WIth the D23 Expo days away, one of the ultimate highlights for me, if I were attending this year, would be “Richard M. Sherman and Alan Menken: The Disney Songbook.” One evening with both of these legends on stage would be an amazing sight to see. There’s just something about hearing songwriters sing and talk about their songs. While the voices that are picked to carry over onto film or radio are great, the fact that you’re hearing the person who first wrote the tune and/or lyrics bring out their original visions. And to hear the story that goes along with it? Amazing and priceless.
Perhaps that’s the reason I’m so into movies like “The Boys: The Sherman Brothers Story” and “Waking Sleeping Beauty.” Perhaps even just a little more than the finished product, I’m fascinated by the labor of love behind those same stories. Learning how the Shermans would come up with songs, envisioned one way (did you know “It’s a Small World” was originally a ballad?), and have it come out an entirely different way. How Howard Ashman would fight for his vision, from coaching vocal performances to fighting for inclusion of a piece that animators and directors just “didn’t see working.”
How many times, these songs would wind up on the cutting room floor.
One such song is a song that for some reason has become one of my favorite Disney songs as of late. A song that never made it into the movie “Aladdin.”
I realize ultimately there was no place for the song in the movie, as, in the end, Aladdin was a parent-less street urchin. However, the song resonates with me, maybe even more than any song in the movie that made the final cut did. How painful it must be for a songwriter to have such a labor of love be taken out like that.
Dick and Bob Sherman had a similar experience with “The Eyes of Love,” a lovely ballad that was cut out of Mary Poppins because Julie Andrews wasn’t a big fan of it (you can hear the story told in their own words on the Mary Poppins Special Edition Soundtrack). This is a common practice in movies and musicals – they’re always a work in progress until that final cut. (For more unused songs, I very highly recommend checking out “The Lost Chords” series of MP3s compiled by Randy Thornton.) However, I find such songs and stories fascinating.
If I were able to ask Richard Sherman or Alan Menken any one question, it would probably be the following: Which of your songs that never got used are you most proud of? What’s your favorite “unheard” piece? For, although these songs may not have been used in film, by no means are they weak songs. In fact, they can turn out to be very loved indeed.
What about you, readers and fellow DisNerds? Any favorite Disney songs that just didn’t make the cut in the final films? I’d love to hear from you!
I love the longer, unused version of “Poor, Unfortunate Souls”. I also am fond of the “Chimpanzoo” song cut from “Mary Poppins”.