There’s a bit of a setup to this song: Big Bird is pouting in his nest, jealous of the new baby Cody which gets a lot of attention. The whole street is concerned about Big Bird. If you ask me, Big Bird is being a bit of a bitch about it all but clearly he’s going through some strong feelings. The ever-graceful Buffy Sainte Marie1 comes in to share a song with him about the different kinds of love and attention you can give people based on their needs, with the refrain “different people, different ways.” Big Bird seems placated.
“Different people, different ways” has been a useful parenting tool. It helps us resolve unfairness in moments of sibling rivalry, but also helps in explaining differences of the human condition. Why do they use a wheelchair? Why are they short? Why do they talk like that? Why does that kid get to play with toys in the classroom and I don’t? … Different people, different ways.
A simple enough refrain that if I start it, my kids will finish.
Ask me in twenty years if it worked, but I think they already get that “fairness” can take different shapes when it’s centered around meeting different people’s different needs.
I love him 'cause he's tiny and small I love you because you're yellow and tall Tiny and small love Yellow and tall love Everyone loves through all their days Different people, different ways I love him 'cause he has to be fed I love you because you make your own bed He has to be fed love You make your own bed love Different people, different ways I love him 'cause he's small and helpless He has to be washed and fed each day I love you cause you're big and helpful You can read, sing, and play I love him 'cause he's sugar and spice I love you because you're awfully nice Sugar and spice love Awfully nice love Tiny and small love Yellow and tall love Everyone loves through all their days Different people, different ways