“Follow That Bird”

[sung by Big Bird]

I’m a bluebird that’s been dreaming
Of a rainbow I can follow
To that old familiar place I long to see

Friendly faces, a smile to greet me
Or just a simple “Hello, how are you?”
Oh, without them, I’m so blue
There’s only one thing that will do
To make this heartache end
To be back home again

[Spoken interlude; Rescue Boy:] He sure looks sad.
[Rescue Girl] He sure does.

[BB] I’ll never lose my dreams
Even though this time it seems like
I’m such a long way from any rainbows
That might keep my dreams from fading
Well, no wonder I’m so blue
There’s only one thing that will do
To make this heartache end
To be back home again
To be back home again

Written by Karen Brooks and Randy Sharp


“I’m So Blue” from Follow That Bird

I last posted almost a year ago. I’ve avoided writing this last Follow That Bird piece for so long. I made my excuses—I still have so much research to do before I can write my companion piece for ToughPigs about this scene! Shouldn’t I publish them at the same time?—but when I employed my new ritual of picking which writing project to work on by rolling a die, and this one came up, I knew I couldn’t avoid it any more.

I think I avoided it for so long because on some level it would mean that if my writing about the songs of Follow That Bird is over, the Very Bad Thing that was happening to me when I started with “The Grouch Anthem,” that Very Bad Thing that is now inextricably linked in my head with Follow That Bird, will be over, too.

But wouldn’t I want a Very Bad Thing to be over?

Well, grief is a strange creature.

This song is almost hopeless, but not quite. Big Bird knows exactly what he needs and is dreaming of it, but it seems impossible. He can’t see a way out of his situation. His grief feels endless.

We know he’s going to get home because this is a Sesame Street movie—only happy endings allowed. But when he gets there, he will be a sadder and wiser bird for the journey he’s been on. Big Bird has been manipulated into leaving his family, lived with strangers who told him he shouldn’t have any contact with his old life, spent days running from Miss Finch, been tricked by the Sleaze Brother preying upon his innocence and trusting nature, then captured and forced to sing for his supper with no end in sight.

And he’s six years old.

There’s no way Big Bird is walking away from this without lifelong emotional scars.

But I’ll bet, when all is said and done, that he still keeps in touch with the Dodos from time to time. I’m sure he keeps in touch with Floyd and Ruthie. He probably appreciates the glorious patchwork quilt that is his found family on Sesame Street more than he ever has before.

That doesn’t make any of what happened to him OK. It doesn’t mean there’s a silver lining to everything or a grand plan for any of us.

It only means that part of growing up is allowing there to be room for both—the grief and the love. If we never love anything or anyone, there’s nothing to grieve. But these absurd hearts of ours keep loving, over and over again. Mending and breaking, mending and breaking.

Grief never really leaves us. First it pulls up a chair to stay a while, then brings a suitcase, then a moving truck. Then it starts redecorating. We get used to having it around until it’s just another in the cast of characters of the roommates sitcom in our hearts. It’s in love with Depression, is best friends with Anxiety, always tries to thwart Ambition, has a weird but beautiful dynamic with Joy, etc.

I trust Big Bird to learn to live with Grief the same way he learns to live with Oscar: a permanent resident that refuses to leave, throwing around garbage and insults. Big Bird finds compassion for everyone, and even Oscar has his soft side.

That doesn’t make what happened to Big Bird OK.

But Big Bird is going to be OK.

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