” for that matter. “Bells”? “Dance Myself To Sleep?” “Mahna Mahna”? And “Doin’ The Pigeon”? With the video and the dancing Bert? Don’t even get me started. Still, my heart just about melted a couple of weeks ago when I went to see Polaris, the Mark Mulcahy-fronted band from The Adventures Of Pete And Pete, and the group covered “I Don’t Want To Live On The Moon.”
Written by longtime Sesame Street writer, composer, and lyricist Jeff Moss, “I Don’t Want To Live On The Moon” first appeared on the show in 1978. Ernie sings the delicate ballad while perched on a crescent moon, swimming in the sea, and staring out his bedroom window, giving viewers a rare chance to see the puppet’s whole body—something that always tickled me as a kid.
Even now, the track’s lyrics are damn near heartbreaking, with Ernie earnestly explaining that while he’d like to visit the moon, he doesn’t think he’d like to live there for good. As he says, “Though I’d like to look down at the Earth from above / I would miss all the places and people I love / So although I might like it for one afternoon / I don’t want to live on the moon.” And while swimming can be fun, “there’s not much to do when your friends are all fish / And an oyster and clam aren’t real family,” so Ernie doesn’t want to live in the sea. Home is full of the places and people you love, and while there are “so many strange places” Ernie would like to be, “none of them permanently.”
I’m sure I heard “I Don’t Want To Live On The Moon” as a kid, seeing as how I was raised by Sesame Street and with Sesame Street records around, but I’ve really come to love it as an adult. It’s sentimental, sure, but also frank. Vacation’s great, but Ernie, like many of us, is a realist. Even the moon can get boring without people you love to share the experience. And a life on the moon—well, that would eventually just become a regular life, and not something all that special anyway. Moss’ lyrics and arrangement lightly drive that notion home, mixing sleepy melodies with wistful phrases and providing the melody that Ernie eventually falls asleep to in his own comfy bed, under his own roof, right next to his very best friend.