JOHN DENVER & THE MUPPETS: A CHRISTMAS TOGETHER
Orignal Air Date: December 5, 1979
Famous felt and folk singer join forces to croon about the Holidays…
John Denver only appeared on The Muppet Show once in 1979, but he’s got far more history with Kermit and company that. That same year, The Muppets were on top of the world. The Muppet Movie had come out, and along with Sesame Street, Jim Henson couldn’t clear enough space on his mantle for all the Grammys he was winning each year.
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Meanwhile, John Denver spent most almost the entire seventies producing crossover hits like “Thank God I’m Country Boy” and “Rocky Mountain High.”
The LP unfolded
Whether due to lucky happenstance, or their similar interest in folksy, old-timey, feel-good music, The Muppets and John Denver teamed up for an album and Christmas special in December of that year. The venture was quite successful, and lead to another collaboration in 1983 with John Denver and The Muppets: Rocky Mountain Holiday.
John Denver at the 1983 Grammys performing with Floyd
How’d I do up there? Christ, this was a difficult special to write up, because A) it barely exists anymore, and B) there’s almost no information on just how the hell it came to be. Not only has John Denver and The Muppet: A Christmas Together never been released on DVD, there was never even a VHS!
Part 1: “The Twelve Days of Christmas“
Should you want to see this special, bootlegged TV tapings of yore are you ONLY option. Obviously, this presented bot a problem, yet it also presented a solution for me. Given the quality of the video out there, how was this little Xmas blog supposed to grab the several dozen screen grabs required for our typical post? Screw it: VIDEO!
Part 2: “The Pleasure of Your Company“
And since not only has no one involved project bothered to curate or even solve the problems involving a release for John Denver & The Muppets: A Christmas Together, I figured I’d get to the bottom of WHY using the only internet tool I have: YouTube. I uploaded the special to my account broken down by song, then wait and see if any copyright holders flagged the video. And sure enough they did!
Part 3: “Alfie: The Christmas Tree” and “We Can All Know Everything“
Starting with this clip – Journalism! Either the “Alfie: The Christmas Tree” poem or Denver’s brief rendition of “We Can All Know Everything” instantly incurred the wrath of the purveyors at Warner Chapell. That means the video above may not appear, or have an ad I don;t personally profit from (RAGE!) Although… I can’t imagine for the life of me why. I know my Xmas music, but I’ve never heard either jam before. Furthermore, I imagine those who are elderly enough to be familiar with it are probably too old to know how to use the internet. Who ya fighting, Warner?
Part 4: “The Christmas Wish“
I dunno, that’s just something that gets to me. With so little money left to be made with physical media, I can’t see why you put up so many barriers to access content like this. Anyone with a remote interest in seeing – or paying for! – John Denver & The Muppets should be granted access. The Muppets may be on an upswing, and/or a bit of a hipster renaissance, but I can’t imagine the young folk having the patience for a special like this.
Part 5: “Christmas is Coming” and “A Baby Just Like You“
DAMMIT! Here’s another video flagged, and thus responsible for the lack of a proper DVD release. And just who is the stalwart company halting the release of the most wholesome piece of entertainment on the planet? Music Publishing Rights Collecting Society… WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU?!
Part 6: “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas“
I suppose what I’m saying is there’s no level of Muppet fan swell that’ll ever get this thing back into living rooms by any conventional means. For one, it’s one of those slooooooooooooow, old-timey Christmas specials, where nothing ever happens that isn’t a bridge to a musical number. Sure, Miss Piggy gives Kermit the boot (offscreen) and sets her loins (lol) on Denver, but even that is to establish the ultra-bizarre Tin Soldier sequence, which is feels more like something that was produced in the 1950s.
Part 7: “The Peace Carol” and “Silent Night“
And there we have it. The final musical number, once again beholden to Warner Chapell music. Which song would that be “The Peace Carol” or “Silent Night” medley?! Surely, the WB doesn’t own the rights to the story of Jesus Denver tells?!?!? Whatever. I move that if you use the word “Carol” in the title of your song, it’s thereby free to the world. Public Domain. Or at least Netflix. Hope you’ve enjoyed this “departure” article. We’re gonna have plenty of photosplosion pieces this year, as well as a couple of slightly different things to look forward to. In other words: I’m sorry, come back!
Ding-Ding-Ding — BIG TIME! Witnessing the story of the baby manger/Bethlehem/Christian bedtime story is acted out with Muppets is one of the most wildly unnerving things I’ve ever laid eyes on. I honestly reccomend viewing the special just to see a Jesus Christ puppet constructed by Jim Henson.
Surprisingly little Santa, other than a hat or two, which felt incredibly bizarre to me. At first I figured it was because those hipy-dippy Muppet folk wanted to keep things nondenominational. SEE THE ABOVE.
Very warm, traditional, and… fine. It’s just fine. However, the sing-songy variety format is so much of a completely different era, I doubt kids would see it anything but a overwrought parody. What am I saying? I was bored by it, and I’ve been around for decades! I’d like to think I spent so much time bitching above on behalf of the older folks out there, those who’d be genuinely moved by the chance to rewatch John Denver & The Muppets: A Christmas Together but will never be afforded the means… but it’s more likely due to watching a cultural milestone like this fall out of the public consciousness forever, and that makes me incredibly depressed. Selfishness! Either way, if you’d like to watch a slow-moving Christmas special featuring The Muppets singing into the camera, there are better options out there.
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If you want to give the gift of John Denver & The Muppets: A Christmas Together to someone in your life who’d most appreciate it, good goddamned luck! I’m afraid you’re going to have to show Grandma how to use Bittorrent. And after that, I doubt she’ll mind the VHS traking errors one bit. However, The album based on the special is plentifully available in numerous forms and re-issues, featuring extra song that just so happen to include “When The River Meets the Sea” from the unbelievably fantastic Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas! Oh, and hipster mecca, Urban Outfitters, has repressed a vinyl version of the album featuring a LP of glorious “Kermit Green” that I’ll probably fail to resist.
2010’s Dec. 1 Christmas Special
A DISNEY CHRISTMAS GIFT
2009’s Dec. 2nd Special