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“I’m Going To Go Back There Someday” is the saddest tune ever sung by a Muppet

In Hear ThisA.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well—some inspired by a weekly theme and some not, but always songs worth hearing. This week we ask, “What song makes you cry?”

Between the first and second seasons of The Muppet Show, Dave Goelz performed a major cosmetic overhaul on his signature character, Gonzo the Great. Gonzo’s hooded eyes made The Muppet Theater’s resident performance artist something of a perpetual sadsack—when Goelz articulated the puppet’s eyelids, he was able to project a greater range of emotion and enthusiasm through the character. The new version of Gonzo reveled in failure as much as success, and it was this characterization that pushed him to the forefront of the Muppet ensemble—and into one of the starring roles in 1979’s The Muppet Movie

His change in demeanor aside, Gonzo still delivers the big tearjerker of The Muppet Movie’s soundtrack, “I’m Going To Go Back There Someday.” Delivered at a point in the film when the characters’ Hollywood fantasies seem too far out of reach, the Kenny Ascher-Paul Williams composition succinctly describes the feeling of achieving your dreams—before having those dreams ripped from your clutches. It’s a sentiment more in line with Goelz’s original interpretation of Gonzo, but it wouldn’t tug at the heartstrings the way it does without the ache of that tire-eating weirdo. There’s a sadness there that no amount of redesigns could wean out, and the hitches in Goelz’s vocals—along with the lyrics about getting a rush of fulfillment and wanting more than anything to feel that way again—absolutely kill me every time I hear the song. 

(For additional water works, give a listen to the version of “I’m Going To Go Back There Someday” performed during a medley of Jim Henson’s favorite songs at the late Muppet creator’s 1990 memorial service. And then just weep for days, because how could this world contain so much beauty and so much sadness at the same time?)