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…