SONG TITLE: A KISS AT THE END OF THE RAINBOW
PERFORMER: MITCH AND MICKEY (EUGENE LEVY AND CATHERINE O'HARA)
SONGWRITER: MICHAEL MCKEAN AND ANETTE O'TOOLE
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2003
COMMENTS: By rights, the principle credit must go to the songwriters. Michael McKean went from being Lenny to Spinal Tap (for which he helped write some actually pretty good songs) to this just exquisitely sad, beautiful song for A Mighty Wind. This is apparently one of the first couple of songs ever authored by his wife and co-writer. Apparently she'd been hiding her light under a bushel.
The song was written as the climax of the movie, the big moment of a tribute concert. Thus it comes it with a lot of backstory and great added meaning beyond the surface of the song.
The song itself is beautiful. It is a tender pop-folk melody, a romantic duet. Most obviously, this would parallel Sonny and Cher with "I Got You Babe." However, "A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow" is 100 times better and more powerful than the minor classic from Sonny and Cher.
For starters, this tune has more emotion, and more sophistication. "I Got You Babe" is catchy enough, but it's kind of a sing-song paint-by-numbers melody, a couple of decent very short melodic parts with no particular emotional emphasis or meaning. "A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow" is actually considerably catchier and more memorable, in significant part because it is simply more developed. Thus there's more melodic meat to catch on to.
Particularly, the lyric here is exponentially better than the Sonny and Cher model. Again, the words of "I Got You Babe" aren't bad. This simple declaration of faith in love is decently well executed. It's a decent explication of a basic pop song catechism.
"A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow," however, benefits greatly from the theatrical nature of the songwriting. That is, it is written in a self-conscious third person character as Gershwin or Berlin did, rather than being simply a page ripped out of Jewel's personal diary. It opens a far greater realm of possibilities than Alanis Morissette singing about her period, or whatever it is that she does.
This declaration of unending love comes expressed in these thick teenage romantic metaphors about knights and maidens fighting through veils of dreams to be together. Coming in a movie from the creators of Spinal Tap, you might expect humor, satire. There's some of that in the movie, and some of the other brilliant songs, but not here. It's dead straight. Basically, by this point the creators have too much invested in these characters and their particular personal tragedy to blow off their big climax as a cheap joke.
We're all coming in to the story late. This was Mitch and Mickey's big hit as romantic youngsters in the 60s, peaking in the backstory in a famous live tv performance with a dramatic kiss. Long divorced and estranged, in and out of a psychiatric hospital and out of contact, they're reuniting to sing the song at a tribute show.
Thus, there's a moment of silence built right into the final moments of the song- the moment of The Kiss- that carries great dramatic weight. In context, the brave gesture of love was not enough. These are some of the most meaningful few seconds of silence in modern recorded pop music.
Eugene Levy sings better than you might would expect, but Catherine O'Hara as Mickey really breaks my heart with the openess and vulnerability of the aching of the character singing these tender phrases:
My sweet, my dear, my darling
You're so far away from me
Though an ocean of tears divides us
Let the bridge of our love span the sea
Now, these decades later, she's going back in front of a television audience to sing this song, and knowingly walk into all that heavy emotional fallout - truly reaching out across an "ocean of tears" that they could have had no idea of those decades earlier.
Mickey also packs a lot into the basic autoharp that is the principle orchestral color of the record. It works very nicely on a basic musical level, really contributing to the earnest Renaissance Fair atmosphere. Yet again, there seems to be symbolic weight to the instrument. She's carrying it around like the embodiment of her teenage dreams.
The movie A Mighty Wind is a thing of beauty. The songs written for the movie are mostly pretty outstanding and rewarding a bunch of different ways. And this climactic song, in the movie or just as a stand alone audio recording, contains the whole.
Mickey and Mitch Pictures, page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
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