(Note: Volumes have been spoken and written about the Sherman Brothers, both before and after the passing of Robert Sherman. This is my personal tribute to both brothers and the profound impact they had on my life. For a more comprehensive history, I highly recommend the movie “The Boys: The Sherman Brothers Story,” directed by (their sons) Jeff and Greg Sherman.)
When I was 16, I went on a choir trip to Disneyland. Before leaving, with a few extra dollars in hand, I made a decision to buy something that would affect me profoundly.
Now, obviously, I knew the music well, so it wasn’t the score that had such a profound effect on me. The last tracks of the CD contained an interview with Richard and Robert Sherman. As they reminisced about the making of the movie and the songs they wrote, Richard would occasionally play at the piano and they would both sing bits from the movie. The first time they started singing their songs, the world of the songwriter really opened up to me.
And I fell in love with the music of The Sherman Brothers.
The interview can be heard here:
Although I had grown up with Disney music since childhood and was aware of their songs, there was something that really clicked. I found myself paying more and more attention to lyrics of songs, how well they worked within the films. It helped spur my appreciation for the newer works of Menken and Ashman, as well as classic tunes by the likes of Frank Churchill and George Bruns.
In a sense, I suppose you could say my love of Disney music can be attributed to (blamed on?) the Sherman Brothers.
Fast forward to the present. On the morning of March 6th, in the midst of a trip to Disneyland, I woke up to read the news: Robert Sherman had passed away at the age of 86.
Eighty-Six years is an extraordinary life – so many are given so much less – and longetivity and a full life are things to be celebrated. Yet, there was a profound sadness in Robert’s passing. And there was a definite air of bittersweet-ness in the fact that I was at Disneyland when I heard the news of his passing. It allowed my family to pay their respects while riding It’s A Small World. I rode through The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh saluting nothing in general as the music played. I did the silent nod toward the Tiki Room out of respects.
But perhaps the biggest moment came for me from the following story: My four year old daughter had been insistent that we go to Build-a-Bear in Downtown Disney that day; not so she could stuff an animal, but so I could. I told her I didn’t need one. I tried to convince her. Honestly, I didn’t want to spend the money on another plush animal. However, she was adamant, on the verge of tears, telling me that she knew I NEEDED a stuffed friend. Begging that I do it for me, not for her. Then inspiration struck. I agreed to stuff an animal for me, on the terms that I got to pick it out as well as name it. So with her help, I picked it out, stuffed it and named it.
That evening, Sherman the Dog got to pay his own respects in front of the Sherman Brothers’ window on Main Street, USA.
Thank you, Dick and Bob Sherman. Thank you for the music. Thank you for the interview that inspired at least one young Disney fan (and I’m sure there are countless more). Your relationship may not have been the greatest, but in your works…. it was magical.