Remember When Waylon Jennings Sang With Big Bird?

It’s not every day that you see a country music legend singing with a muppet, but that’s exactly what happened when Waylon Jennings picked up a hitchhiking Big Bird in the debut Seasame Street feature film, Follow That Bird.

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Having already established himself as a hit singer and actor when the movie came out in 1985, the “Mama Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys” singer represented country music with his role as a turkey truck driver.

While trying to find his way back to Sesame Street, Big Bird happens upon a turkey farmer, portrayed by Jennings, who at first resists Big Bird’s request for a ride, but changes his tune and offers to drive him part of the way.

“Sure you will, you just got to keep going,” Jennings reassures Big Bird about finding his way home. “Pick up your feet and follow your beak.” The two then fittingly break into song, “Ain’t No Road Too Long.” ‘Cause there ain’t no mountain you can’t climb / If you hang on tight and just make up your mind/Once you set your heart to movin’ on / Son, there ain’t no road too long,” Jennings sings while driving through the heartland of America, with fellow Sesame Street characters Grover, The Count, Bert and Ernie also singing along as they attempt to find Big Bird.

“Ain’t No Road Too Long” was written by Jeff Pennig, Jeff Harrington, and Steve Pippin and is featured on the soundtrack. Chevy Chase, John Candy, and Happy Gilmore star Joe Flaherty are among the other famous faces who guest starred in the film that became a cult classic.

“One of the things that I always forget about is that Waylon Jennings drives this turkey truck that we had to change the height of the cab — because, of course, Big Bird is going to get into the truck at some point, and Big Bird is super tall,” Follow That Bird Director Ken Kwapis recalled to IndieWire in 2015. “Nobody ever comments on this, the fact that Waylon Jennings is driving these turkeys around in this truck with this absurdly tall cab. Waylon Jennings and Big Bird actually have good chemistry together.”

Jennings’ appearance in the critically-acclaimed 1985 film inspired his friendship with Caroll Spinney, the puppeteer behind Big Bird at the time. An archived 2003 story from the Silicon Valley newspaper, Metro, says that Jennings and Spinney were at dinner one night when a fan approached the table to get an autograph from the country legend. Pointing at Spinney, Jennings said, ‘He’s the one you want. He’s Big Bird.'”

Jennings had a starring role as the balladeer in the TV series The Dukes of Hazzard prior to Follow That Bird. He also appeared in Married…with Children, Family Guy, and The Angry Beavers throughout his acting career.

Photo by Beth Gwinn/Getty Images

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