“Upside Down World”

[Movie version, spoken intro. Ernie] Isn’t this fun? [He starts singing la-las to the music.]
[Bert] Ernie! This is no time for singing!
[E] Oh, come on, Bert!

[E] Come fly with me in an upside down world
There’s so many strange things to see
There’s upside down people who walk down the street
With upside down shoes on their upside down feet
In an upside down world
In an upside down world

[B, spoken] Ernie,  I don’t feel too good.

[E] Wheeee! It’s fun to be in an upside down world
There’s fish that fall out of the sea
There’s upside down clocks that make everyone late
Upside down food that won’t stay on your plate
In an upside down world
In an upside down world

[Spoken interlude: B, as dozens of bottlecaps fall out of the plane.] Oh, my bottlecap collection!
[E] Hey, listen, I got an idea, Bert. How’d you like to take over the controls?
[B] No! No!
[E] Sure, Bert. It’s really easy!
[B] No! No! Never in a million years!
[E] Hey, Bert, I’m gonna trade places with you.
[B] Wha?! What, no, Ernie!
[Big Bird, as Bert’s bottlecap collection falls on him] Huh. A hailstorm??

[B] There’s upside down everything all over town
It all looks so funny that I’ve got to frown
‘Cause a frown is a smile when you turn upside down
In an upside down—what side down?
Whoops side down, oops side down
What side down, upside down world

[Spoken outro: Bert laughs] Ernie, don’t stop, this is fun! [Laughs]
[E] Bert, there’s no time for fun now; we’ve gotta find Big Bird!
[B] Oh! [He turns the plane right side up]
[E, looking around] Oh, no. I’m afraid you’ve lost him, Bert.
[B] I’VE lost him?!
[E] Yeah, while you were singing, Bert.
[B] But—you were singing, too! Oh, Ernie! Why didn’t you tell me—you always do that to me!
[E, as they start talking over each other] Oh, Bert, what do we—why don’t you turn the plane around, now, Bert—
[B] I was flying my best! Oh yeah? Will you please—
[E] Can you turn the plane around—
[B] You—you—you drive it! I don’t know how to—
[E] It’s that—It’s that stick in front of you—
[B] You come over here—
[E] Turn the plane, Bert—
[B] Well, I’m coming over there…


[Soundtrack version, Ernie, spoken] Hey, Bert!

[E] Come fly with me in an upside down world
There’s so many strange things to see
There’s upside down people who walk down the street
With upside down shoes  on their upside down feet
In an upside down world
In an upside down world

[B, spoken] Ernie,  I don’t feel too good.

[E] Wheeee! It’s fun to be in an upside down world
There’s fish that fall out oof the sea
There’s upside down clocks that make everyone late
Upside down food that won’t stay on your plate
In an upside down world
In an upside down world

There’s upside down everything all over town
It all looks so funny that I’ve got to frown
‘Cause a frown is a smile when you turn upside down
In an upside down— [B] What side down?
[E] Whoops side down, upside down world

[Spoken interlude: E] Hey, listen, I got an idea, Bert. How’d you like to take over the controls?
[B] No! No!
[E] Sure, Bert. It’s really easy!
[B] No! No! Never in a million years!
[E] Hey, Bert, I’m gonna trade places with you.
[B] Wha?! What, no, Ernie! [Pause; Bert laughs] Ernie, don’t stop, this is fun! [Laughs]
[E] Bert, there’s no time for fun now; we’ve gotta find Big Bird!
[B] Oh!

[B] There’s upside down everything all over town
It all looks so funny that I’ve got to frown
‘Cause a frown is a smile when you turn upside down
In an upside down—what side down?
Whoops side down, oops side down
What side down, upside down world

[Spoken outro: E] Oh, no. I’m afraid you’ve lost him, Bert. [Spoken outro continues the same as the movie version]

Written by Jeff Moss


“Upside Down World” from Follow That Bird

Sometimes a new perspective really does help. I remember back in high school when my other half and I would lie with our heads hanging upside down as we watched the people around us “walking on the ceiling” in the quad, just for the fun of it.

We were at the height of our carefree, impulsive, and creative way of moving through the world. As our beloved math teacher, Smithy, once said, admiringly imitating our ability to find joy in the mundane, “Oh, gee, it’s a stick! Wow! Let’s call him Jerry!” Once, our English-and-Theatre-and-Creative-Writing teacher, Levin, gave the class an assignment to write a list of 50 things that made us happy. My friend and I combined our lists and kept going; when we reached over 365, we made a Happy Thing of the Day calendar for Smithy. When other high school kids were worried about trying to fit in, we were co-writing dadaist stories, creating multiple sets of alter egos, making up words, and throwing joy around like glitter bombs—just as surprising and hard to get rid of as actual glitter, and either magical or annoying, depending on who you ask.

I’m so grateful we had that time together, because it can be really, really hard to find that magic again as an adult. I was a weeping tangle of grief and anxiety leading up to my trip this August to see my family in California—How many delta variant cases is too many? Is there even such a thing as safe travel anymore? Sure, all the adults in the family were vaccinated, but what about the kids and the immunocompromised and all the strangers we all come in contact with? But when I was able to finally unwind a little and enjoy my time with my family, I found that four-year-olds are absolutely brilliant at finding new perspectives without even trying. Carefree, impulsive, and creative is their default mode. They helped me remember how to live in the moment and find joy in the mundane. I pushed them on the swing in their backyard, and they went so high they could lean back and go upside down. I began to sing “Upside Down World,” and they demanded to hear more, so we watched the video clip together.

This has been an unprecedentedly difficult two years for everyone. The world turned upside down. My friend and I have had our struggles, some unique to our respective lives, some very similar. As I contemplate what to make or buy her for Christmas and her birthday, I remind myself that sometimes answers can be gained with a fresh perspective. Surprising delights abound in the Upside Down World, if you know where to look.

Just remember to keep one eye on the larger goal and don’t lose sight of Big Bird.

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