Today, I am nine again.
That’s how old I was when The Muppet Movie came out, and it is still one of my favorites. For a kids’ movie, the jokes a pretty sophisticated, but then again, the Muppets weren’t really just for kids. Sesame Street is for children, and The Muppet Show was designed as wholesome family entertainment. But like all the best programs for kids, there was an adult sensibility built into it so that their parents would have something to laugh at, too. The Muppet Movie was the same way, which is why the Muppets still hold up well today.
I also still love the soundtrack. There are some truly excellent songs,”Rainbow Connection” being the most obvious. The songs were catchy, clever, and carried universal meaning. Of course, they were also co-written by Paul Williams, one of the better songwriters of all time. “Can You Picture That?” is performed in the movie by the Muppets’ resident rock band, Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem, and it’s about as rocking as anything on the radio in that period. The message? Be yourself, believe in yourself; if you can imagine it, you can do it. It’s pretty simple stuff. But the presentation is palatable to all audiences, although kids might not get a lot of the references (I know I didn’t). Listening closely, I realize that the lyrics are pretty disjointed; they seem to be put together largely for the rhymes. “I never think of money, I think of milk and honey, grinning like a Cheshire cat. . .Can you picture that?” The mental pictures the song creates are pretty wild. There’s a bit of spoofing in the song, too. A lot of rock-pop bands in the 70s sounded a lot like this, and although their lyrics were slightly more coherent, they were no less ridiculous. There’s a (family friendly) appearance of hedonism, of “jelly belly giggling, dancing and a-wiggling, honey that’s the way I am.” The message doesn’t even really show up until the bridge: “Fact is there’s nothing out there you can’t do. Yeah, even Santa Claus believes in you.” The Muppets remind us that anyone can follow their dreams, even if their dreams are about an “aurora borealis, shining down in Dallas.” Just remember to “use it if you need it, don’t forget to feed it.” All you gotta do is see it.
Or as Animal succinctly put it, “Cas yah bag e yaht?”