When my little Bear was actually little, he loved the show “Bear in the Big Blue House.” Now my Tiger has discovered it, too. Yes, it’s aimed at preschoolers, but Muppets are ageless. Myself, I can’t stand the squeaky voice of Tutter the Mouse, but I’m utterly charmed by the big Bear and his little niece Ojo.
I’ve always loved the show’s music, too, even after logging thousands of miles with those tunes filling our car. The one that always struck a melancholy chord in me is “The Goodbye Song,” sung by the Big Bear in a duet with his lovely friend Luna the Moon at the end of each episode. Meant to help the child let go of the fantasy world and transition calmly back to reality with the promise of another day, it had an opposite effect of me, evoking fragility and impermanence and frank loss.
It’s partly the key change that would put me in a melancholy mood, but most of all it was Luna’s voice. Before googling the show yesterday to see if it’s still in reruns (apparently yes, but not where I live), I didn’t know that Luna was sung by Lynne Thigpen, an actress and singer whose career spanned the stage (Godspell), movies (Anger Management), and oversized Bear muppets.
Thigpen was struck down at age 54 when she suffered a massive cerebral hemorrhage in early 2003. When she died, the show died with her. Her Wikipedia page says that “the crew’s hearts just weren’t in it anymore.” I had wondered why the show disappeared so abruptly and blamed corporate greed at the Disney channel. Wish I’d been right.
I never knew Ms. Thigpen, but I love her voice, and I love her work. I wish I’d known her name years ago. Her voice lent company and comfort in those topsy turvy, sleep deprived, sometimes lonely days of early parenthood.
Bear: Hey, this was really fun
Luna: We hope you liked it too
Bear: Seems like we’ve just begun
Both: When suddenly we’re through
Bear: Goodbye, goodbye, good friends, goodbye
Both: Cause now it’s time to go
Bear: But, hey, I say, well, that’s OK
Luna: Cause we’ll see you very soon, I know
Bear: Very soon, I know
Both: Goodbye, goodbye, good friends, goodbye
Bear: And tomorrow, just like today
Luna: (Goodbye – today)
The moon, the bear and the Big Blue House
We’ll be waiting for you to come and play
To come and play, to come and play.
She died too soon. Tomorrow is not just like today. It’s not OK.
So to Lynne: Goodbye, goodbye, good friends, goodbye. And to Luna: Thanks for the light.