By Zachary Swickey
We’re all excited for Jason’s Segel’s film The Muppets, which hopes to revitalize the nostalgic franchise, and some notable musicians seem amped up as well. Weezer, My Morning Jacket and Paramore’s Hayley Williams are a few of the contributors who will all appear on The Green Album, which is quite the appropriate title.
Due Aug. 23 – two months before the film’s Nov. 23 release date – the record will consist of artists tackling cover versions of some of the best songs from our childhood. Hayley Williams has the honor of having Weezer as a backing band and the duty of performing Kermit’s most famous piece, “Rainbow Connection.” Amy Lee of Evanescence will also appear, supplying a cover of “Halfway Down the Stairs,” while goth-poppers Alkaline Trio have recreated “Moving Right Along.” My Morning Jacket, who are such big Muppet fans they nearly toured together (seriously, check out the vid above!), will be in charge of covering the classic “Our World.”
It’s great to see modern day musicians covering songs dating back to the original Muppets’ show. You might be surprised by some of the musical guests that were featured on the original program, but lucky for you, we made this list of memorable moments.
Yes, even the Man in Black got cozy with Miss Piggy 30 years ago on the show’s fifth and final season in 1981. Cash performed his 1965 hit “Orange Blossom Special” before breaking into a duet with Miss Piggy on “Jackson,” which originally garnered Cash and wife June Carter Cash a Grammy award. For “Riders in the Sky,” Cash was joined by Lubbock Lou and his fellow Jugghuggers along with Gonzo running around onstage dressed as an outlaw.
Sam the Eagle wasn’t thrilled with Elton John’s appearance on the show, claiming he “dresses like a stolen car.” Kermit defends John’s honor and says artists like Mozart were known for dressing extravagantly. Sam promptly bets that information is false, but when proven wrong, the stoic eagle is forced to don a glittery patriotic outfit when introducing the closing song. John was backed by Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem on his classic “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” before joining Miss Piggy for “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart.”
The Muppets are most certainly from a different era. The fact that Alice Cooper – a vintage Marilyn Manson, if you will – appeared on a children’s television show is hard to believe. (The creepiest man ever, Vincent Price, did the same two years before him.) In 1978, Alice Cooper was a guest on season 3 of the show, and the plot – I kid you not – involved Cooper identifying himself as a liaison of sorts for Satan who would grant the Muppets “fabulous riches and worldwide fame” in exchange for their felt souls. Cooper performed “Welcome to My Nightmare” and “School’s Out” alongside some of the burlier, more monstrous Muppets.
Not every star has written a tune specifically for a Muppets character, but that’s just what Julie Andrews did with “Song for Kermit,” which she performed for her 1975 television special: My Favorite Things. For her Muppets appearance in 1977, she dusted off the song and sang it to Kermit in her dressing room. She didn’t shy away from Sound of Music material either, performing “The Lonely Goatherd” with Kermit as a Prince and a goat, of course.
Who other than Paul Simon could inspire Gonzo to become a songwriter? Gonzo’s “For You” – “For you, I’d wash my hair with stinky glue” – is no “Sound of Silence,” but the muppet gives it his all. The episode was one of the most complicated the production ever had to stage, as Simon performed “Scarborough Fair” in a Renaissance-style that included maypole dancing and lute playing from the Muppets. Simon was backed by the Electric Mayhem band and a trio of female muppets for the closing number, “Loves Me Like a Rock.”