It begins so simply, as all immortal songs do: a hopeful melody, plucked on a banjo by the versatile flippers of a frog. “Why are there so many songs about rainbows / And what’s on the other side?” sings Kermit the Frog, in one of the unmistakable voices of his creator Jim Henson.
If Henson and Sam Pottle’s theme to The Muppet Show is the national anthem of those long-running, lovable fur and felt characters, “The Rainbow Connection” is its “God Bless America.” Kermit’s ode to “the lovers, the dreamers…and me,” as penned by Paul Williams and Kenny Ascher, is one of the most indelible musical moments in a film already full of them.
This month, as Disney debuts The Muppet Movie on Blu-Ray in a “Nearly 35th Anniversary Edition, Walt Disney Records will reissue its original soundtrack album, its first bow on CD in two decades. After the jump, learn more about the movie (and the soundtrack) that lives up to the promise on the poster: “More Fun Than Humanly Possible!”
After decades on the small screen – whether part of advertisements, sketch comedy, Sesame Street or the acclaimed The Muppet Show (1976-1981) – 1979 was the right time for Jim Henson’s Muppets to make the jump to movie theaters. The feature told the story of Kermit the Frog, Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, The Great Gonzo and all the others in the Muppet gang, in a cross-country journey to Hollywood to pursue acting and make millions of people happy – except for the evil Doc Hopper, who schemes to make Kermit the face of his French-fried frog legs franchise. The Muppet Movie saw huge advances in the artistry that bought the characters to life; here, The Muppets were often featured in full rather than the waist down, riding bikes, driving cars and serving as versatile foils for the star-studded human cast.
To give The Muppet Movie its musical flair, Henson turned to Paul Williams, the acclaimed songwriter behind “We’ve Only Just Begun” and “Evergreen.” A familiar presence to Muppet fans as both a guest star on the series and the writer of the song score to the acclaimed Muppet special Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas, Williams and writing partner Ascher delivered a song score full of Muppet classics, including “The Rainbow Connection,” “Movin’ Right Along” and “I’m Going to Go Back There Someday.”
“[W]e wrote the songs, and just had a ball,” Williams said of his work. “Jim Henson gave you more [creative] freedom than anybody I’ve ever worked with in my life. I said, ‘You want to hear the songs as we’re writing them?’ He said, ‘No. I’ll hear them in the studio. I know I’m gonna love them.’ You just don’t get that kind of freedom on a project these days.” And audiences shared Henson’s enthusiasm: both the album and “The Rainbow Connection” were Top 40 hits, and the tune was nominated for an Oscar for Best Song.
The Muppet Movie‘s soundtrack was last released to CD in 1993, three years after Henson’s death, on the BMG-distributed Jim Henson Records label. Like that disc, this set features the original Atlantic Records LP in its entirety, although this release restores the original cover art.
The lovers, the dreamers and you won’t want to miss this release when it’s out August 13. The full track list and order links are below!
The Muppet Movie: Original Soundtrack Recording (released as Atlantic SD 19001, 1979 – reissued Walt Disney Records D0018525-02, 2013)
- The Rainbow Connection – Kermit The Frog
- Movin’ Right Along – Kermit The Frog & Fozzie Bear
- Never Before, Never Again – Miss Piggy
- Never Before, Never Again (Instrumental)
- I Hope That Somethin’ Better Comes Along – Kermit The Frog & Rowlf The Dog
- Can You Picture That? – Dr. Teeth & The Electric Mayhe
- I Hope That Somethin’ Better Comes Along (Instrumental)
- I’m Going to Go Back There Someday – The Great Gonzo
- America – Fozzie Bear
- Animal…Come Back Animal (Instrumental)
- Finale: The Magic Store – The Muppets