Any regular reader of this blog knows I love music. I don't know how to play an instrument, I can't sing. Although sometimes Huntington and I hummed Abba songs while working (I thought about making a video of this), I am not going to go onstage for karaoke night anytime soon. Yet I do love music, how it can lift me up. When I put out my first ebook, I knew the right title was I Woke Up In Love This Morning for I knew people would be intrigued, then they would also say "David Cassidy!" So I was saddened to hear about Robert Sherman dying yesterday.
His name is not familiar to many people. I found out about him last year when I watched a documentary on him and his brother Richard called "The Boys" How can you remember him? One word for you: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. He and Richard wrote the songs for "Mary Poppins" I think I know all the songs, including "Chim Chim Cher-ee." Meranda and I sometimes sing the songs to her baby boy, who I swear to God looks like Michael Banks.
The Sherman Brothers pretty much wrote songs of my childhood, of many peoples' childhoods. They wrote Annette Funicello's "Tall Paul" which is a total earworm. They wrote the score of my niece's favorite movie The Parent Trap, with another catchy song sung by Hayley Mills called "Let's Get Together"
They worked on a steady basis for Disney but Mary Poppins was their crown jewel, the one they were most proud of. The one song that Walt Disney loved was "Feed The Birds" When they sang it for him (according to a Turner Classic Movies documentary The Age of Believing) he became teary. Disney knew the song was about parents spending time with their children. Not how much money you spend on them. It was time that was valuable.
The Sherman brothers also expanded to Disneyland. They wrote music for theme rides and the Tiki Room. But it was the song they wrote for the 1964 World Fair that became a ride. Come on everyone, let's sing it: "It's a world of laughter a world of tears. It's a world we can share... it's a small small world. It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all, it's a small word after all." It's in your head, isn't it? Thank me later.
They wrote the songs to The Jungle Book, The Aristocats, and music to the Winnie the Pooh movies. Yep, they're the ones that came up with "Fuzzy ole silly old bear." Although they had a falling out in the late '60's (even the documentary or their children could figure out why they did) they kept on writing amazing songs.
Then the worst thing happened: Walt Disney died. The heart and soul of Disney was gone, and in The Boys they admitted they couldn't go to the Disney studios because they kept on wanting to see Walt there. So eventually they left, and wrote the score/songs to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was not considered a hit back in the late 60s. A family musical about a flying car while protests against Vietnam wasn't "hip." Yet every year around Thanksgiving they showed the movie, and of course I loved it. Near my house they had a bakery called Toot Sweet, a song in the movie. I once wrote a novella about a girl who was being abused by her boyfriend. Unconscious she sees herself as a doll on a music box, like Sally Ann Howe in the movie, with the song "Truly Scrumptious" playing. The girl realizes she doesn't want to be a doll. She wants to live. Music can inspire other forms of creativity, be it writing, art, fashion. Although I never did anything with the novella, I'm grateful for the inspiration.
Eventually Robert Sherman went to live in London, where he wrote novels and painted. He helped make Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang into stage musicals. In the documentary The Boys it wasn't made clear if he and Richard ever made up. Their sons (who made the documentary) were still confused why they fought in the first place. And yet, when President Bush gave the Sherman brothers the Congressional Medal of Arts, the brothers (now in their eighties) held hands. Walt would've been so happy to have seen this. It was worthy of a Sherman brothers song.
Causes Jennifer Gibbons Supports
Gilda's Club, Greenpeace, Rosie's Broadway Kids,Westwind Foster Family Agency, Amber Brown Fund, Linda Duncan Fund for Contra Costa Libraries