My son William likes to sing. He likes to sing loudly. He likes to sing joyfully (and maybe a little tiny bit off-key). And lately, he’s been on a Kermit the Frog kick. So he’s been singing “The Rainbow Connection.”
And it got me thinking. Why are there so many songs about rainbows and what’s on the other side?
But first, let’s think about this. How many songs about rainbows are actually out there? Just off the top of my head, I can name about four songs about rainbows. Of course, “The Rainbow Connection” is the ultimate meta-choice. But there’s also “Let’s Make a Rainbow,” which the children’s librarians at the downtown library here in Nashville always sing during storytime. There’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” for all you Judy Garland fans. There’s “Colors of the Rainbow,” which I actually know better by one of the lyrics, which is “You can sing a rainbow, sing a rainbow, sing a rainbow, too.” And wasn’t there some song about ROY G. BIV that I learned in science class about 25 years ago, when we learned about prisms and rainbows and spectrums and stuff? I can’t find it on Google, but I swear there was once such a song.
Also, I am definitely not the first person to meditate on this topic. A very informal search turned up dozens of websites and blog posts. This writer actually made a chart of all the words that appear in “The Rainbow Connection.” And here’s a whole huge list of songs about rainbows that I’ve never even heard of. Here’s a database you can search for songs with “rainbow” contained therein (The Ramones? Merle Haggard? Who knew?).
Given that the rainbow has theological significance in the Judeo-Christian tradition, it’s not too surprising that I stumbled upon religious songs about rainbows, too. In the book of Genesis, Noah saw a rainbow after the flood waters receded; it was God’s promise that he wouldn’t send another flood again. So you’ve got songs like Lenny Leblanc’s “If I Was a Rainbow, I’d Show My Colors for You” and the hymn “O Love That Will Not Let Me Go.”
And if you’re feeling a little nostalgic by now for sweet little Kermit in the swamp, check this out. A blogger with The San Francisco Gate wrote a tribute to “The Rainbow Connection,” which includes a whole slew of videos of people singing their version of the song.
So apparently a whole bunch of people have written songs about rainbows. But I have to admit something. I’d never write a song about rainbows myself. I actually think rainbows are kind of, well, cheesey. Yes, they are beautiful, but they’ve sort of been done to death. I mean, c’mon. Wouldn’t I then have to write a song about sunsets? Or unicorns? (Er, not that I was planning to write a song about anything. ‘Course I did just write a whole blog post about rainbows, so…)
There’s an exception to every rule, of course. I really do love “The Rainbow Connection.” I don’t know if it’s because I get a kick out of a frog playing a banjo, or it’s warm fuzzy associations from enjoying “The Muppet Movie” as a child. Maybe it’s because I now associate it with my sweet, pink-cheeked child warbling it when he’s in a good mood. Or maybe it’s just the best rainbow song that’s out there. I think I’ll stick with that answer….someone else can listen to that whole list of other rainbow songs and let me know if there are any other keepers.
But I haven’t answered my original question, the one posed by Kermit himself. Why are there so many songs about rainbows? Well…the short answer is…I don’t know. But I’m sure that, someday, we’ll find it.