The Muppets have got a good chance of winning their first Oscar this year with Man Or Muppet being one of two songs nominated for Best Original Song, but that accolade should have come 32 years ago when The Rainbow Connection was pipped to the award by It Goes Like It Goes (no, me neither) from Norma Rae (no, me neither).
The Rainbow Connection (which gets reprised in the new The Muppets film) comes from their first cinematic outing, 1979’s The Muppet Movie. For me (I’ve not seen the new one as it hasn’t been released over here yet), it’s their best film, throwing a wonderfully ramshackle story around the characters and letting them generally cause chaos without being bogged down by the celebrity cameos. And it starts with my favourite song from any film ever.
The film starts off with The Rainbow Connection, being sung by Kermit The Frog in a Florida swamp, and when an agent overhears it, he’s persuaded to start a journey to Hollywood to find fame and fortune. What I love about the song is its simplicity. So many Muppets movie songs throw everything at the microphone and screen, and that works great, but this is just a frog on a log with a banjo.
Jim Henson’s vocal performance is fantastic, showing how ‘character performances’ can be underrated at times in songs. He manages to capture the wonderfully wistful nature of the lyrics to Paul Williams and Kenneth Ascher’s song and does it so well that the many cover versions by ‘proper’ singers don’t even come close to matching the original.
But it’s the simple and lovely lyrics that make it magical for me. We’re all hoping that, some day, we’ll find that Rainbow Connection, and anyone who thinks rainbows have nothing to hide must live quite a sad life. Me and Kermit, we’ll keep dreaming…