The Rainbow Connection Controversy

John Scalzi last night mentioned a controversy with the Kermit the Frog song The Rainbow Connection, a controversy I never realized existed because I thought Kermit’s meaning was obvious. Judging by the comments in that post, however, I’d have to say that I was wrong. Not in my interpretation, but in my faith in humanity to get this right.

First, let’s let Mr. Scalzi explain the problem:

My wife and I have a disagreement about a line in the song “The Rainbow Connection.” The line is:

“Why are there so many songs about rainbows, and what’s on the other side?”

I am of the opinion the line is two independent ideas, i.e., Kermit asks why there are so many songs about rainbows; independently he muses about what’s on the other side of rainbows.

Krissy, on the other hand, believes the line asks about songs about rainbows and also what’s on the other side of the rainbows, i.e., that the songs in question must refer to both.

I posted the following in the comments over there, but I thought I’d share my thoughts here as well:

Aren’t there 4 interpretations, though?

  1. Why are there so many songs about “rainbows and what’s on the other side of said rainbows”?
  2. Why are there so many songs about rainbows? What’s on the other side of said rainbows? In this one Kermit is first asking about the prevalence of songs about rainbows and then wondering what is on the other side.
  3. Is a variation of #1, except “what’s on the other side” refers to a question of what happens after death. This one is most likely to not be what he’s talking about. I mean, are there really a lot of songs about rainbows and death?
  4. Is a variation of #2, asking about the rainbows, then wondering about death. Kermit is really jumping around in this one.

I’ve always interpreted it as #2. Kermit is wondering why there are so many songs about rainbows. In the next breath he is wondering what is on the other side. All the other options just seem silly to me.

(if you like what you see here, why not visit me other blog paulliadis.com/blog)

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4 thoughts on “The Rainbow Connection Controversy

  1. OK, because I was an English lit major and spent most of my academic life explicating poetry by Donne, and Shakespeare, and Tennyson, et al., I feel somewhat prepared to join in this challenge of figuring out this Kermit the Frog song.

    I kinda agree with your wife. Kermit is wondering why there are so many songs about rainbows, and also why there are so many songs about what’s on the other side of rainbows. I don’t get any allusions to death here (rainbows are not really associated with death) and I agree, there are NOT a lot of songs about rainbows, Kermit doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

    There’s actually only ONE (very famous) song about rainbows, and what’s on the other side: Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

    • Oh, sure, bring grammar into it 🙂

      I agree that he’s asking about the rainbows, I just don’t know why he’d be so specific and further limit himself to songs about rainbows that are also about what’s on the other side.

      My whole worldview is knocked askew.

  2. I have always interpreted it as stated in 2.
    Kermit asks and wonders why are there so many songs about rainbows. And then Kermit also wonders what is on the other side. I have to assume here he means what is on the other side of rainbows. Not a death related question. I mean yes he came from a swamp, but he was all about singing bears, and bike riding pigs. Not one to get bogged down in reflecting on death at the sight of rainbow, but more leaning toward whimsical imaginings.

    And anyway I don’t know any songs about what is on the other side of rainbows. Oz is over the rainbow, way up high, not on the other side of it. But I would guess there are a few songs about rainbows in general. You can sing a rainbow, can’t you?

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