New Song – Lady Aberlin’s Muumuu

February 12th, 2008

Took a bit longer than expected to finish – I had some trouble getting the mix right (it’s not) and also I wanted to get some lady vocals in there (courtesy of my lovely and talented sister Lacey Kohl). But now, here it is.

One of the nice things about being a father is the opportunity to watch Mister Rogers again. I have such fond memories of the show from when I was a kid, and watching it still makes me all happy and fuzzy inside. It’s just so great. Fred Rogers was a genius and a saint and probably a space alien from the planet Love, Johnny Costa can make pianos play just by thinking about them – the whole thing is so mellow and pleasant and awesome. If opium were a TV show, it would be Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.

But watching it again for the first time in many years, I was reminded how much I loved (I should say: LURVED) Lady Aberlin. I always picture her in this one particular blue dress with flowers on it, I have no idea if it’s a muumuu. But she’s pretty and has a pretty voice and she’s so nice to little Daniel Striped Tiger. I’m getting all flushed just thinking about it. This song is sort of a love song to her, by way of that dress.

Lady Aberlin’s Muumuu

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Chords and lyrics

63 Responses to “New Song – Lady Aberlin’s Muumuu”

  1. Gle3nn says:

    This song is heavenly. It truly is a beautiful day in the neighborhood now.

  2. Luke M says:

    Bliss. Your songcraft just gets better and better.

  3. Betty Aberlin might like to hear it – according to IMDB, she’s still available for work, if JoCo wants her to do some backup vocals… which would be, I have to admit, totally awesome.

  4. ShaggyJD says:

    I also am a big fan of the late Fred Rogers. I had the good fortune to chat with him when he spoke and performed for our music department at Rollins College in Florida. Before he even opened his mouth, you could tell that surely this was the kindest man who ever lived. I was amazed: for all the millions of fans he had, he seemed (and, I think, *was*) genuinely interested in each and every one those he met as an individual. There will never be another like him. Some trivia that illustrate my point, from Mental Floss magazine can be found at:

    http://www.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/5943

  5. Demetrius says:

    We also have a great fondness for Mr. Rogers (the person and the show). Our son even has a middle initial “S” that he doesn’t know stands for “Striped Tiger”… unless he’s reading this… in which case – GET OFF THE COMPUTER AND DO YOUR HOMEWORK!

  6. manyhills says:

    Wow. I have no idea what this Mr Rogers thing is (don’t bother telling me, if I could be bothered I’d have found it out) but damn that tune is nice.

  7. MaW says:

    I also have no idea what this Mr Rogers thing is (maybe it’s because I’m British?) but the atmosphere of the song and the info about it puts me in mind of Playschool and the Magic Roundabout. It’s like the happy curiosity of a child on a sunny summer’s day.

    I love it!

  8. Demetrius says:

    Mr. Rogers Neighborhood was a children’s show on public television. Fred Rogers, the host, was probably one of the best human beings that ever lived.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_Rogers

  9. BorbaSpinotti says:

    Utter gorgeousness. The kind of thing you feel you ought to feel guilty for enjoying. Like MaW, I can’t claim to have the TV show in my frame of reference, but I still feel priviledged to share vicariously in JoCo’s memories.

  10. Bustin says:

    This really is a lovely song. It evokes some old and simpler memories.

    It is easy to underestimate sometimes the effect Fred Rogers had on people of my generation. When I graduated from UConn in 1991 Fred was our commencement speaker. When he came out, I swear that 3000-some Liberal Arts majors LOST … THEIR … MINDS. Seriously the place went nuts. By pure chance I had ended up in the first row of the Gampel Pavillion and as he walked by I waved to him, and there is nobody on this planet who could convince me he didn’t wave back at me. His speech was sweet and inspiring. Just an great individual.

  11. Jack F says:

    Very nice song. This really shows JoCo has a much wider range than a casual listener might think.

    Everybody rumba!!

  12. Stacey Leggieri says:

    I found a nice video clip of Lady Aberline in the Land of Make Believe:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I7APE6mmZi8

    No muumuu, but you can see what JoCo’s going on about anyway. :D

  13. CALI says:

    Thank you for more listening pleasure Jonathan!

    Well done!

  14. Ceridwyn says:

    Awww that was just lovely :)
    I’ve never seen the show (living in NZ and all…) but now I’m intrigued! :P
    The lady vocals were just right too btw, quite evocative!

    I feel like I’ve just spent a sunny afternoon on a beach being fanned with palm leaves by muumuu-clad singing ladies.

    Thank you!

  15. AverageJon says:

    OK, now I remember Lady Aberline.

    I had confabulated the puppets Lady Elaine (Lady __) and King Friday (who wore a blue cloak). Somehow, that didn’t seem like a good subject for a love song.

    I’m glad I can stop shuddering now.

  16. Grant says:

    Oh, the memories. I have many fond memories involving Mr. Rogers.

    Also, the melody reminds me a little of the song that Michael Caine sang in The Muppet Christmas Carol.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Muppet_Christmas_Carol

  17. rick says:

    Brilliant lyric and a great bossa nova rhythm. Much more sophisticated than the actual lady, I suppose. but that’s not a complaint.
    I very much appreciate how you take creative inspiration from so many varied sources. Keep up the good work JC.

  18. Ryan says:

    It’s great! I can’t help but think that some bongo drums in the background would add to it, but maybe that’s just me. Great stuff! Keep ‘em comin’!

  19. Super Dave says:

    I loved watching this all come together. Excellent melodies, clever lyrics, and a wonderful display of your chord vocabulary. Any other “fake” styles of music you want to jump into, I know I’d love to hear. Thanks for the great song!

  20. Mea says:

    I’ve been lurking for ages. Found you though “Cast On” podcast. Is it totally geeky to admit my husband and I play your music whenever we’re travelling. Our 4 yr old has been know to run around the house saying he’s “Tom Cruise Crazy” (even though he has no idea what he’s talking about). This latest song is great. I’ve been telling everyone who will sit still to listen to you and buy your music and have been sending your URL to all sorts of folks. Hopefully they’ll all buy something!

  21. Courtney says:

    Beautiful. I don’t have many memories of Mr. Rogers neighborhood, though I know I watched it. For me, the analogy would probably be to Mr. Wizard as a TV personality.

    Anyway, never posted here before and just wanted to tell you thanks!

  22. Clay says:

    Sounds like Astrud Gilberto. That’s a good thing. =)

  23. Kurt says:

    Fred Rogers really understood children and how they think and feel. I think he raised a lot of kids from my generation. If anyone still cares about anyone else anymore, he’s probably responsible for it.

  24. Giggleloop says:

    Turned out very beautiful indeed. :)

  25. Chuck says:

    listening to this song and reading the Fred Rogers wiki, brings me to tears of mixed emotion, thank you Jonathan Coulton, Thank you.

  26. Dan.h2 says:

    Excellent song. Next to this “The Girl From Ipanema” is crap. Simultaneously evocative of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood and the warm sandy tropics which is not an obvious pairing, but the sort of thing you do so well. It’s also great to hear that Mr. Roger’s is loved by people today who were probably too cool to admit it when they were younger. I watched him when I was little, in college sometimes when I couldn’t get a date and was trying to repair what little self esteem I had left any way I could, and now with my 3 year old girl. Wonderful tribute. Fred would’ve loved it.

  27. Roman V. says:

    A Mr. Rogers-inspired song, for the win Coulton. For the win.

  28. Lady Aberlin says:

    Dear Jonathan –

    I can’t imagine a more wonderful surprise – and it is a lovely song, with discerning lyrics, on many levels. One of the reasons for the mumu (I know the one you mean – from Afghanistan, I think) aside from the no-budget-for-wardrobe, was the Lady A, was not supposed to be “alluring”, but a Big Sister creature – Fred was very clear on this. Hence the shapless empire dresses, which are worn over and over, ovrr the years. This Friday one of the “operas” airs: Windstorm in Bubbleland. I came to Pgh. and found my eay into the Neighborhood because I followed a very funny parody of “Girl From Ipanima” I wanted to sing. It was in THE MAD SHOW (a revue based on Mad Magazine), and unbeknownst to be, it had been written under a false name (Esteban Ria Nido) by Stephen Sondheim. It was called “Boy From”. This is more than you wanted to know, but the “softer side” might lie within the pages of a book of poems just published (The White Page Poems), and I do have a bit of back-up cred, having been t=in the original company of Getting My Act Together. There’s a funny bit on utube under Alice at the Palace, about halfway through The Lobster Quadrille….but I’m wandering. No one has ever seen fit to honor my character with a song – since Fred. Women continually approached Lady Aberlin’s mu mu and asked whether she was pregnant over the years. Daniel Striped Tiger was perhaps my only child. I will ber the wonderful heaven & earth ’round my shoulders from now on, and listen to this lovely song again and again.

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I will run and tell King Tuesday immediately!

    with love,

    Betty Aberlin

  29. Lady Aberlin says:

    llots of typos: apologies: over & over, over the years….found my way into…..unbeknownst to me…(omit t=)…I will bear…

  30. Lady Aberlin says:

    lots

  31. Angelastic says:

    Mister Rogers… now where have I heard that name before?

    …Mister Rogers in a blood-stained sweater! :o

    I’m really going to have to find out who this guy is now!

  32. GenXer says:

    Wonderful to have a comment from the Lady herself, but I’m just a bit curious. Wouldn’t she know that the Neighborhood of Make-Believe’s royal family was King Friday, Queen Sarah Saturday, and Prince Tuesday?

  33. Luke M says:

    @GenXer

    I can vouch that that is indeed Betty Aberlin. And I can also attest that fans often remember details of their favorite shows better than the performers do. Stephen Fry was once terrified by a man in the street who screamed “Flanders pigeon murderer!” at him…until the man apologized and said he had just assumed Fry would recognize the “Blackadder” reference.

  34. Jes says:

    Jonathan, I waited so long to hear the finished product, but you had to take a call. Me: “8 bv’s?!” You: “yep, 8!” I originally thought baby had received character dolls from Mr. R’s NoMB from WQED or a local. ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL! I had no idea!

    Then a message from Ms. Aberlin, Oh My!

    The Yinzer’s Dahntan might joy one. ;-) !

  35. Jesss says:

    Maybe Prince Tuesday has been crowned since the death of King Friday?

    I thought it was great that she wrote in and, what is more, loved the song

  36. Andrea says:

    Oh, Brits, oh my goodness. With all the crazy cultural junk we export to you, we never sent over Mr. Rogers???

    OK, think of the kindest, gentlest, sweetest man you could ever imagine. Now think of him on an earnest public television show, looking straight into the camera and telling you that you — YES, YOU, RIGHT THERE! — are a wonderful and special person, just by being you. No matter what you look like or if you mess up and say something mean or get angry or scared. Mr. Rogers loved you. By all accounts, he was just that marvelous, wise and kind in person, too, and never too busy or famous to speak to a child, or a former child, who recognized him.

    Half of his show took place in his house — he’d always start it off by changing from work shoes and jacket into his sweater and sneakers, while singing “It’s a Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood.” Then he might get a visit from Mr. McFeely, the mailman, with a special delivery, perhaps a film of a crayon factory tour, for example. We might watch him make something in his kitchen or visit with a neighbor. Then, he’d sit down on this bench seat in front of a track, and a toy trolley would come out and whistle at him, and we’d follow the trolley into the Neighborhood of Make Believe.

    And that is where beautiful, sweet young Lady Aberlin (a human) lived, along with a man in a dog suit called Bob Dog, a human handyman, and puppets: monarchs (King Friday XVIII, Queen Sara and Prince Tuesday), a grouchy old lady who lived in a merry go round called Lady Elaine Fairchild, X the Owl, shy Daniel Tiger, and of all things a chair-manufacturing puppet guy called Cornflake S. Pecially. Adventures ensued, of course, but at the end the trolley would always take us back into Mr. Rogers’ living room for the goodbye song.

    It’s the kind of show you outgrow pretty quickly when you hit elementary school, because it’s for “babies”, but never, EVER forget. Once your “I’m a big kid now” defiance wears off, usually by late teens or college, you can see again how awesome that show was. That show was magnificent, a ray of sunshine and kindness, and I hope it’s never forgotten.

    The day Mr. Rogers died I was driving my car when I heard it on NPR. (Like Loudon Wainwright III, look up his song “Hank and Fred” on iTunes.) I cried and cried, and I think I had to pull over. I am crying now just thinking about it and listening to JoCo’s beautiful new song.

  37. JC says:

    Andrea is right about everything. Also there is this awesome footage of Fred Rogers testifying before the senate and saving public television, which makes me weep.

    And OMG Betty Aberlin left a comment! I. Am. Freaking. Out.

  38. [...] good things that have come my way since I started this crazy music thing, the best by far might be receiving a comment from the actual Betty Aberlin. I don’t usually like to brag about this sort of thing, but [...]

  39. Bridget says:

    This song was just what I needed today, thanks. Happiness and joy! My cares melted away there for a few minutes.

  40. Hepcat says:

    That is just lovely, that you heard from Lady A. herself. Congrats! (And thanks for the link to Fred Rogers’ testimony, which was also quite moving.)

    It’s been a goosebumpy kind of day. I spent much of my commute today listening to “A Talk with George” (which I just discovered) again and again, and words can’t express how much I love that song.

  41. Al says:

    Re: Angelastic’s post
    That’s from Lemon Demon’s song “The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny” http://www.lemondemon.com
    The song’s free.

  42. Lady Aberlin says:

    The pleasure is so mine! And yes, the make-believe goes on beyond the circle of PBS – cousin Tuesday has indeed inherited the Kingdom, and he is a young, wise King. He is Tuesday the First. The castle dress-code has been relaxed, although the old mumu still hangs in the M room closet. Draped in clouds.

    abundant gratitudes!

    “Correct as Usual, Lord Coulton”

  43. Erik says:

    You have no idea how much I needed this song today :D

    Very soothing. I love it

  44. [...] I saw that my songwriting idol, Jonathan Coulton, had finished another song. After listening to it(and then going back to listen to My Beige Bear for good measure), I think my [...]

  45. Eric j says:

    Can someone get Lady Aberlin a copy of the Lascivious Biddies’ song “Neigbor”? I think she’ll be pleasantly surprised.

  46. Jen says:

    Muumuus ruule.

    Thanks for brightening my Singles Awareness Day. Code Monkey like Muu……Muu.

  47. ouija repair says:

    Very, very nice! The background vocals sort of of took me back to the Dionne Warwick or Herb Alpert era. At least I think that’s why I imagined I was listening to it on a walnut-grain console stereo, Eggcelent, as always.

  48. Hepcat says:

    “Correct as Usual, Lord Coulton”

    I’m sure that made your fannish heart squee, Jonathan. Heck, I had a moment of absolute squee for you.

  49. Chris says:

    Out of curiosity, is this the aforementioned dress? Also, I guess you’re not the only one who had a bit of a crush on Lady Aberlin.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55Rcfll2gCo

  50. Patrick M says:

    Oh, good. I’ve been a fan of Lacey ever since her early work in the Coul-tones.