"Rainbow Connection," 33 Years Later


33 years ago yesterday, The Muppet Movie made its silver screen debut. Over the opening credits, Kermit played his banjo in the swamp, singing the now-iconic theme song, "Rainbow Connection." The song was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for Best Original Song, though it didn't win either; instead it reached #25 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, appeared in every subsequent Muppets film, and has been covered dozens of times. And it all started with Jim Henson's voice in a swamp.

Let's take a look back at some notable performances...after a tiny bit of trivia: On March 27, 1996, a New Zealand man invaded a radio station and held its manager hostage. His main demand? That the station, Star FM, play "Rainbow Connection." Before the song could be played, police retook the station and arrested the man. "Who said that every wish would be heard and answered when wished on the morning star," indeed. (Wakka wakka!)

The Original

The intro to The Muppet Movie. The song was written by Paul Williams and Kenny Ascher.

Kermit & Debbie Harry

From the Muppet Show, Kermit duets with Debby Harry.

The Carpenters (Demo)

Karen Carpenter recorded this demo for her band in 1981; it wasn't completed until twenty years later, when Richard Carpenter completed the arrangement.

Dixie Chicks

Another terrific cover by Dixie Chicks. (You're heard their version of "Landslide," right?)

Jason Mraz

The video doesn't look great, but the singing is fantastic.

Willie Nelson

This one takes a while to get going, but is worth it.

One for the Geeks

An acid-base titration demonstration, in which a rainbow of colors is created (and then combined) as the song plays. Adorable.