As you may have noticed, we’re reviewing every season of Sesame Street here at Tough Pigs. That means I’ve been watching a lot of Sesame Street lately, and that means I’ve been seeing a lot of classic segments that were run and re-run frequently. 

One such segment is the song “Jellyman Kelly,” performed on the roof of 123 Sesame Street by pop star James Taylor, accompanied by tuba player Howard Johnson (the musician, not the founder of the hotel chain) and a bunch of eager kids. You can watch it here. It’s a jaunty tune and a pleasant little number, but every time I see it, I find that I walk away with more questions than answers. So many questions.

So I’m going to pick it apart here, line by line.  Why? Because I don’t have anything better to do! Let’s begin…

Here’s a song about Jellyman Kelly 

Nice! I like songs! This should be neat. I wonder why they call him Jellyman Kelly! 

He loves jelly the most 

Oh. That explains it. 

Ah, but most of all, Jellyman Kelly loves jelly on toast 

Most of all? But does that mean he loves it more than he loves any other method of consuming toast? Or he loves it more than anything else in the world? 

And here’s the part about Jenny Mulhenny 

I like songs that tell you in no uncertain terms what part of the song you’re hearing. I get so confused. Like, “Is this the part about the streetlights and the people? Or is this still the part about the midnight train going anywhere?” 

She’s the fireman’s daughter 

Yikes. I think I’ve heard this joke before, and it is FILTHY. 

Yeah, but most of all, Jenny Mulhenny loves to boil hot water 

Well, that’s nice. But again, I need clarification here. Is boiling hot water Jenny’s #1 favorite pursuit in life? Also, why would you boil hot water? If it’s hot water, chances are it’s already been boiled! 

So Jenny put the kettle on, Jellyman Kelly, can he come home? Jenny, can he come?
Jenny put the kettle on, Jellyman Kelly, can he come home? Jenny, can he come?
 

Here’s the part I really don’t understand. Is James Taylor asking Jenny if Kelly can come home? Does Kelly need Jenny’s permission before he can come home? Why not cut out the middleman (or the middle-Mulhenny) and just ask Kelly if he’s coming home? 

OHHHHH, CAN HE COME HOME? JENNY, CAN HE COME HOME? JENNY, CAN HE COME?
OHHHHH, CAN HE COME HOME? JENNY, CAN HE COME HOME? JENNY, CAN HE COME?
 

Man, the kids in the song are so happy to be yelling along with this chorus. There must have been a lot of kids in the viewing audience who went around at home bellowing this song and driving their parents crazy. 

Yadyada yadahoo-doo, Papa
Yodel-ay-
hoo
Da-voo-day doo-doo doo
Yakka yakkayakka yakka, come on home! 

Now this… this speaks to me. I completely get what Taylor is trying to say here about the generation gap, and the melting pot of American society, and how important it is to truly listen to each other and come together instead of dismissing the thoughts of others as gibberish. 

OHHHHH, CAN HE COME HOME? JENNY, CAN HE COME HOME? JENNY, CAN HE COME?
OHHHHH, CAN HE COME HOME? JENNY, CAN HE COME HOME? JENNY, CAN HE COME?

Great. More children shouting. Just great. 

That’s the story ‘bout Jellyman Kelly 

Wait. That’s it? THAT’S the story? So the story is: There’s a guy who likes jelly, and a woman who likes boiling water. Where’s the conflict? Where’s the rising action, climax, and falling action? Not much of a story. 

He sure loves jelly! 

How much does he love jelly? Can you give me some examples of memorable moments from Kelly’s history that illustrate his exceptional fondness for jelly? Show, don’t tell! 

And yes, maybe someday, you and me, friend, we can have tea with him 

I get it… We’re going to have tea with Jellyman Kelly, and his friend Jenny Mulhenny will boil the water for the tea, because that’s her thing. I do appreciate the attempt at respecting our intelligence concluding the song without spelling everything out for us. Also, I hope the next thing in this episode is a baker falling down the stairs with pies. 

OHHHHH, CAN HE COME HOME? JENNY, CAN HE COME HOME? JENNY, CAN HE COME?
OHHHHH, CAN HE COME HOME? JENNY, CAN HE COME HOME? JENNY, CAN HE COME?

Jenny. Please answer these children so they stop yelling. Thank you. 

Click here to tell me it’s just a song on the Tough Pigs forum! 

by Ryan Roe – Ryan@ToughPigs.com 

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