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.
For all of its colorful Muppets, goofy pop culture spoofs, and flashy guest stars, Sesame Street is, first and foremost, an educational children’s program. And while numbers and letters are great, some of the best lessons Big Bird and the gang could teach were about respecting others and, most importantly, respecting yourself.
That can be heavy stuff for a 4-year-old, which is why Sesame Street employed some dancing diva pigs to get the point across. In a loving nod to The Pointer Sisters, The Oinker Sisters bounce around, tulle headbands flailing wildly, as they sing about their new attitude. These are some proud pigs and they have every right to be: “My chin is up / My feet don’t stall / When I walk my walk, I walk real tall.” There’s no other way to stretch it, “A New Way To Walk” truly is just a song about walking, but it’s walking in a way that shows you’re proud of who you are.
Longtime Muppet writer Mark Saltzman’s lyrics recall the brassy confidence of Diana Ross’ “I’m Coming Out” and the music by the revered Joe Raposo (of “Bein’ Green” fame) supplies enough horns for anyone to groove (or walk) to. The song is a simple one, but, like all Sesame Street classics, it’s ageless and destined to get an update every decade or so. The original aired in 1985 in a faux-MTV format, introduced by Old MacDonald as one of “the newest and nowest in barnyard videos.” The 1993 version is a star-studded affair, showcasing the fancy footwork of Maya Angelou, John Goodman, Sally Jesse Raphael, and more. And, in true 2002 fashion, Destiny’s Child even stopped by the Street for a smooth R&B cover of the song.
As a kid, “A New Way To Walk” was just an excuse for me to dance on my parents’ waterbed, but, today, it’s the self-affirming confidence booster that has stuck with me all these years. I may not always feel like prime swine, but The Oinker Sisters are a reminder that it only takes an extra pep in my step to turn my attitude around.