Muppet Mondays: The Rainbow Connection — Under Its Spell

Just like many of you, I was glued to almost all electronic devices this weekend following the D23 Expo tweets. Friday was like many of the Fridays at work this summer – so quiet. I was able to enjoy the Disney Legends ceremony from a distance. This was probably better – I would have been a blubbering idiot between the “princesses” harmonizing together, and what inspired this week’s Muppet Monday – Kermit and Rowlf teaming up to sing “The Rainbow Connection” in tribute to Jim Henson.

I have not been able to get enough of this video. In fact, I have had the song stuck in my head the entire weekend. Watching Kermit strum his banjo and Rowlf accompany on the piano was certainly a highlight for all the D23 Expo coverage. (It also made me forget for a few minutes why exactly it took them so long to bestow this honor on Jim in the first place. But I guess that’s a rant for another day…)

It also beats the Kenny Loggins version I have on my iPod.

So I thought it would be fitting to talk about the history of this particular song. “The Rainbow Connection” first hit the ears of the public as part of The Muppet Movie, the first full-length movie starring the Muppets. Premiering in 1979, this song is 32 years old. How many songs of today can you imagine hearing, remembering, and still liking thirty years from now? Not many, I would bet.

Just as history keeps telling us – the best things happen in twos. Jim Henson and Frank Oz. Howard Ashman and Alan Menken. Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris. “The Rainbow Connection” was written by two men who frequently partnered up for projects. Paul Williams and Kenny Ascher. Separately, Paul Williams wrote The Carpenter’s “We’ve Only Just Begun” (among others) and Ascher arranged music for many including John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

The song was later nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe. It failed to win either. On the bright side, the American Film Institute did name it the 74th greatest song in a film of all time.

…and it’s not surprising. It’s a beautiful song even when sung by a dog and a frog. Or by Jason Mraz. (Although I prefer a dog and a frog.) It’s about this belief we all have that we are meant to do something, and be someone and we will keep looking and searching until forever to find those things. For the same reason we listen to Jiminy when he tells us to wish upon a star, or Hercules continues to go the distance even when his journey seems impossible. (Or why the Wishes fireworks show makes me feel like I could be the most powerful gal in the world.)

Even before its connection with Disney, the Muppets managed to create an anthem that fits right in with the ideals of Walt. Keep on dreaming, keep on believing. Jim was exactly the same way. Even though it’s tough to find sometimes, that is what we all have in common – no matter our age, ethnicity, where we live, what we do for a living – there is that little piece inside of us that hopes and dreams and believes in all the wonders that life has in store for us.

I guess this is why the Kermit and Rowlf duet on Friday touched me so much. The playful way they sang together, the sing-along (with the adorable bouncing Bunsen head) – it was a way to bring people together.

Video from Inside the Magic. Take my advice & subscribe to Ricky’s Inside the Magic Podcast right now!

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Be sure to also check out Dap’s Magic for their own Muppet Monday!

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A book publicist who loves writing about Disney and books, and sometimes Disney books.

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