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Scene from The Muppet Movie
|Song by Kermit the Frog (Jim Henson)|
|from the album The Muppet Movie: Original Soundtrack Recording|
"Rainbow Connection" is a song from the 1979 film The Muppet Movie, with music and lyrics written by Paul Williams and Kenneth Ascher. The song was performed by Kermit the Frog (Jim Henson) in the film. "Rainbow Connection" reached No. 25 on the Billboard Hot 100 in November 1979, with the song remaining in the Top 40 for seven weeks total. Williams and Ascher received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song at the 52nd Academy Awards.
Williams and Ascher, who had previously collaborated on several songs for the 1976 film A Star Is Born, were tasked with writing the songs for The Muppet Movie. For the song that became "Rainbow Connection", Jim Henson told them that the opening scene should feature Kermit the Frog by himself, singing and playing the banjo. Williams and Ascher wrote most of the song fairly quickly at Williams' house, but got stuck trying to think of appropriate words for the part in the chorus that eventually became the phrase "the rainbow connection"; they were looking for a way to tie in the chorus to the song's theme of rainbows. As they sat down for dinner with Williams' then-wife, Kate Clinton, they explained to her their predicament of looking for a phrase that would provide "a rainbow connection", then realized, in the course of explaining the problem to her, that the phrase "the rainbow connection" would itself be a good fit.
Williams has said that his favorite lyrics in the song are "Who said that every wish/ Would be heard and answered/ When wished on the morning star?/ Somebody thought of that/ And someone believed it/ Look what it's done so far", because they imply that "there's power in your thoughts".
Critical reception and awards
Allmusic described "Rainbow Connection" as an "unlikely radio hit ... which Kermit the Frog sings with all the dreamy wistfulness of a short, green Judy Garland" and went on to add that "'Rainbow Connection' serves the same purpose in The Muppet Movie that 'Over the Rainbow' served in The Wizard of Oz, with nearly equal effectiveness: an opening establishment of the characters' driving urge for something more in life." Others have similarly referred to "Rainbow Connection" as the film's "I Want" song.
Ascher and Williams received Oscar nominations at the 52nd Academy Awards for both the score of The Muppet Movie and for "Rainbow Connection", which was nominated for Best Original Song. The song lost to "It Goes Like It Goes" from Norma Rae, a win that some critics decried.
Legacy and other Muppet renditions
The song's name has been used by a number of charitable organizations wishing to evoke its message, including a children's charity similar to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, a summer camp for seriously ill children, and a horseriding camp for people with disabilities. The name's influence can also be seen from business names to artificial Christmas tree products.
Kermit the Frog reprised the song on The Muppet Show in 1980 as a duet with Debbie Harry when she was a guest star. Jeff Moss and Ralph Burns also quoted the song's intro as the intro to the instrumental, "carriage ride" rendition of "Together Again" that segued into the Muppet Babies song sequence, "I'm Gonna Always Love You" in The Muppets Take Manhattan. The song is also reprised by a large group of Muppets as the closing number in the 1985 special The Muppets: A Celebration of 30 Years. Kermit also reprises the song in the 2011 film The Muppets, this time as a duet with Miss Piggy that leads into the entire Muppet group singing together. A shorter version of the song performed by tribute band "The Moopets" is also used in the film. The iTunes release of The Muppets soundtrack includes a new version of the song as an exclusive bonus track, recorded by Steve Whitmire, the then-current performer of Kermit. The song was also reprised in the TV series The Muppets, in the 2015 episode "Pig's in a Blackout".
The following artists have also covered the song:
|Judy Collins||1980||album Running for My Life|
|Mary O'Hara||1980||album The Scent of the Roses|
|The Brothers Cazimero||1980||album Waikiki, My Castle by the Sea (sung primarily in Hawaiian)|
|Lea Salonga||1981||album Small Voice|
|The Carpenters||1981||2004 album As Time Goes By; an outtake from the 1981 album Made in America|
|Kenny Loggins||1994||album Return to Pooh Corner|
|Less Than Jake||1997||EP Muppets|
|Me First and the Gimme Gimmes||1999||album Me First and the Gimme Gimmes Are a Drag|
|Willie Nelson||2001||album Rainbow Connection|
|Sarah McLachlan||2002||album For the Kids|
|Peter Cincotti||2003||album Peter Cincotti|
|Jason Mraz||2004||album For the Kids Too!|
|The Dixie Chicks||2004||album Mary Had a Little Amp|
|Jane Monheit||2009||album The Lovers, The Dreamers And Me|
|Weezer and Hayley Williams||2011||album Muppets: The Green Album|
|Jim Brickman||2012||album Piano Lullabies|
|Yale Whiffenpoofs||2013||released as "Rainbow Connection (Glee Cast Version) – Single" and credited as the Glee Cast|
|Zee Avi||2014||album Nightlight|
|Gwen Stefani||2015||album We Love Disney|
|Todd Smith||2016||album Bellissimo!, as "El-Creepo!"|
|Sleeping at Last||2016||album Covers, Vol. 2|
|Julian Velard||2017||album Fancy Words for Failure|
|Lisa Loeb||2017||album Lullaby Girl|
|Maddie Poppe||2018||American Idol audition (solo) and finale performance (duet with Kermit the Frog)|
|Kacey Musgraves and Willie Nelson||2019||Performance on 53rd Annual Country Music Association Awards|
- "Watch Muppets Sing 'Rainbow Connection' at Hollywood Bowl Concert". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2017-11-27.
- "CASEY KASEM AMERICAN TOP 40 - 10/11/79 (and see also 102779.html, 110379.html, 111079.html, 111779.html, 112479.html, 120179.html, on the same site)". www.oldradioshows.com. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
- Kiefer, Halle. "Ryan Murphy Is Still Haunted by The Muppet Movie's Best Song Oscar Loss". Vulture. Retrieved 2017-11-27.
- Paul Williams interview, National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Oral History Program, June 12, 2013
- Cater, Darryl. "Muppet Movie Original Soundtrack Review". Allmusic. Retrieved 9 May 2007.
- Holmes, Linda (July 25, 2019). "Rainbows, Frogs, Dogs And 'The Muppet Movie' Soundtrack At 40". NPR.org.
- Tom Shales. "Kramer vs. Everybody," The Washington Post (DC), April 15, 1980, page B1: "The already forgotten ballad 'It Goes Like It Goes,' from 'Norma Rae,' won the Oscar as best song over competitions that included 'The Rainbow Connection' ..."
- Rich Copley. "'The 75th annual Academy Awards' – trophy date on your night with unpredictable Oscar. Will he be a dream—or a dud?", Lexington Herald-Leader (KY), March 21, 2003, Weekender section, page 18: "Sometimes, old baldy leaves us scratching our skulls: ... the 1979 Oscar for best original song goes to It Goes Like It Goes from Norma Rae instead of Rainbow Connection from The Muppet Movie ..."
- "Rainbow Wish Connection". Rainbow Wish Connection. 2010-09-11. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
- "RC Camp". RC Camp. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
- Carlisle Graphics - Jeff Carlisle - www.carlislegraphics.com (2012-11-03). "The Rainbow Connection.org". The Rainbow Connection.org. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
- "The Rainbow Connection - Suspenders & Ties". Archived from the original on 2005-03-12. Retrieved 5 November 2013.
- "The Rainbow Connection Arch". Treetopia.com. Archived from the original on 2012-03-15. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
- "The Top Movie Songs of All Time" (PDF). 2004. Retrieved 5 November 2013.
- "CNN, 1996". CNN.com. 1996-03-27. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
- "Fancy Words For Failure, by Julian Velard". Julian Velard. Retrieved 2017-07-13.
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