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I've heard them calling my name.
December 3, 2008 8:26 AM   Subscribe

"Some day we'll find it, the rainbow connection, the lovers, the dreamers, and me." In 1979, Paul Williams and Kenneth Ascher composed "The Rainbow Connection" [midi] which served as a radio hit and song for the The Muppet Movie. It was nominated for an Academy Award and reviewed in the allmusic guide as a song in which "Kermit the Frog sings with all the dreamy wistfulness of a short green Judy Garland." Enclosed are some performances of it I hope you enjoy.

Performed by...

Kermit the Frog - Original Movie
Debbie Harry on the Muppet Show
The Dixie Chicks
Willie Nelson
Jason Mraz
Sarah McLachlan
Kenny Loggins
Me First and the Gimme Gimmes
Dresden Dolls - Live
Jamie Leonhart
John Michael Higgins in an acapella version
Heartland Men's Chorus

I tried to cross a span here, but if I had to pick favorites you might be surprised with what Jamie Leonhart and Kenneth Ascher later did (with the cast of The Break-Up -- John Micahel Higgins et al)
posted by cavalier (61 comments total) 58 users marked this as a favorite

 
Dresden Dolls, eh? You know Kermit had a big belly too.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:33 AM on December 3, 2008


Great post!

But you missed the sweetest, bestest non-amphibian version of all!!!

And no I'm not saying who. You click!
posted by Senor Cardgage at 8:34 AM on December 3, 2008


One of the stranger recordings Matthew Bower has released - and that's really saying something - prominently featured this.

In fact, the song is called "Rainbow Connection". It's on the "Splat!" CDR, and is still available at the wonderful Mutant Sounds blog.
posted by stinkycheese at 8:44 AM on December 3, 2008


Oh, you forgot my favorite version - an on-the-prowl Andy Bernard (Ed Helms) singing it, in a sexy high falsetto voice, accompanied by the banjo, in pig latin.
posted by peachfuzz at 8:47 AM on December 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


You know, that song is cheesy and sappy - but I really love it like a sweet childhood remembrance of those long beautiful spring days with nothing to do but watch clouds going by.
posted by mightshould at 8:51 AM on December 3, 2008


Ahh memories. My 5th grade class sang it at our school music fair and it was by far the song we enjoyed the most. Thanks for the post!
posted by amyms at 8:55 AM on December 3, 2008


Cheesy and sappy? No way -- it's a beautiful song. (Watch Willie's version if you're not sure.)
posted by grounded at 9:01 AM on December 3, 2008


Man, I love this song. Thanks for this.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:01 AM on December 3, 2008


The Muppet Movie was the first movie I remember seeing as a child, and my folks bought my sister and I the album to listen to. This song in particular has fond memories for me.

(and taught me never to sit in the front row seats of the movie theatre!)
posted by LN at 9:04 AM on December 3, 2008


It's a beautiful little song, but most of the cover versions approach it with too much preciousness. Jim Henson's quiet, simple reading is pitch-perfect, and it's telling that some of the most memorable versions are the ones that don't take it too seriously.
posted by EarBucket at 9:04 AM on December 3, 2008 [3 favorites]


What exactly is a 'rainbow connection'? And is it as fast as fiber?
posted by Jeremy at 9:11 AM on December 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


In addition to being the soundtrack to the epiphany style moment of my first lsd experience, this song also kept me up for two hours late last night trying to remember its name.

Oh Metafilter, you synchronous bastard.
posted by mannequito at 9:12 AM on December 3, 2008


Great post - I love this song.

When my siblings and I were little, my mom would sing us a sort of Islamicized version of this song (my fuzzy memory thinks this was from a bootleg Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam tape, but google fails me on this. she may have just made this up herself). She was an Italian convert to Islam - like hell she'd cut out singing and lyrical creativity. I vaguely recall Habenara sung around the house with some Allah est enfant de Bohème. We were hippy Muslims.
posted by raztaj at 9:18 AM on December 3, 2008


Also:

But you missed the sweetest, bestest non-amphibian version of all !!!

And no I'm not saying who. You click!


The fact that this didn't turn out to be a RickRoll gives me hope for humanity.
posted by mannequito at 9:19 AM on December 3, 2008 [3 favorites]


Stop making me miss Jim Henson more.
posted by Tehanu at 9:35 AM on December 3, 2008 [10 favorites]


A long, long time ago I caught a performance of this song on an NPR show by a singer who was possibly Brazilian or Spanish or similarly accented, and it brought tears to my eyes. Never was able to figure out who it was, never heard that version again. Every once in awhile I'll dig through iTunes and hope it gets posted, but that hasn't happened yet.

Thanks for this. It's one of my favorite songs.
posted by GamblingBlues at 9:38 AM on December 3, 2008


You forgot my favorite!

(Yeah, it's Justin Timberlake on SNL. I didn't expect to laugh either, but it's one of the funniest things they've done in recent years.)
posted by Vic Morrow's Personal Vietnam at 9:42 AM on December 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


The fact that this didn't turn out to be a RickRoll gives me hope for humanity.

Oh wow.
In the heady ernestness of this thread, I never thought that this might be seen as a Rick Roll.

My bad.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 9:46 AM on December 3, 2008


There aren't that many songs about rainbows. Kermit is a liar.
posted by unsupervised at 9:53 AM on December 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Unsurprising for a frog that neither loves nor dreams.
posted by unsupervised at 9:56 AM on December 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


I sing this song all the time to my little girls. Here's a "DADDY HINT" for you:

When you sing the part about "I've heard them calling my name" part-- sing your kid's name in a falsetto voice out of the side of your mouth. This never fails to crack my girls up.
posted by ColdChef at 9:57 AM on December 3, 2008 [6 favorites]


I have a theory that, really, only Kermit can sing this song; the part which bounces up and down an octave ("so we've been told and some choose to believe it") just sounds stilted when most people sing it, and perfectly natural coming out of Kermit's warble.
posted by Casuistry at 10:24 AM on December 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


> There aren't that many songs about rainbows. Kermit is a liar.

You shut your filthy word hole.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 10:28 AM on December 3, 2008


Debbie Harry is emoting too hard in her version.
posted by ColdChef at 10:32 AM on December 3, 2008


There are so few songs about rainbows they all had to sing the same one.
posted by unsupervised at 10:33 AM on December 3, 2008


When I got married, the priest based his homily on "The Rainbow Connection" because we used it in one of our engagement videos. It was kind of weird to hear a priest talk about Kermit the Frog at our wedding. But--good weird.
posted by ColdChef at 10:36 AM on December 3, 2008


Next month's MeFi Music Challenge: Songs about rainbows.
posted by ColdChef at 10:46 AM on December 3, 2008 [3 favorites]


As much as I love "The Rainbow Collection," my favorite song from The Muppet Movie is the Gonzo's song "I'm Going To Go Back There Someday." Apologies for lack of video link, but I'm blocked from YT at the moment. Have some lyrics. "There's not a word yet for old friends who've just met..." Just reading the damn thing makes me tear up.
posted by threeturtles at 10:54 AM on December 3, 2008 [5 favorites]


What? No Rainbow Disconnection from Sad Kermit? Thanks for tuning me into the other covers, cavalier.
posted by XcentricOrbit at 10:57 AM on December 3, 2008


Thanks yourself! Glad this was received well. I don't know why but I just had the strongest hummmm of this in my head this morning so I decided to get to internetwork. The Leonhart version really suprised me, while I felt I had to also pad out the warm syrup of Loggins and McLachlan to really provide a middle ground. Thanks for the other versions, y'all!

I miss Jim Henson much more than I do most any departed personality/entertainer. Not sure if it was just my age at being exposed to him or the heartfelt purity and just gosh darned goodness he and his company seemed to produce.

CC, thanks for the advice. I look forward to uhrmn... forcing the muppets on my upcoming little person.
posted by cavalier at 11:22 AM on December 3, 2008


Oh, and honestly, show of hands, who didn't find Paul Williams to be just the coolest iconic looking musican type in that movie? Don't shoot the Piano player, indeed!

Minor trivia, he currently serves on the board of ASCAP.

The Muppet Movie, really the whole movie, but especially this beginning and the ending song always send me to a wonderful place filled with tears and happiness.
posted by cavalier at 11:25 AM on December 3, 2008


Paul Williams was cooler as Swan
posted by Senor Cardgage at 11:29 AM on December 3, 2008


Have you been half asleep
And have you heard voices
I've heard them calling my name
Is this the sweet voice
That calls the young sailors
I think they're one and the same.


You and me both, Kermit. You and me both.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:32 AM on December 3, 2008


From John Hodgman's The Areas Of My Expertise:

This was a movie about puppets who go to Hollywood to become stars. As they travel, they frequently consult the script of the movie in order to know what to do next. When they reach Hollywood, they begin making a movie about the movie the viewer has just been watching. The puppets build plywood simulacra of props that, earlier in the film, were represented as real. Then the roof of the soundstage smashes in and a powerful rainbow shines down and obliterates everything, including a plywood imitation of the fake rainbow that had appeared in the first scene. The frog and bear and pig simulations panic as the fake/real and real/fake worlds nearly destroy each other. The puppets then look directly into the camera and instruct the viewer that "life's like a movie: write your own ending."

This was the only film in which the French literary critic Roland Barthes received a screenplay credit (he also did uncredited work on Corvette Summer).

posted by EarBucket at 11:49 AM on December 3, 2008 [15 favorites]


Before I went off to college, I made tapes of the records we owned that I just couldn't live without. The "Muppet Movie" soundtrack was one of them. I still sing "The Rainbow Connection" to babies when I'm trying to get them to go to sleep. Whether it works or not, it makes me feel better. Thanks for this post.
posted by epj at 12:09 PM on December 3, 2008


I cannot ever hear this song without thinking of the Dragon*Con TV interstitial from a few years back. It'll change the way you think of it...
posted by Hamusutaa at 1:19 PM on December 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hamustaa. Oh wow.
posted by cavalier at 1:21 PM on December 3, 2008


Paul William's son went to boarding school with my ex, and when they graduated, Paul and his son sang Rainbow Connection at the graduation ceremony. I always thought that would have been cool to have at graduation instead of Pomp and Circumstance.
posted by schyler523 at 2:09 PM on December 3, 2008


MUPPET NEWS FLASH: It's great to see this FPP, because Paul Williams just wrote four new songs for the upcoming brand new Muppets Christmas TV movie that's going to be airing in just two weeks -- Wednesday, December 17th at 8 PM on NBC! It's called "A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa", starring the Muppets, of course -- plus Nathan Lane, Uma Thurman, Jane Krakowski, Jesse L. Martin, Tony Sirico, Steve Schirripa, and Whoopi Goldberg and a few other humans you might recognize.

Here's a video preview of one of the songs from the special on NBC.com (USA only, sorry) -- twenty-some-odd singing and dancing Muppets (and Jesse L. Martin and Mayor Mike Bloomberg) at a New York City post office! The other three songs are wonderful, too -- Gonzo and Fozzie have one that is simply amazing.

If you have a Facebook account, here's the invite for the premiere! Please "attend" and then use the link in the top righthand corner to invite your friends to attend too. It's open to everyone.

Also, Paul Williams himself shows up in the special in a small (hah) role as one of Santa's elves. Which is funny because he's, y'know, really short.

Also, the movie? Is really, really good. If you are or ever have been a Muppets fan, you should watch this.

/lifelong Muppets fan and proud wife of one of the writers of the movie -- who is himself also a MeFite
posted by Asparagirl at 7:45 PM on December 3, 2008 [18 favorites]


"A frog and a bear seeing America!" - Movin' Right Along
posted by ageispolis at 7:46 PM on December 3, 2008


Paul Williams is quite possibly the most impressively realistic Muppet the Creature Shop ever created.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:04 AM on December 4, 2008 [8 favorites]


You guys!
posted by grubi at 5:29 AM on December 4, 2008


/lifelong Muppets fan and proud wife of one of the writers of the movie -- who is himself also a MeFite

Wait wait wait. Someone on MetaFilter writes for the Muppets?! You know...not a lot of things make me starstruck. I was excited when I saw Woz here, and even reading John Hodgeman's posts are pretty cool. But this is the first time I actually got short of breath and felt my heart speed up.

What's Kermit like in real life?
posted by ColdChef at 7:39 AM on December 4, 2008 [7 favorites]



/lifelong Muppets fan and proud wife of one of the writers of the movie -- who is himself also a MeFite

I'd like the be amongst the first people to go "Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!" and make with the Kermit arms.
posted by Jofus at 7:49 AM on December 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


I found our MeFite!
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:04 AM on December 4, 2008


YOU MUST GET ME A JOB WRITING FOR THE MUPPETS RIGHT NOW.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:16 AM on December 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm not a big fan of Paul Williams' work generally--I find it cloying--and "Rainbows have nothing to hide" may be the single stupidest lyric ever. But, you know, if a dying child wanted to hear someone sing "The Rainbow Connection", I'd do it.

Then I'd smoke some crack and bang a hooker, because I'd earned it.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:07 AM on December 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


In lieu of a father/daughter dance (because he doesn't or won't dance), my dad sang this song to me at my wedding reception. You could hear the hum of half the room singing along quietly.

When, oh when will there be another Muppet film? It's been years and years since Muppets From Space!
posted by cereselle at 11:13 AM on December 4, 2008


This post is MADE of AWESOME.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 11:20 AM on December 4, 2008


What's Kermit like in real life?

Short. Surprisingly.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:38 PM on December 4, 2008


I've always felt a bit sorry for Paul Williams. A very talented guy who really wanted to make it big as a performer. But he's got an unusual voice, and he's a bit goofy looking, and the charisma just isn't there. If he was an actor he'd be a character actor, even though he wants to be a leading man.

So he's written a lot of songs that other performers have made famous. That must be very frustrating, in some ways.
posted by Class Goat at 1:40 PM on December 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Paul Williams is quite possibly the most impressively realistic Muppet the Creature Shop ever created.

Think so?
posted by Class Goat at 1:43 PM on December 4, 2008


Just how many songs are there about rainbows? More to the point, how many songs with "rainbow" in the title? Looking around (well, Googling around) I found a site with 28 of them.

Of course, it doesn't list the subject song, nor does it answer the question.
posted by Man with Lantern at 1:50 PM on December 4, 2008


An aside concerning Williams, it's worth looking out for that one Dexter's Laboratory episode in which he basically voice acts a character that represents himself as Dexter's music teacher. Catchy earworm in that one.
posted by JHarris at 3:06 PM on December 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


I was stalked to the song "Rainbow Connection" when I was in undergrad.

Yeah. I love The Muppets, but even now, two decades later, I still sort of feel like serving Kermit with a restraining order whenever I hear him sing.

Shudder.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 6:40 PM on December 6, 2008


I had this soundtrack, and I must have worn out the record from playing it so many times.

Class Goat: If he was an actor he'd be a character actor

"I'd like to kick his ass just once."
posted by evilcolonel at 6:57 PM on December 6, 2008


A singalong version from Little Gray Books #4 (Hodgman & Coulton are involved).

If you can, get the full podcast & go to the fifteen minute mark: this happened without warning at a literary event, & the buildup to the moment that everyone got it was really cool.
posted by Pronoiac at 9:50 PM on December 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Also, the movie? Is really, really good. If you are or ever have been a Muppets fan, you should watch this.

I caught it last night, and laughed an awful lot. I can't help but love Pepe the Prawn.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:40 AM on December 18, 2008


Yes. Pepe the Prawn is pretty much my new favorite muppet. He shines in Muppets from Space.
posted by cavalier at 5:07 PM on December 20, 2008


Also, the movie? Is really, really good. If you are or ever have been a Muppets fan, you should watch this.

My family was finally gathered in the same place at the same time for more than an hour (thanks, 13 hours of snow!), so we at last got to watch this. I wanted to say thanks and well done.

I can remember watching the premiere of The Muppet Show and John Denver and the Muppets were a major part of my Christmases growing up. I was happy to find this special captured the spirit of the Muppets so well. My daughter, who is watching the original Muppet Show episodes one per week, also enjoyed it a lot.

Aside from the overall story, all the little touches were there that made you aware that this was put together by people who really get what the Muppets are all about. Thanks for doing it right and adding to my pleasant memories of Muppets at Christmas.
posted by mikepop at 6:33 PM on December 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


First song I learned on the piano! :)
posted by miss lynnster at 7:22 PM on January 2, 2009


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