Menken working on Disney's Home on the Range

Menken and Calloway backstage at Nashville's James K. Polk Theater in September 1980, prior to a David of Sesame Street performance.

Alan Menken (b. 1949) is an Academy Award-winning composer famous for writing songs from Disney movies such as The Little Mermaid (1989), Beauty and the Beast (1991), Aladdin (1992), and many more. He also wrote the music for the 1982 musical Little Shop of Horrors, which was adapted into a feature film directed by Frank Oz in 1986.

Menken began writing songs for Sesame Street as early as 1978, and toured with cast member Northern Calloway during this time.[1][2] He continued working sporadically for the show through season 22. Of his work on the Street, Menken says, "It was pathetic money, but it still had some prestige to it. It was on the air and I was getting some royalties."[3]

Two of his Sesame Street songs were written with frequent collaborator Howard Ashman. One was unused on the show, but later found life in an animated short called "Aria for a Cow." Another, "The Count's Lament,"[4] was written about Count von Count's inability to pronounce the "w" sound.[5]

Another song is listed in Sesame Workshop's archives as "Up and Down" which is documented to have appeared in season 21 and specifies that it involves chickens.[6] No such song is documented in Muppet Wiki's complete guide for season 21, but another Menken song called "Monster Up and Down" appeared a few seasons later.

Menken and Ashman also wrote the song "Wonderful Ways to Say No" for the 1990 animated TV special Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue. The song was performed by an all-star cast of characters, including Baby Kermit, Baby Piggy, and Baby Gonzo.

Sesame Credits



  1. Burlington Free Press "Sesame Street Star Puts Happy Face By Autograph" by Maggie Maurice, photos by Elaine Isaacson, December 9, 1979
  2. The Tennessean "David of Sesame Street Charms Young Audience" by Clara Hieronymus, photo by S.A. Tarkington, September 15, 1980
  3. Street Gang. Michael Davis. New York, Penguin Group. 2008. p. 269
  4. Thread:299999
  5. Alan Menken on Seth Speaks on SiriusXM, May 4, 2018.
  6. Personal communication via Scott Hanson and Sesame Workshop

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