The Late Movies: Musicians and Their Awesome Sesame Street Appearances

I keep coming across musicians who have appeared on Sesame Street (usually singing the Alphabet Song), and the performances are uniformly awesome. (One of the best videos from my Late Movies segment last week was Stevie Wonder live on Sesame Street, and in a previous week, Paul Simon was on Sesame Street.) I've collected some favorites here for your viewing enjoyment.

Feist, "1 2 3 4"

Feist performs her hit "1 2 3 4" with a twist -- it's now more specifically about counting than about growing up. Totally adorable.

Queen Latifah, "The Letter O"

Safari Sisters in the house! "Now, one day I was chillin' on Sesame Street, hanging wit' my homegirls, rockin' to the beat, when Telly came along and he was feelin' kinda blue, he said, 'I lost my Letter O, what should I do?'" Latifah's advice: learn some words that include the letter O!

R.E.M., "Furry Happy Monsters"

They pulled some monster Muppets out of storage (including a B-52's Kate Pierson monster) for this Sesame Street-ified rendition of their hit "Shiny Happy People."

Norah Jones, "Don't Know Y"

This is pretty cute -- "Don't Know Why" becomes a song about missing the letter Y, spelling words like Yarn and Yet.

Ray Charles and Friends, "The Alphabet Song"

Only Ray Charles can make the Alphabet Song soulful and sort of wistful. Includes guest appearances by Patrick Stewart, Ellen Degeneres, Tony Bennett, and more. "Won't you sing along with me?"

Patti LaBelle, "The Alphabet Song" (Gospel Version)

Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Kermit the Frog, "African Alphabet Song"

Paul Simon and Ladysmith Black Mambazo, "The Alphabet Song"

Slightly similar to the above, but with no Kermit and no fancy visuals.

Spin Doctors, "Two Princes"

Um. I guess the Spin Doctors' singer got a haircut and kinda needs work.

Tilly and the Wall, "The Alphabet Song"

Indie rock band Tilly and the Wall, most notable for its lack of a drummer (they use tap-dancers instead to keep the beat), perform a modified Alphabet Song.

Who Did I Leave Out?

Share your favorite musical memories of Sesame Street in the comments!

Your Library Has a Free Music Service That You Probably Didn't Know About

Did you know that you can download free music from your local library? Music that you can keep. That's right: not borrow, keep.

It's all possible thanks to a service called Freegal (a portmanteau of free and legal), which gives patrons of participating libraries access to 15 million songs from 40,000 labels, notably including the Sony Music Entertainment catalog. All you need is a library card.

Here's how it works: You can download a few songs a week, and, in many areas, enjoy several hours of streaming, too (the precise number of songs and hours of streaming varies by library). Once you download MP3 files, they're yours. You're free to put them on iTunes, your iPhone, your tablet, and more. You don't have to return them and they don't expire. The counter resets on Mondays at 12:01 a.m. Central Time, so if you hit your limit, you won't have long to wait before you get more downloads. And Freegal has some great stuff: A quick scan of the front page reveals music from Beyoncé, Michael Jackson, Cardi B, Simon & Garfunkel, Childish Gambino, The Avett Brothers, Lykke Li, and Sara Bareilles.

Freegal has been around since 2010 and is offered at libraries worldwide. In the U.S., that includes the New York Public Library, Queens Library, Los Angeles Public Library, West Chicago Public Library, Houston Public Library, and more. In the past few years, libraries have debuted some other amazing free digital services, from classic films streaming on Kanopy to audiobooks and e-books available to borrow on SimplyE and OverDrive. But the thing that's so exciting about Freegal is that you can keep the MP3 files, unlike services that limit you to borrowing.

Freegal's site is easy to navigate: You can browse playlists and make your own, check out the most popular tunes, and save songs to your wishlist for when you get more credits. In the old days, music fans would check out CDs from the library and upload them onto their computers before returning them. But Freegal eliminates the need to go to your local branch, check out an album, and bring it back when you're done.

Freegal app

To find out if your local library has Freegal, go to and click login, then search for your area. It's important to note: Your library's contract might not have both streaming and downloading privileges. You can use Freegal on the web or as an app available on the App Store, Google Play, and Amazon. Of course, the service doesn't have everything. And sometimes, when it does have an artist, it will only have a few of their most popular albums. But if you frequently buy music on iTunes or elsewhere, checking Freegal first may save you a bit of money.

If you don't yet have a library card, Freegal is just one more reason why you should get one ASAP.

Rick Diamond, Getty Images
An Anthology Series Based on Dolly Parton's Songs Is Coming to Netflix
Rick Diamond, Getty Images
Rick Diamond, Getty Images

Though she may be best known for her music career, Dolly Parton is a Hollywood powerhouse. In addition to starring in more than a few contemporary classics, from 9 to 5 to Steel Magnolias, she's also been partly responsible for some of your favorite TV series. As part owner of Sandollar Entertainment, a film and television production company, she's been a silent figure behind shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Now, the queen of country music is preparing to return to the small screen once again—this time on Netflix.

The beloved singer is partnering with Warner Bros. Television to produce an anthology series for Netflix, Engadget reports. Set to debut in 2019, each of the eight episodes will have a theme based on a song by Parton, who will serve as executive producer and singer-songwriter in addition to appearing in the series.

"As a songwriter, I have always enjoyed telling stories through my music," Parton said in a statement. "I am thrilled to be bringing some of my favorite songs to life with Netflix. We hope our show will inspire and entertain families and folks of all generations, and I want to thank the good folks at Netflix and Warner Bros. TV for their incredible support."

The list of songs hasn’t yet been released, but I Will Always Love You, Jolene, and The Bargain Store are among Parton’s greatest hits.

Parton previously worked with Warner Bros. to produce the made-for-television movies Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors (2015) and Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love (2016). She has also nearly finished the music for the upcoming film Dumplin'—based on a novel by Julie Murphy and starring Jennifer Aniston—and the soundtrack will be released via Dolly Records and Sony Music Nashville, according to Parton’s website.

[h/t Engadget]


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