The Music of Robin Williams

To say that I am shocked and saddened by the death of comedy legend Robin Williams, is exactly right.  I walked in the door from a super fun party last night and was greeted by my wife, who asked me if I knew yet.  Had I been on Facebook yet?  Ummmm…. Knew what?  What was going on?  And then, there it was.  I just couldn’t believe it.  It didn’t seem true.  It felt like a hoax.  It felt like one of the brightest lights in the universe had suddenly gone out, leaving the world noticeably dimmer.  And I have been sad ever since.

He was a major influence on me and my “style” of just throwing every possible joke out there to see if something sticks.  His improv was unmatchable.  Robin Williams was just the master, of impressions, of facial expressions, of on-the-fly, off-the-wall, out-of-this-world comedy.  But he has also done some of my favorite music.

The first thing I ever saw him in was probably Popeye.  In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen that movie since the first time I saw it in 1986 or so.  Probably time to re-watch it with the kids.  But even though I haven’t seen the movie in forever, I know the song.  Fun fact: “I Yam What I Yam” aaaaalmost cracked the Billboard Hot 100.  It peaked at #104.

And though I couldn’t watch the movie at the time, I was very aware of him in Good Morning Vietnam.  He was everywhere in the 80’s, and I watched Mork and Mindy whenever it was on.  A little, way back when, and then more, once it was added to the Nick at Nite lineup.  But really, he became a part of me forever as Genie in Aladdin.  After the surprising excellence of The Little Mermaid, and the best-picture nominated Beauty and the Beast, suddenly there came this movie that was so…fun!  I fell in love, and can still pretty much quote the entire thing to this day.  And I can sing all of the songs with no “pretty much” about it.

Maybe my favorite musical thing Robin Williams ever did was this random recording he did with Bobby McFerrin of “Come Together,” by the Beatles.  I don’t remember when I first heard it, college I think, but it has been heavily on my playlists ever since.  Pure magic.

Of course, in addition to the professional recordings, there were all of those little one-offs that he did.  The program was always improved when he showed up, like when he sang “Blame Canada” at the Oscars.

Or when he did that duet with Wayne Brady on Whose Line Is It Anyway…

Or his stint as Russian Idol:

And he made music a part of a lot of his movies.  Obviously, we can’t forget the dinosaur song thingy from Mrs. Doubtfire,

And his operatic cartoon from the opening of the film,

But I can think of no more fitting way to end this post, than with this video of Robin Williams as a penguin, belting out Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” in Spanish.  Rest in peace, brother.  You’ve earned it.

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Posted in Comedy, Death, Music, Robin Williams, Tenor Tuesday.

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