This year marks the 40th-anniversary of The Muppets first big screen adventure, The Muppet Movie. Probably the single most popular part of the classic film, or possibly anything the Muppets have ever done, is its opening, when Kermit the Frog sings "Rainbow Connection" a song that would become an iconic part of Muppet history.
Seeing Kermit on that log in the swamp (with Jim Henson hiding behind it submerged in water), it was as if the little puppet was truly alive and singing for all of us. It's an absolutely magical scene. Adding to the magic, is the discovery that not only did Kermit perform the song in the movie, he also recorded the song in the studio himself...with Jim Henson's help, of course.
A new interview with Paul Williams, the writer of "Rainbow Connection." reveals that when the song was being recorded in the studio, Jim Henson started by simply performing the song himself in Kermit's voice. However, there was a feeling that something was missing. Williams tells Vanity Fair that somebody, he doesn't recall who, suggested that Kermit should give the song a try. Henson then took the Kermit the Frog puppet into the recording booth with him and performed the song with the world's most famous piece of green felt. According to Williams...
Kermit sang it brilliantly.
One can only imagine what this looked like to the people working on recording the song. Kermit the Frog himself, with Jim Henson standing behind him, really did sing "Rainbow Connection." Clearly, this was the thing that was missing. The recording would then be perfect, and would go on to inspire millions in The Muppet Movie.
The song has become a classic in its own right. The song has been covered by everybody from Willie Nelson to Sarah McLachlan to Gwen Stefani. However, there's really nothing quite like the original version.
The Muppet Movie would go on to be released in 1979, in what was the heyday of the Muppets. The Muppet Show was already a hit on television and the movie would go on to gross $65 million. Adjusted for inflation, it's still the highest grossing Muppet film ever made.
The word is that a new Muppets series is being planned for the Disney+ streaming service, though Disney, the owners of the Muppets since 2004, has yet to confirm the project.
June 22 marks the 40th-anniversary of the release of The Muppet Movie. The film will see a special theatrical re-release on July 25 and July 30 from Fathom Events.