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Behind the Song: Mah Nà Mah Nà

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If you had a chance to catch the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis performing "A Swingin' Sesame Street Celebration: 50 Years and Counting" this weekend, you heard "Mah Nà Mah Nà," a familiar tune from the Jim Henson universe that made its way into the program.

Made famous by the Muppets, the track was originally composed by Piero Umiliani as an Italian novelty pop song in 1968. After reaching significant global success, peaking at US Billboard Hot 100 charts at #55, the song caught the attention of Sesame Street producers, who in 1969 decided it was to be performed by shaggy-haired puppets voiced by Jim Henson, Frank Oz, and Loretta Long on the show's first season. Shortly after, the skit made its late night debut on the Ed Sullivan Show with more developed puppets, solidifying the skit's success in households across the country. Later in 1976, The Muppet Show's first episode featured a reworked version of the Ed Sullivan Show performance, becoming a mainstay in the Muppets universe and a track that defied intergenerational boundaries.

The Wynton Marsalis arranged version of "Mah Nà Mah Nà" featured both in "A Swingin' Sesame Street Celebration" and on the recently released Jazz for Kids album is a playful nod to the instantly recognizable track's start on Sesame Street and its evolution in the past 50 years. Cheers to 50 more years of  "Mah Nà Mah Nà"!