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The “Mahna Mahna….” Conspiracy

Ever since I saw The Muppets a few weeks ago I’ve been completely unable to get the “Mahna Mahna” song out of my head. It plays on a continual loop in my brain. It’s a perfect song! It could go on forever if you wanted. The words are so easy to remember; really all you need is “Mahna” and “Doot.” But this was not always the case. Get ready to have your little minds blown.

Most people know the song from its different appearances on The Muppet Show in the 70s. These would look something like this:


We’re all familiar with it. It’s like an old friend. But when the bit first premiered in a 1969 episode of Sesame Street, the lyrics were severely different. Viz:


W…T…FUCK! It’s like learning Pluto isn’t really a planet or finding out the Beatles used to dress like greasers. The original lyrics were not “Doot doo doo doot” as we’ve all grown accustomed but were in fact “Ba tee ba tee pee.” I for one am shocked, SHOCKED I say. It’s like my whole life has been a lie. Well, not my whole life, but like a tiny bit of it. The part that is confident in song lyrics.

Guess you can’t go home again. But seriously, I love this song. The Muppets kick so much ass.

(Editor’s note: Oh, Kyle, there is SO much more… “Mah Na Mah Na” has a rich and varied history far beyond that of which you are aware. Meet Piero Umiliani, and “Viva la Sauna Svedese” (yes, “Long Live the Swedish Sauna,” music accompanying said activity in a scene in the Mondo movie Sweden, Heaven and Hell), which you now know as… yeah)

No…That’s not true… THAT’S IMPOSSIBLE!!!
-Kanderson wishes his glasses would blink when he does. Follow him on TWITTER

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  1. Hello, I am the son in law of maestro Piero Umiliani, author of Mah Nà Mah Nà.
    I am the author of the official site of Piero and i posted here just to link the official international lyrics of the this immortal track:

    all the best, fa

  2. Lincoln says:

    Have you guys heard Kyle’s podcast?

  3. Galadriel says:

    Thank you for letting us see again the (1969) version I remember laughing uproariously to as a tiny child (gee, I guess that makes me A LOT older than you all… sigh). I recall seesawing between being freaked out by the creepy weird stranger getting out of control… and falling into fits of laughter as soon as he got embarrassed and began his “mana manas” again… and it’s STILL funny. The amazing thing about watching that version now is how LONG it is. Kids’ attention spans were way different then… but a repeated joke is still hilarious. Could “mana mana” now be the longest-running musical repeated joke EVER?!?

  4. jhwang says:

    This is one of my favorite alarm sounds. My kids love it. (FYI There are multiple variations at this link.)

  5. Ben says:

    I haven’t heard this song in years…and when i read this article i got it stuck in my head for hours now.

  6. vincent woodruff says:

    So, I may have missed an episode but do you ever return to Matt’s Amazing find of the book Moneyball? I saw the movie and I kept thinking how like D&D or fantasy sports the whole thing is.

  7. srgto says:

    I once drove from Tacoma WA to San Jose CA along the coast by my self in a very old car that wouldn’t go over 50 and had only an AM radio.
    I sang this song for at least 8 hrs straight.

  8. Jonathan Grubbs says:

    Don’t forget about this great (violent) short:

  9. Toni says:

    Absolutely have not been able to shake this song from my brain since seeing the movie! MIND BLOWN.

  10. Slate just did a great piece on the history of this song.

    “Mahna Mahna”
    How a ditty from a soft-core Italian movie became the Muppets’ catchiest tune.

  11. CXRengel says:

    I posted the sordid history of the song on my facebook page about a week ago.

  12. Bdoserror says:

    And then there’s the cover of the song by Skin:

    It’s more true to the later lyrics, plus it rocks.