Ask any Muppet fan “Who’s the best singer of all the Muppet performers,” and you’ll probably get the same response every time: Jerry Nelson. His characters have sung country, zydeco, rock, jazz, polka, waltzes, and who knows what else, and they always sound great. Occasionally we would speculate: Wouldn’t it be cool if Jerry recorded an album?
It would be cool, and now it is cool, because now you can buy and download Truro Daydreams, featuring 10 tracks written by Jerry and played and sung by Jerry and friends (including a handful of his Sesame Street colleagues). It’s now available in tangible CD form from CDBaby or as a digtal download from DigStation.
Things get off to a rousing start with “Alligators,” in which Jerry sings of being pursued by the titular reptiles everywhere he goes, which is immediately followed by the jazzy “Little Red,” a song featuring Kevin Clash and Fran Brill that tells us a little bit more about Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf. Actually, “Little Red” and “Noah’s Ark” are the only songs that don’t seem to be written from Jerry’s own point of view. Most of them are quite personal, and in the liner notes PDF that comes with the album, he explains when and where he was when “the muse” led him to compose each one.
Track 3 is “Lazy Day, Bumble Bees,” a song that contains the line “Life is good and I’m feelin’ fine.” And that seems to be the general philosophy of the whole album — life is pretty good, so let’s live it. “Tides” is contemplative, “Be Positive” is inspirational, “Zanzibar” makes you want to run to your travel agent… and they’re all instantly memorable and uplifting. Meanwhile, “Hoboken Honey,” inspired by Jerry’s wife Jan, is surely one of the most adorable love songs ever written, while “Eye of the Storm” is a striking, passionate tribute to some of the important people in Mr. Nelson’s life who have passed on. And the aforementioned “Noah’s Ark” sounds like it was lots of fun to record, with Tyler Bunch, Stephanie D’Abruzzo, and Leslie Carrara-Rudolph providing background vocals and animal noises.
Speaking of the recording, the whole album was apparently recorded “live” in the studio, with no overdubs or ProTools trickery, giving it a really organic, inviting sound. The songs are great, the arrangements sound great, and the whole thing is just very, very listenable.
Truro Daydreams has been in heavy rotation on my iPod in the weeks since its release. I don’t know if Jerry has any more songs up his sleeve, but I’d love to hear a follow-up album, even if it were all covers… I’m sure he could do a great job with country standards, or maybe even Muppet songs originally sung by other performers. In the meantime, I’ll be watching out for those alligators.
by Ryan Roe – Ryan@ToughPigs.com