There’s a rule in my house: before noon, the only TV allowed is Sesame Street.
Research shows that kids who watch Sesame Street can actually improve their cognitive abilities rather than turn into mindless, screen-addicted zombies. And having rules helps me maintain a semblance of power and authority in a household where my kids are increasingly running this place.
And one day during the pandemic, while I squeezed out a little work during one last episode, I saw a
familiar face on-screen: it was pop-country superstar (and Murray Monster doppelganger), Thomas
Rhett. And while I wasn’t a huge fan of Rhett’s “This is My Street” ode to the show, his presence helped me realize that there’s a reason to love Sesame Street as an adult too.
Sesame Street loves to drop little Easter Eggs for parents to help shake us out of the toddler blues.
Without warning, they’ve thrown “Jurassic Park” and “Game of Thrones” parodies on screen. And they
love sneaking in celebrity cameos. Rhett was the first country music star I’d seen join Elmo and Big Bird on-screen, and that made me eager for more.
In fact, Sesame Street has welcomed many country musicians to the show throughout its 50+ year
history. Here are seven amazing, country music cameos on Sesame Street for you to catch up on. And
don’t feel bad when you fire these up with an ice cold beer after the kids are in bed; that’s what I did.
Surrounded by a few kids in Big Bird hats, Waylon joins Big Bird himself for a parody duet of Waylon’s “Wrong.” And while most Sesame Street parodies are light-hearted renditions that borrow the melody only, this one stays sad and true to the original. The Sesame Street rendition is about the tragedy of your block tower falling down, instead of your marriage falling apart. But in a toddler’s world, I think they’re about on par.
Faith Hill and Tim McGraw
Faith and Tim made an appearance in 1999 to sing a nice little duet about “taking turns” at a time when Tim was still drinking beers instead of protein shakes. As we now know, if you’re taking turns doing anything with Tim McGraw these days, you’re probably doing burpees.
One of the most important things Sesame Street can help us teach our kids is how to deal with their
emotions. And Trisha Yearwood heads straight for the heart with a song about being sad. Turns out
(spoiler alert) she was only waiting for her Martian friend to return home, which he does after she’s
done singing, to the chagrin of the three other characters helping to comfort sad Trisha.
“Cowboy Travis” strides into a saloon in Elmo’s World to sing him a story about Pecos Bill. Tritt even manages to throw in some yodeling in this song, which is… surprising… but sounds pretty damn good.
I can listen to Alison Krauss’s voice all day. So, if she’s singing something called “Sesame Jamboree” with her band, Union Station, while getting interrupted by The Count every few lines, I’m still here for it.
Garth brought his full self to Sesame Street in 1994, singing a song about how all kids are different while clearly enjoying himself. It seems that Garth is a little “different” himself, so maybe he truly felt this one.
The Man in Black absolutely kills it during his two Sesame Street performances. In the first, he joins Oscar the Grouch to sing about a similarly down-on-his-luck character named “Nasty Dan” as only Cash can do it. “That’s my kinda guy,” says Oscar after Johnny walks away from that brilliant pairing of personalities. In the same episode, Johnny sings one of his own songs, “Five Feet High and Rising,” giving you a legitimate, mid-Sesame-Street country song.
And 18 years later, Cash made his second appearance, this time by transforming “Don’t Take Your Guns to Town” into a lesson for Big Bird about the number “1,” called “Don’t Take Your Ones to Town.” Solid gold.