|Music by||Christopher Cerf|
|Lyrics by||Norman Stiles|
|Publisher|| Splotched Animal Music (BMI)|
Sesame Street, Inc. (ASCAP)
"Put Down the Duckie", performed by Hoots the Owl and Ernie, encourages one not to let possessions get in the way of other activities. Ernie wants to play the saxophone, but due to the presence of Rubber Duckie in his hand, he can only produce a squeak.
Bob sang a portion of the song in a 1993 episode.
In a segment from the 1990s, Ellen DeGeneres listened to this song on a Walkman, explaining to Elmo how portable music players work. (EKA: Episode 3448) This segment occasionally led into the "Put Down the Duckie" sketch (starting with the music playing, cutting out the intro).
During the season that this song premiered, every time a celebrity appeared on the show, the producers would tape a special verse to be sung by that celebrity, and these verses were then edited into the song for later re-airing.
- John Candy (both versions)
- Celia Cruz (both versions)
- Jane Curtin (both versions)
- Pee Wee Herman (1st version only)
- Keith Hernandez (1st version only)
- Jeremy Irons (both versions)
- Gordon Jackson (both versions)
- Madeline Kahn (both versions)
- Danny DeVito (both versions)
- Wynton Marsalis (both versions)
- Jean Marsh (both versions)
- Andrea Martin (both versions)
- Itzhak Perlman (both versions)
- Rhea Perlman (both versions)
- Pete Seeger (1st version only)
- Paul Simon (both versions)
- Ladysmith Black Mambazo (both versions)
- Mookie Wilson (1st version only)
- Mark Ingram (1st version only)
- Sean Landeta (1st version only)
- Carl Banks (1st version only)
- Karl Nelson (1st version only)
- Robert MacNeil (2nd version only)
- Gladys Knight and the Pips (2nd version only)
- Phil Donahue (2nd version only)
- Barbara Walters (2nd version only)
- Joe Williams (both versions)
The closing credits for Sesame Street, Special also included a celebrity montage for this song, including alternate takes/ verses of the featured celebrities (including a verse from Jane Curtin, who appeared but didn't sing in the insert) and the celebrities who appeared in new footage in the special (some of these were later added to the insert). The credits were followed by a brief scene in which Hoots the Owl reveals to Ernie that he gets a funny sound whenever he wants to squeeze his Rubber Duckie, and Ernie offers a solution: "You've got to put down the saxophone if you want to squeak your duckie!"
Aside from the added celebrities, a number of other alterations have occurred between the original and the celebrity-included versions.
- At one point, Hoots lists a number of alternate solutions to holding the duckie. In the celebrity version, footage of Rubber Duckie in these situations were shown along with Hoots singing. This footage was included when a portion of the song was included in Sesame Street: 25 Wonderful Years, though otherwise the clip is of the non-celebrity version (this verse does not appear in audio-only releases of the song).
- The opening music played by the back-up musicians when the sketch starts, before Hoots makes an introduction, is different in both versions.
- Hoots' opening dialogue is slightly different; In the original, when he calls Ernie in he says "Come on in, Ernie!" In the celebrity version, he says "Come on in, Ernie, my man!"
- The lavender drummer in Hoots's band was performed by David Rudman. Noel MacNeal helped with the operating of Ernie's right hand. 
- Put Down the Duckie! (1990)
- Bob's Favorite Street Songs (1991)
- Sesame Street Celebrates! (1994)
- Platinum All-Time Favorites (1995)
- Sesame Street Best (1997)
- Songs from the Street (2003)
- Elmo's Rainbow and Other Springtime Stories exclusive bonus CD (2010)
- Video (celebrity version)
- Sing Yourself Silly (1990, introduction redubbed, closing lines cut)
- Shalom Sesame: Kids Sing Israel (1990, partially dubbed in Hebrew as "Sim Et Barvazi")
- Put Down the Duckie (1994)
- 40 Years of Sunny Days (2009, opening wide shot is cut)
- The Sesame Street Songbook (1992 and 2007 editions only)
- Sesame Street, Special (1988)
- Sesame Street All-Star 25th Birthday: Stars and Street Forever! (1994) (clips)
- The World of Jim Henson (1994) (clips)
- The Street We Live On (2004) (clip in timeline)
The idea behind this song has been borrowed by the Institute for Health Realities research organization of Colorado, as the title for its lifelong health newsletter:
|“||The Duckie represents our old habits—which have become habits because they're what make us comfortable. To move forward in life, we have to put down our Duckies -- or lay aside our old habits. Ernie learns it's the first step for him, and it is as well for the rest of us.||”|
According to Norman Stiles:
|“||I also came up with the idea for song “Put Down the Ducky” one night while eating dinner by myself at a restaurant. The phrase, “You’ve got to put down the ducky if you want to play the saxophone,” came to mind after one vodka on the rocks. Chris Cerf and I wrote the whole lyric around a week later and then he wrote that great tune. The idea to include cuts of celebs came soon after it was recorded and shot. Any celebrity who came to do Sesame Street did their version. I got goose bumps when Ladysmith Black Mombassa [sic] did it.”||”|
- ↑ New York Social Diary: Christopher Cerf
- ↑ Cerf, Christopher Songs from the Street: 35 Years of Music booklet, page 12
- ↑ Email communication with David Rudman and fan, July 16, 2013
- ↑ Facebook communication with Noel MacNeal and friend, August 7, 2014
- ↑ Muppets Gone Missing: Norman Stiles at GraphicPolicy.com