Thankful For “When You Wish Upon a Star”

Note: During the months of November and December, I will be posting something I am thankful for within the spectrum of Disney. With so much negativity in the world, I encourage everyone to be thankful and count their blessings.

Sometimes a song can take you away to another place, or help you believe that dreams come true. I know I’m thankful for songs like these.

There are memorable songs from movies – you know, the songs that you find yourself humming long after the film ended – and then there are songs that transcend movies. Leigh Harline and Ned Washington’s “When You Wish Upon a Star” goes far beyond the film it was written for. This is not in anyway a knock on Pinocchio. No, the movie is among my favorite Disney animated movies – quite possibly my favorite, depending on the day! It’s just that the song itself is so much more. It’s become not only a theme song for the Walt Disney Company in general, but one to dreamers everywhere as well.

Like a bolt out of the blue...

Like a bolt out of the blue…

The notion of wishing upon a star may seem silly, but the idea of dreams coming true? Well, this is something we all long for. Now, in the “real world” we realize we can’t sit back and wait for things to come to us. If Walt had simply wished upon a star without actively pursuing that dream…. well, I don’t think that would have turned out very well. However, the notion of dreams coming true if we have the courage to pursue them (hmmm… now THAT sounds catchy!) is a noble one. Throw in a wish on the evening star as well? Believe in your dreams, and you never know.

Every time my family goes to Disneyland, we always pause underneath Sleeping Beauty’s Castle to here Jiminy Cricket sing his anthem to passers by. Combined with the magical feeling that the park brings, that song means even more there. And I’m certainly thankful for the feeling it brings.

I feel it only fitting to close out this thankful post with the song itself – perhaps my favorite cover of “When You Wish…” Take it away, Pops….

Happy Birthday to a Timeless Voice

If I had to choose one song in the Disney library to hear for the rest of my life, it would be Leigh Harline and Ned Washington’s  “When You Wish Upon a Star.” The lyrics are incredibly moving, speaking to the hopeful child in all of us: if you wish it with all your heart, and of course on a star, your dreams can come true. The melody fits perfectly as well – one is soothed in the belief that, for at least the three plus minute duration of the song, everything is going to be wonderful. The songwriters did an amazing job, and “When You Wish…” has been covered by countless musicians, both lyrically and instrumentally.

However, the original version is the one that remains with me. It’s the version that still plays in the walkway to Sleeping Beauty’s Castle at Disneyland. It still makes me slow my pace as I walk through, because I hear that voice, and feel… home.

That voice. Belonging to one man: Cliff “Ukelele Ike” Edwards.

The Man…. The Cricket… The Legend

On this day (June 14th) in 1895, Cliff Edwards was born in Hannibal, Missouri. Before he was known as the voice of Jiminy Cricket, as well as Jim Crow in Dumbo, and his appearances on The Mickey Mouse Club in the 50’s, he was a well known vaudevillian, singer and actor. He was the first person responsible for singing this familiar little tune on the silver screen:

Life, sadly, was not kind to Ike. Despite his resurgence as a voice fixture with Disney, he was also a drinker and drug addict with many financial difficulties, a grim reminder that dreams in the real world didn’t always come true. When he died, penniless and unknown in 1971, his body lay unclaimed for several days; no one knew who he was.

I’m hoping that today, many of you, dear readers, will remember and spread the word of who he was: A man who touched the world with his voice. Although his face may not be recognizable, any time you watch Pinocchio or Dumbo; whenever you think “I’m No Fool” as you cross the street; as you pass under Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, I hope you remember Ukelele Ike.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Edwards. Your life on Earth was not always the easiest, but your voice helped define generations of Disney lovers around the world. For that, we are eternally grateful.