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Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Black Power, Muppet-style

posted by on April 3 at 11:04 AM

roosevelt front.jpg

Another totally random, totally classic song unearthed during my Justify Your Pod interrogation by Megan is the Sesame Street soul-funk number “The Skin I’m In.”

This one you gotta hear. The song is sung by Sesame Street’s original black Muppet, Roosevelt Franklin, voiced by Matt Robinson, who played Gordon on the show. It’s a black pride anthem, wholly positive and totally funky, the kind of music I’d want my kids listening to.

“The Skin I’m In” comes from the 1974 LP My Name Is Roosevelt Franklin, in which the badasss little Muppet counts to ten, recites the alphabet, and extols the virtues of sharing and nonviolence—“don’t tell me to hurt someone who never did hurt me or you”—all in a perfectly enunciated yet wickedly jive voice.

It all sounds kitschy and quaint until you check out the killer bass lines, swinging horn parts, and well-crafted songwriting throughout the album. This stuff is truly inspired and has real musical merit. You’ve never heard the ABCs sung with so much soul.

I first heard Roosevelt Franklin back in college, after a good friend found the record at a Goodwill in Eugene. We rocked “The Skin I’m In” like the fine rare groove track it is. Amazingly, ten years after the fact and separated by a thousand miles, she and I both discovered the entire album available for download at the exact same time this past weekend. Pretty freakin’ cosmic, or as Roosevelt would say, “We musta co-operated!”

RSS icon Comments


Have you talked to Kurt about this? He was looking for a vinyl copy he could make a high quality digital copy of a while back . . .

Posted by Levislade | April 3, 2007 12:29 PM

i have not but ill email him right now. were gonna start a roosevelt franklin revival.

Posted by jz | April 3, 2007 12:32 PM

Here's an especially softer side of black power...from around the same period as Roosevelt Franklin I think.

Posted by Sally Struthers Lawnchair | April 3, 2007 1:24 PM

Nothing beats his work on the Franklin Comes Alive album.


Posted by Jason Josephes | April 3, 2007 1:30 PM

Whoops. Try here instead.

Posted by Jason Josephes | April 3, 2007 1:32 PM

shit jj, neither of those links are working for me. wassup?

Posted by jz | April 3, 2007 1:34 PM

The best work Franklin ever did was inspire the puppet Franklin from Arrested Development. Oh lord, that shit is funny.

Posted by Ari Spool | April 3, 2007 2:38 PM

Damm...I miss AD!!!

I think we've made a terrible mistake.

Posted by Joan Rivers | April 3, 2007 4:34 PM

What, you think a girl with a $3600 suit can't appreciate the black Muppet? COME ON!

Though seriously, I didn't make the connection until now and will go home and watch AD again.

Posted by Jessica | April 3, 2007 5:47 PM

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