STUFF THAT SCARED ME: Little Chrissy and the Alphabeats

I oftentimes find myself wondering, “How did I get this way?” How did I end up the gore-loving (and relatively normal) weirdo I am today? What things did I consume growing up – whether by television, movies, books, or otherwise – that helped shape and develop my love for the weird, horrific and obscure? I have a ton of fond memories of discovering horror as I got older, but it’s really the darker, weirder, scarier memories that stayed with me and I believe had the biggest impact.

There are a ton of micro-occurrences that probably did most of the shaping, I’m sure – but they’re so buried in my subconscious that I’ll (thankfully) never remember what they are. Instead, it’s a handful of big, clunky memories that stick out to me, ones that I often recall and attribute to conditioning my love for the horrorstuff. These vivid recollections are responsible for what you see before you today.

One of my earliest memories of something scaring the absolute shit out of me – the type of fear that caused me to run from the room hyperventilating, tears streaming down my face – was a brief segment from Sesame Street that originally aired in 1980. In the piece, the band Little Chrissy and the Alphabeats sing a tune entitled, “You’re Alive”, a song in which they describe what makes you a living human being while simultaneously listing things that aren’t alive – like an ice cream cone.

Now, I know what terrified me about it but I don’t know why: the back-up singers singing, “Breathe in! (gasp) Breathe out! (exhale) Breathe in! (gasp) Breathe out! (exhale)”. My God, even watching it today I get chills.

Why? I really have no clue. Maybe it’s the same reason kids are afraid of thunderstorms: it’s a jarring, unsettling sound they aren’t used to. Or maybe it’s the minor key in which the song’s verses are played. Or maybe it’s the creepy, dead-eyed puppets that caused me so much discomfort – seriously, why do they look like that? Are they stoned?

Whatever the reason, I could not watch this segment any time it came on (which seemed to be regularly enough to scar my toddler brain forever). Give it a watch and let me know what you think. Scary, right?

5 thoughts on “STUFF THAT SCARED ME: Little Chrissy and the Alphabeats”

  1. I was looking up info on the puppeteers and voices for Little Chrissy (supposed to be Elton John-ish?) and found this entry. This didn’t scare me, but plenty on sesame st did- the giant letter U that kept molesting Smokey Robinson in a sesame st version of ‘You really got a hold on me”- I still think of that and get chills when I hear the regular version.

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    1. Ha, yeah from what I’ve seen since posting this, looks like others (and I suspect many) have had a weird Sesame Street memory from childhood. Rewatching episodes from the ’70s and ’80s now, I notice a lot of trippy, bizarre stuff that was lost on me as a kid, but clearly stuck with others.

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  2. Their breathing sounds panicked or stressed, which makes my own breathing weird, and is kind of disturbing. I get it.

    Janice from Electric Mayhem on The Muppet Show always scared me, as well as Cecile the ball from Sesame Street. They’re actually pretty similar now that I look at them – orange, big red lips, no real eyes to speak of… Still creepy.

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  3. I remember this clip from Sesame Street when I was growing up. It didn’t effect me the way it did you, but I do remember one that did mess with me when I was little was the music video “Wet Paint”. I really don’t know why, but I actually have watched that clip on Youtube recently and it’s still just really bizarre to me. Cool Idea for a post! Love it!

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    1. Just looked up that “Wet Paint” vid – I can see why a little kid would be scared by it, with the trippy visuals and weird blipping music. It’s funny how some things stick with you. Like I said in my piece, even rewatching “You’re Alive” today strikes a chord deep down inside me. Couldn’t explain it then, can’t really explain it now.

      But thanks for reading! I plan to do more of these, so keep your eyes peeled.

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