For reasons I don’t care to get into, I was singing Leslie Gore’s modest ’60s hit, “Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows” (best known to Simpsons fans as the “chase music” Chief Wiggum and Homer play in the squad car as they chase Marge and Ruth Powers in the classic episode, “Marge on the Lam”), and as usual when I get a random song in my head, I wanted to crank up the audio clip of it from the iTunes Store for the amusement (or annoyance) of everyone within earshot.
As I was listening to the clip, I noticed something odd. The CD it’s currently available on is from the 20th Century Masters – The Millennium Collection series, easily identified by its distinctive black-white-and-gray cover designs. I believe these originally featured artists from the A&M label, but eventually expanded to include other artists currently distributed by various labels under the (very large) blanket of Universal Music Group.
And that, I guess, is how ’60s bubblegum pop like Leslie Gore (originally released on Mercury, I believe) ends up being distributed by the same label as Ghostface Killah.
Even though I’ve never dropped acid, looking back on the children’s television I absorbed like a sponge in the late ’70s, I think I got enough of the experience. Case in point:
I’m lazily linking over to this on YouTube, but I actually watched it again for the first time in 30 years earlier today on the Sesame Street Old School 1974-1979 DVD set I just bought at Target. Which is not — at all — to say that I hadn’t thought of it countless times in those intervening 30 years. The “plastic house” and the freaky yo-yo dude in particular are burned eternally into my memory.
Now, I know a lot of people my age are going to have a nostalgic recollection of clips like this, but I wonder how many are as deeply imprinted with these iconic images as myself. Back in 1978, when this clip actually aired, I was at my absolute peak of Sesame Street viewing and on most days I spent at least 3 1/2 hours watching the show. (We got two PBS stations; one aired it at 8:00, 11:30 and 4:30, and the other at noon and 3:00.) I saw many of these segments more times than I can count. And speaking of counting, fortunately, I didn’t need, at that age, to learn to do so in Russian:
The first time I watched this I was so in awe of the ambitious yet failed effort to squeeze the copious syllables of the Russian numbers into the fast rhythm of the song, I didn’t even pay attention to the fact that the entire “12” segment consists of U.S. landmarks (Statue of Liberty, Washington Monument, Mount Rushmore, etc.). I wonder when exactly this clip aired on Russian television, and whether anyone involved in putting it on the air realized what it was depicting wasn’t just drugged out hallucinations. (Well, it was, but not just.)