By the time Paul Williams and Kenny Ascher wrote “Rainbow Connection” for The Muppet Movie, I was well beyond childhood and missed the whole phenomenon. I might never have become a fan of this special song had my partner’s daughter not given birth to a miracle baby.
We traveled from Canada to Australia to meet the little one so had the chance to witness the bedtime ritual her two mothers created to send baby Sunday off to sleep. Books were part of that from the beginning. So were songs. One of the songs was “Rainbow Connection”. I got a lump in my throat every time I heard them sing it, recognizing in the poignant lyrics the spiritual quest we are all on.
The song has been a perennial favourite since 1979 and has been covered by Sarah MacLachlan, Judy Collins, Willie Nelson, The Dixie Chicks and a host of other artists. Lyrics such as these touch on the magic and mystery of all our lives:
What’s so amazing that keeps us stargazing?
And what do we think we might see?
Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection,
The lovers, the dreamers and me.
Williams and Ascher wanted something special from the song. In the booklet for the Music, Mayhem and More! CD, Williams described their process:
When we started working on the film, Kenny and I and Jim and Jerry Juhl all agreed that we had to establish Kermit’s soul from the very beginning. And to do that, he has to ponder some big questions. Kenny and I began to write this song—the song addresses that inner voice that tells Kermit he can try to do these big things.
That is the inner voice calling to all of us, reminding us we are unique, that no one quite like us has ever lived. That inner voice calls us to pay attention to who we are, to honour and share the gifts that are ours. The quest for the rainbow connection is lifelong. Maybe we only catch glimpses of it, but the search for expressions of our most authentic selves is worth whatever steps we have to take.
So go ahead. Follow your own rainbow. At its end is the rainbow connection for all “the lovers, the dreamers and me.”
This post goes live on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. It seems a fitting tribute. I remember that day vividly, the sense that all the colour had suddenly gone out of the world. Along with millions of others, I was devastated. But life is made up of all our moments, tragic or life-enhancing. I found my rainbow connection, lost it, found it again – repeatedly, as do we all. May you all find the rainbow connections in your lives.