ABSTRACT

Sesame Street is one of the most widely recognized programs in the history of television, but its centrality to music is often overlooked. In its fifty years on the air, Sesame Street has been an important national venue for twentieth-century popular music idioms, African American and Latino subcultures, American folk and roots music, and classical and world music. Its consistent presence on television has significantly diversified the music that generations of Americans hear daily—but so has its prolific output of soundtrack albums. Between 1970 and 2010, Sesame Street released 97 original cast albums, 28 compilation albums, 53 reissues, 11 45-rpm boxed sets, 13 soundtracks to its live touring shows, and 84 book-and-audio sets.1 In many ways, they are archetypal paratexts, creating cross-platform synergy by linking television stories and characters, interactive home and classroom listening, and live sing-along performances.