Beloved comedic actor Gene Wilder’s death at the age of 83 had led to an outpouring of emotional tributes from fans and collaborators alike. While there has been plenty of love for films such as Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles, it’s his turn as the titular Willy Wonka in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory that seems to resonate with people the most. It’s also the most appropriate avenue for musicians to pay tribute to Wilder, since it is a musical. Wilder’s big song in the film is “Pure Imagination,” and a couple of bands have used it to honor the legacy of the late actor. Both Coldplay and Oberhofer busted out renditions of “Pure Imagination” to mark Wilder’s passing.
Coldplay performing “Pure Imagination” seems pretty much perfect. It seems like the thing they would have done at some point regardless. However, their acoustically-tinged version of the song from their concert in Denver on Monday night had added weight to it given the solemnity of the occasion. On the other hand, Oberhofer did a full cover of the song, turning it into something of a rollicking rocker without losing the gentleness and peacefulness of the original.
“Pure Imagination” is a sweet song, which makes it feel particularly appropriate at a time like this. It’s certainly more appropriate than that crazy song Wonka sings in the nightmare tunnel that his boat goes through. Although, if somebody were to cover that song, it would really be a testament to the range that Wilder was capable of.