The Impossible Dream (The Quest)

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"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.[1]

Notable renditions[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

During Robert F. Kennedy's long shot campaign for the presidency in 1968, Senator George McGovern introduced him before a South Dakota stump speech by quoting from The Impossible Dream. Afterwards Kennedy questioned McGovern whether he really thought it was impossible. McGovern replied, "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."[4] It was actually Robert Kennedy's favorite song, and Andy Williams, who recorded the song, was one of Kennedy's close friends.[4] The song was also a favorite of younger brother Ted Kennedy and was performed by Brian Stokes Mitchell at his memorial service in 2009.[5]

In politics[edit]

Song's lyrics on a memorial to Evelio Javier

The song was a favorite of Philippine hero Evelio Javier, the assassinated governor of the province of Antique in the Philippines and the song has become a symbol of his sacrifice for democracy. Javier was shot and killed in the plaza of San Jose, Antique during the counting following the 1986 Snap Elections, an act which contributed to the peaceful overthrow of Ferdinand Marcos by Cory Aquino in the People Power Revolution. Every year, Javier is remembered on Evelio Javier Day and the song is featured. The song's lyrics are written in brass on a monument in the plaza where he was shot.

See also[edit]

List of number-one adult contemporary singles of 1966 (U.S.)


  1. ^ "Composer Mitch Leigh Endows Chair in Jazz at Yale",, September 12, 2006
  2. ^
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–2001. Record Research. p. 131. 
  4. ^ a b Schlesinger, Arthur M. (1978;1990). Robert Kennedy And His Times. Ballantyne Books
  5. ^ "Ted Kennedy's Wake: Farewell to 'Captain Ahab', Time Magazine". 2009-08-29. Retrieved 2011-05-30. 

External links[edit]