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Written by Joe Raposo
Date 1972
Publisher Muppet-Jonico Publishing Co.
First Episode 0493

The Muppet Performers (Richard Hunt, Jerry Nelson, Jim and Jane Henson) performing the scary monsters in the original, unaired version of the song.

1998 version

Bedtime with Elmo animated sequence


"Imagination", also known as the "Imagination Song," was first included on Havin' Fun with Ernie & Bert, a Sesame Street album from 1972. On the album version, Ernie tells the listeners to close their eyes to see what they can see with their eyes closed, and Bert, Big Bird, Herbert Birdsfoot, Prairie Dawn, Grover and Oscar the Grouch make comments before Ernie starts singing this song.

In the television version, this segment starts with Ernie telling Bert that he can't sleep because he is scared of monsters; not friendly monsters like the ones he knows, but scarier monsters who hide in the dark and go "wubba, wubba." Bert tells Ernie to imagine some things that he is not afraid of (primarily balloons of different sizes), and the pair sing the song.

An unaired version of this song was taped, referred to internally by the Workshop as "Monster Opera." In the extended, ten-minute segment, Ernie's good night sleep is roused by the sounds of a cat and a dog nearby and wakes up Bert as a result, who tries to quell Ernie's fears. Ernie's imagination begins to run away with him, as he imagines the street populated with scary monsters (who are depicted as transparent to convey being imaginary) that sing a brief, chilling song. Frightened, Ernie wakes up Bert again and sings a song about his fear (howling "Go away, bad things, go away!") as he imagines the monsters invading their bedroom. Bert convinces him to imagine pleasant things instead as he launches into "Imagination."[1] Tests with child audiences showed that children paid more attention to Ernie's fear than to the song itself, so the intended message was not fully comprehended. The prologue was subsequently omitted and the entire segment reworked.[2] A new, shorter prologue was produced and woven into footage of the original version. Behind the scenes photos of the unaired version can be seen in issue #20 of the magazine KIDS.

The sketch was re-recorded on Sesame Street for Season 30 in almost exactly the same way as the original televised version, with Steve Whitmire performing Ernie. (First: Episode 3820) This version was released on the 2009 video Bedtime with Elmo, with new animated sequences by Misseri Studio.

Elmo also sang this song on The Best of Elmo CD.

On Sesamgade the song ("Fantasi-sangen") was one of the regular songs that was sung by Elmo and Signe. Abelardo sings the song to a pair of birds in his treehouse-nest in a Plaza Sรฉsamo scene. (YouTube)

The song was performed as the finale number of the stage show Elmo's TV Time at Universal Studios Singapore.


Ernie's version


Elmo's version


See also