Richard Sherman was a guest at the 2013 D23 Expo and gave a concert with Alan Menken on Saturday (and how I’d loved to have seen that!); in honour of that, and just in recognition of how wonderful are so many of the songs he wrote with his brother Robert, this week’s Top 5 list is all about Sherman Brothers music. Now, there’s a good lot of it, and it’s hard for me to rank it into just the five best. I’ll admit: I have a predilection for the music that’s played in the theme parks. Not that all of it is my favourite, but considering that they’ve written a lot more for movies than for the theme parks, my list is kind of park-music-heavy.
You’ll survive. ;D
AKA, Carousel of Progress theme #2. Written after “Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow”, when GE requested that the message in Carousel of Progress be a bit more on the lines of “Buy things NOW! Not tomorrow, NOW!!” This song personifies a lot of what I like about the Sherman Brothers music, which is their ability to take a direct message (like WHEE! Capitalism!) and make an actual great song out of it. When you hear this song, do you feel like you’re being urged to go out and buy things, or do you just feel like the world is a kind of happy place? It’s not exactly inspired, but it gets the message across without hitting you over the head with it. With the Sherman Brothers, the goal is first to write a SONG, and if there’s a message to it it is – usually – couched pretty deeply within it.
#4: The Tigger Song
You know, “The wonderful thing about Tiggers/Is Tiggers are wonderful things!” This song is so much FUN. All the songs in “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh” are good, but this one is exactly what its subject presents himself as: fast and silly, flouncy, bouncy, and fun-fun-fun-fun-FUN. I commend them for having written a song that automatically makes me feel like bouncing in my chair when I hear it. Again, what a great skill, to be able to write music for a subject that is undeniably a song first, but also completely presents what it is about.
Actually, I feel that all the music in “Mary Poppins” is inspired. It’s all clever, the lyrics are amazing, the melodies are beautiful. It was hard to choose what song should be on this list. And I very nearly wanted “Feed the Birds”, because that song has so much going for it… beautiful, meaningful, and again the message is very subtle. But why did I go with Spoonful of Sugar instead then? I’ll tell you: because this song has a wonderful simple complexity to it. It’s tricky while still being easy to sing and to remember. It creeps into your head and you don’t realize that it’s got that middle section that plays off itself. The other thing I like about this song is that it’s really a quintessential Sherman Brothers song… You can tell this, because there are a few other songs they’ve written with the same sort of jolly marching song sound. “Step in the Right Direction” from Bedknobs and Broomsticks is a good example.
#2: One Little Spark
AKA the Figment/Journey Into Imagination song! The more I hear this song, the more I like it. It’s just catchier and catchier and catchier every time. Part of that is certainly the voices performing it, but it’s really a great tune too, evidenced by how often it shows up in Disney World’s musical “legacy”. Even just the music behind the melody, supporting it, is full of whimsy and cleverness. I think there is a reason this song has wormed its way into the hearts of so many people, and Figment and the Dreamfinder are only part of it. (Click here for a picture I REALLY wanted to put here, but it’s copyrighted, but you just HAVE to see it on Tom Bricker’s Flickr page!)
Well, and there it is. I kind of fell in love with this song the first time I went on the Carousel of Progress, and it really hasn’t diminished any over the past however many years. I taught it to my kids, I sing it whenever I can. Amusingly to me, it’s one of the “jolly marching” songs like Spoonful of Sugar. I love that this was the original song, then was removed for my #5 choice, then came back. I love that Walt had Robert and Richard come and perform it in the video to GE to get more funding. I love that it was based on “WALT has a dream, and that’s the start”. And I just love the message, that we can do whatever we put our mind to, and all it takes is time, and the future is guaranteed to be optimistic, better and better.
The sheer volume of the songs that the Sherman Brothers have contributed to Disney’s musical legacy is staggering, and this is a small sample. There’s a good chance that ANYTHING you say “You forgot such-and-such!” I’ll say “I didn’t forget it, I love that one!” But I only had five possible slots. So there we go. 😉
What’s your favourite Sherman Brothers tune? Leave a comment and let’s reminisce!