The Impossible Dream (The Quest)
"The Impossible Dream (The Quest)" is a popular song composed by Mitch Leigh, with lyrics written by Joe Darion. The song is the most popular song from the 1965 Broadway musical Man of La Mancha and is also featured in the 1972 film of the same name starring Peter O'Toole.
The song is sung all the way through once in the musical by Don Quixote as he stands vigil over his armor, in response to Aldonza (Dulcinea)'s question about what he means by "following the quest". It is reprised partially three more times—the last by prisoners in a dungeon as Miguel de Cervantes and his manservant mount the drawbridge-like prison staircase to face trial by the Spanish Inquisition.
It was awarded the Contemporary Classics Award from the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame.
In popular culture
On the television show Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., in an episode entitled "The Show Must Go On," which aired November 3, 1967, Jim Nabors, as Pyle, sang a version of the song. In the episode, it is alluded that Pyle's audience might possibly include "the President," who, at the time, was Lyndon Johnson.
During Robert Kennedy's long shot campaign for the presidency in 1968 George McGovern introduced him before a South Dakota stump speech by quoting from The Impossible Dream. Afterwards Kennedy questioned whether McGovern thought it was impossible, McGovern said "No I don't think it's impossible. I just...wanted the audience to understand it's worth making the effort – whether you win or lose." Kennedy replied, "well, that's what I think."  It was actually Robert Kennedy's favourite song and Andy Williams who covered the song was a close friend. The song was also a favourite of younger brother Ted Kennedy and was performed by Brian Stokes Mitchell at his memorial service in 2009.
The song is spoofed by British comedian John Cleese as part of his December 1977 appearance on The Muppet Show. For the show's closing number, as the opening chords of The Impossible Dream play in the background, Kermit the Frog introduces a rather bewildered Cleese – who immediately demands to speak with Kermit. Cleese then tells the frog that he refuses to sing old show tunes. Kermit apologizes and a few seconds later, the curtain reopens, this time with Cleese dressed as a Viking, as Sweetums attempts to duet with him in Wagnerian opera. Cleese isn't thrilled with this either,so they try putting him in a Mexican maraca solo costume. When Cleese tells Kermit that "there's no way I'll do a song", the pigs and monsters he didn't want to work with are brought out on stage.
- JOHN CLEESE: You were supposed to be my host. How could you do this to me? Kermit – I am your guest!
- CAST: (singing to "Impossible Dream") This is your guest – To follow that star...
An episode of the 2nd season of the television series Quantum Leap, aired December 6, 1989, is entitled "To Catch a Falling Star". In this episode, Sam "leaps" into the body of an understudy to an alcoholic actor in order to prevent him taking a fatal fall during a performance of Man of La Mancha. Sam's "host" takes over for the actor, and at the end of the episode, sings The Impossible Dream. The alcoholic actor is played by John Collum, who alternated with Richard Kiley in the original stage run of Man of La Mancha.
An episode of the 8th Season of the television series Touched by an Angel, aired May 4, 2002, is entitled "The Impossible Dream". It was written by Brian Bird, directed by Peter H. Hunt and features Luther Vandross as Reggie Hunter, a janitor in his former high school with a great voice that gave up a singing career twenty-five years early. At the end of the episode, he sings The Impossible Dream in a concert to honor his Aunt Charlotte, a choral teacher, who is retiring.
In 2005, a two-minute-long television advertisement for Honda used the Andy Williams recording as a soundtrack. It was named "Television Advertisement of the Year" in the British Television Advertising Awards.
As a fitting tribute, the song was adopted as Wolverhampton Wanderers F.C. official football anthem tune in their quest for the English Premier League which helped them reach promotion on 18 April 2009.
The Pinky and the Brain episode "Mouse of la Mancha" parodies the entire play affectionately, and Richard Stone's re-working of the song features heavily, re-titled "(To Scheme) The Improbable Scheme".
The song was also played during Sir Alex Ferguson's last home game at Old Trafford in 2013.
Recordings and live versions
- Richard Kiley (on the original Broadway cast album of Man of La Mancha)
- Ed Ames (on 2 known LPs More I Cannot Wish You 1966 RCA LSP-3636 (stereo)/LPM-3636 (mono) & The Best of Ed Ames 1969 RCA LSP-4184 (stereo))
- Sergio Franchi sang it on the September 24, 1966 broadcast of The Hollywood Palace. He also recorded it on his 1968 RCA Victor album Wine and Song.
- Roy Hamilton (1966)
- Jack Jones (with altered lyrics); this version hit number thirty-five the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and went to number one on the U.S. adult contemporary chart in 1966 
- Jim Nabors (3 Times): 1) On an album entitled Love Me With All Your Heart (1966); 2) On a 1972 studio cast album of Man of La Mancha; and 3) On the Gomer Pyle TV show
- Frank Sinatra (on his 1966 album That's Life)
- The Imperials (on the album New Dimensions (1968))
- The Temptations (on their 1967 album The Temptations in a Mellow Mood)
- The Temptations (on their 1968 album The Temptations Live at the Copa)
- Scott Walker (on his TV series in 1969 and on his album Scott: Scott Walker Sings Songs from his TV Series)
- Ray Conniff (1968)
- The Smothers Brothers (on their 1968 album Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour)
- Andy Williams (on the album Honey (1968); the compilation album The Impossible Dream (1971); also lip-synched by actor Simon Paisley Day on the Honda advert Impossible Dream (2005))
- Glen Campbell (on a Capitol 45 RPM single, Hey Little One album, 20 Greatest Hits, Live (1969))
- Johnny Mathis (1969)
- Tom Jones, album Tom (1970)
- Nora Aunor recorded the song in 1971 for her album Nora Today, it became one of the best selling singles in the Philippines at that time.
- Frida Boccara (on her album Place des Arts `71 Live)
- Maynard Ferguson (instrumental version on his album The Ballad Style of Maynard Ferguson (1972))
- Simon Gilbert (provided the singing voice for Peter O'Toole in the 1972 film adaptation of the play, and on the soundtrack album)
- Elvis Presley (on his album Elvis as Recorded at Madison Square Garden, recorded June 10, 1972)
- Alex Harvey (title track of the 1974 SAHB album The Impossible Dream
- Ken Boothe (on his album Everything I Own (1974))
- Donna Summer (as the encore during her tours from 1987 to 1990)
- Scott Bakula (on Quantum Leap (season 2 episode "Catch A Falling Star", 1989) & in 1993 on the TV Series soundtrack)
- Anthony Warlow (on his 1990 album Centre Stage)
- Jon Cypher (on the TV show Major Dad, season 2 episode 19 (February 1991))
- Carter USM (on their 1992 album 1992 – The Love Album)
- George Foreman Teaser on TV prior to him regaining the heavy-weight boxing title 20 years after he lost it to Muhammad Ali (NBC 1994)
- Tevin Campbell (on Rhythm Of The Games 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games Album by LaFace Records)
- Plácido Domingo (on the 1996 studio cast recording of Man of la Mancha; also with Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazón at the Berlin Concert: Live from the Waldbühne (2006), but not included on the DVD issued by Deutsche Grammophon)
- Lesley Garrett (on her album Lesley Garrett 1998)
- Jane McDonald (on her album Inspiration 2000)
- Ron Raines (on the cast recording of the 2000 Covent Garden revival of Man of la Mancha)
- Brian Stokes Mitchell (on the cast album of the 2002 revival of Man of La Mancha, also at the memorial service of Senator Edward M. Kennedy)
- Linda Eder (from Broadway, My Way (2003))
- Gé Korsten (on his 2004 CD The Heart & Soul)
- Andy Abraham (on his 2006 debut album The Impossible Dream)
- Johnny Hallyday sang it in French during his 2006 French tour.
- Sarah Connor (on her 2007 album Soulicious)
- Donald Braswell II in the 2008 season of America's Got Talent
- The Molineux Faithful (when Wolverhampton Wanderers were promoted to the Premier League in the 2008/2009 season
- The Mighty Mighty Bosstones (recorded for the 2009 7" Impossible Dream)
- Il Divo (as their encore number during their 2009 World Tour)
- Mario Frangoulis in 2009 at the Vancouver Peace Summit, Canada
- Marco T (album Marco On Stage 2009)
- Mark Vincent (on his album My Dream, Mio Visione 2009)
- Darius Campbell and Rolando in the 2010 final of ITV's Popstar to Operastar
- Ramin Karimloo (on his 2012 UK tour promoting his album Ramin)
- Alfio (on his album Classic Rewinds)
- Florence Ballard (on her Album The Supreme Florence Ballard)
- Shirley Bassey
- Maria Bethânia (Brazilian version Sonho Impossível)
- Alfie Boe and Matt Lucas as a duet on Boe's album Bring Him Home
- Susan Boyle
- Jacques Brel (in French on the French cast album L'Homme de la Mancha)
- Cher (on the album Backstage)
- Kika Edgar (the Spanish version "el sueño imposible" in her album Broadway)
- Jackie Evancho (at age 11)
- Roberta Flack
- Connie Francis
- Aretha Franklin (Rosa Parks Memorial)
- Robert Goulet (on the album collection Robert Goulet on Broadway)
- Jennifer Hudson at the NAACP Image Awards
- Christopher Lee (on his album Revelation)
- The Lettermen
- Richard & Adam (played on the talent show called "Britain's got talent")
- Joe Longthorne
- Gordon MacRae
- Lena Martell (on her album One Day at a Time – The Ultimate Collection)
- Mireille Mathieu (in French on television)
- Keith Michell (on the 2-LP London cast album of the show)
- Matt Monro
- Jaime Morey
- The Mormon Tabernacle Choir
- Corey Benjamin Moss (Junior Players – Great Neck North)
- Eddie Murphy
- Merrill Osmond
- Georg Ots (Estonia Theatre production in Estonian language) Video on YouTube
- The Republic Tigers on the iTunes tribute album, His Way, Our Way
- Rhydian Roberts
- Diana Ross and the Supremes
- Bryn Terfel
- Roy Tugbang
- Ronan Tynan
- Luther Vandross
- Rolando Villazón
- The Vogues (on their album Turn Around, Look At Me)
- Shani Wallis (on her album As Long As He Needs Me Kapp KS-3573)
- Roger Whittaker
- Colm Wilkinson (on his album Stage Heroes)
- "Composer Mitch Leigh Endows Chair in Jazz at Yale", opa.yale.edu, September 12, 2006
- ""Impossible Dream" remembered on Opening Day". 9 April 2007. Retrieved 2008-08-18.
- Schlesinger, Arthur M. (1978;1990). Robert Kennedy And His Times. Ballantyne Books
- "Ted Kennedy's Wake: Farewell to 'Captain Ahab', Time Magazine". Time.com. 2009-08-29. Retrieved 2011-05-30.
- "John Cleese appearance on the Muppet Show, as cited on Muppet Central Web site". muppetcentral.com. Retrieved 2008-12-20.
- Griffith, Jeremy (2011). Freedom Book 1. p. 98. ISBN 978-1-74129-011-0.
- Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–2001. Record Research. p. 131.