Sunday, August 26, 2007

Apple #263: Sesame Street, Pinball Number Count

I have a certain song in my head right now. It arrives often. It's an old, old friend.

This one is a medley of several of the skits put together.

And this version highlights Number 7.

One of the things I remember for sure is how the blimp at the very end never makes it to the right edge of the frame. Every time I'd watch and hope, but of course, every time it would stop just short of the frame. Maybe in heaven, that will be one of the things that gets completed and I will sigh and say, "Ah, thank you."

  • The song's official name is Pinball Number Count and was released in 1972.
  • It was performed by The Pointer Sisters -- all four of them.
  • Although the song is meant to teach children to count from 1 to 12, and there are different variations for each number, they never made a version for the number 1.
  • Music and lyrics were composed by Walt Kraemer.
  • Kraemer worked for a company called Imagination Inc., which was based in San Francisco. He says, "forgive me if I'm a bit hazy as to some of the particulars" about how the song was conceived.
  • Originally, Mr. Kraemer said, he wanted to write a song in 12-4 or 12-8 time, but that didn't work out.
  • He also said he wasn't aware, until the song was completed, that they had used the first five notes from the Woody Woodpecker Song.

  • Jeff Hale was the director and main creator of the animation.
  • Hale studied at England's Royal Academy of Art before co-founding the San Francisco-based Imagination Inc. animation company with his wife, Margaret.
  • I have to say, while many of these are slightly odd and funny, none of them approach the funkeriffic-ness that is the Pinball Number Count.
  • Other animations Hale has directed or helped produce include The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show (Academy Award nominee), Here Comes Garfield (Academy Award nominee), Thank You Mask Man, and several episodes of Transformers.

Family Guy parodied the Pinball Number Count, briefly. I'm surprised to see that they seem to have used the original Pointer Sisters soundtrack.

If you want to own the Pinball Number Count to watch over and over, you can buy it on this collection of gems from the first five seasons of Sesame Street, which is from 1969-1974.

Sesame Street - Old School, Vol. 1 (1969-1974)
is a 3 DVD set and can be yours for $26 from Amazon.

You can also learn how to make a clock that looks like the one at the beginning of the video, from

What your own Pinball Number Count clock could look like
(Photo from

Ninjatune, Solid Steel Presents Sesame Street
Ballofstringtheory, A Letter from Walt Kraemer, September 10, 2003
"ASIFA-SF Co-Founder Margaret Hale Dies," AWN, February 24, 2003
Curious Artist, Walt Kraemer's Pinball Number Count, May 4
IMDB, Jeff Hale (II)
Milk and Cookies, Pointer Sisters: Sesame Street Pinball Number Count
JocTV, Pinball Song #6 - Sesame Street, Sesame Street "Jazzy Spies," August 30, 2006
Q Daily News, The Pinball Number Count Lives! April 19, 2006
Webomatica, Deconstructing Sesame Street Animations, December 26, 2006
Moviegrooves, C is for Cookie
Press Release Network, "Rob Coleman, Animation Director for Star Wars Episode I: Phantom Menace Gives Keynote Address," October 16, 1999
Muppet Central Forum, Sesame Street Fairy Alphabet
Muppet Wiki, various episode entries

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