Rainbow Connection by Kermit (Atlantic, 1979)

Damn it, Jim Henson! What the hell’s the matter with you? Damn you, you son-of-a-bitch! I came to see a nice funny Muppets movie and 4 minutes in, you have me crying. I’ve been waiting for this all Summer. I’ve been so jacked up to see all the Muppets on screen for 1 1/2 straight hours. Now I’m here in a dark theater with my mom sitting next to me asking me if I want to go home. Isn’t it enough I have Charles Schultz sucking me in every year, jerking my tear ducts with every holiday Peanuts bawlfest and now I have to endure Kermit picking a banjo serenading himself on a log in the swamp with a song about rainbows? Jim Henson, you’re a bastard.

That was, more or less, my thought process some time during the Summer of 1979 in a movie theatre in West Babylon, NY four minutes into The Muppet Movie. If you don’t know or haven’t seen it, the movie opens simple enough with an aerial view of a swamp, maybe the Everglades in Florida who knows. The camera pans in as the 9-note banjo lick plays over and over again. Eventually we get up close and see Kermit singing the Rainbow Connection. I don’t what it was about that scene or that song that made my tear up. It’s kinda funny to think it had that effect on me as I listen to it now. But it did. And I’m sure I enjoyed the rest of that movie. But I couldn’t tell you about any other scene except the opening.

Obviously the producers thought it had enough appeal (or the power to make kids weep) to release it as a 45. Curiously the song only peaked at #25, even though the soundtrack went Gold. Jim Henson bookended the 70s with this hit and Rubber Duckie sung as Ernie, which hit the Top 20 in 1970, peaking at #16. He might be the only person to have 2 Top 40 hits under two different pseudonyms, with neither being his own name.

If this song was part of your childhood, give it a listen and fade back to those days. Just keep some Kleenex nearby…

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3 Comments

  1. Chris

     /  March 23, 2012

    I was 7 when I first saw the movie in the theater, and still remember seeing that opening on the screen. It’s a fantastic song…and a version by The Carpenters eventually appeared later. Funny thing, though: Karen didn’t like her performance and never re-recorded it, so the version didn’t get released until after her death. She did a great job on it. Not exactly Kermit-like, but it showed once again why her voice was one of the best of her generation.

    Reply
  2. Never heard Karen’s version, so I must seek that out. Thanks for the tip.

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  3. Of course I loved the movie, and the soundtrack’s great, reminding me of key scenes in the movie. Except for that lousy instrumental version of “Never Before, Never Again”. I’ll be darned if I can find the soundtrack on cd, though. I originally had it on 8-track, and more recently I picked up a copy on vinyl record to record it onto my computer.

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