Whether you’re a Disney fan or not, chances are pretty good that you’ve had a Sherman Brothers song firmly stuck in your head at one point or another.
The songwriting duo got their big break when Annette Funicello turned one of their songs – “Tall Paul (He’s My All)” into a hit in the late ‘50s. Disney asked them to write more songs for the popular Mouseketeer, and you could say that things kind of took off after that. The Sherman Brothers’ influence can be found in everything from classic Disney movies to theme park attractions. Their music pretty much shaped the way most of us think not only about Disney, but about childhood.
Robert B. Sherman passed away at the age of 86 on Monday, so in tribute, here are 11 of our favorite Sherman Brothers songs.
1. “Let’s Get Together” from The Parent Trap. If you think the song is a bit catchy (you’re singing it right now, aren’t you?), you’re not alone. The ditty was a top 10 hit for actress Hayley Mills; billing was given to “Hayley Mills with Hayley Mills.” The success of this song resulted in the future Miss Bliss recording an entire album called, appropriately, Let’s Get Together with Hayley Mills.
2. “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The Sherman Brothers have said they loved working with Dick Van Dyke and have remained good friends with him after all of these years.
3. “The Tiki Tiki Tiki Room” from the Enchanted Tiki Room at Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom. Start at 5:35 unless you want to sit through the whole Tiki Room schtick.
4. “A Spoonful of Sugar” from Mary Poppins. To woo Julie Andrews to the part of Mary Poppins, Walt Disney had the Sherman Brothers write a tune that was sure to convince her. The duo penned a lovely song called “The Eyes of Love.” Andrews hated it. Walt asked for something catchier, which was a struggle for Robert until he went home to see his kids. They had received their polio vaccine that day and informed him that it hadn’t hurt at all – the medicine was simply placed on a sugar cube and they ate it like candy. Voila.
5. “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” from the Carousel of Progress, originally an attraction at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. If you’ve never had the pleasure of experiencing the Carousel of Progress, it’s an audio-animatronic show that marvels at the technological advances we’ve made since 1890. Before the show premiered, Disney called the Sherman Brothers into a studio somewhat unexpectedly to shoot a video to share with General Electric, the sponsor of the World’s Fair Pavilion. Here’s a clip that rather fascinating pitch film - the Sherman Brothers crooning with Disney himself.
6. “I Wan’na Be Like You (The Monkey Song)” from the Jungle Book. This is probably one of my favorite Disney songs, due in large part to the amazing vocals of Louis Prima and Phil Harris.
7. “Winnie the Pooh” from The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.
8. “Chim Chim Cher-ee” from Mary Poppins. Julie Andrews singled this song out as one of her favorite Disney songs, and it’s no surprise – the Andrews/Dick Van Dyke duet earned the Sherman Brothers an Oscar for “Best Original Song.” They also won a Grammy for Mary Poppins’ overall score.
9. “it’s a small world (after all)” originally from the 1964 World’s Fair. Imagineers originally intended to have all of the “small world” dolls sing their respective country’s national anthems. As you might imagine, they didn’t all sound great together. To replace that idea, Robert and Richard were tasked with creating a song that would basically convey the message, “it’s a small world – let’s not kill each other,” without being preachy. I’m going to do you a favor and spare you the video embed on this one. You’re welcome.
10. Substitutiary Locomotion from Bedknobs and Broomsticks.
11. “Feed the Birds (Tuppence a Bag)” from Mary Poppins. The Sherman Brothers were once asked if Walt had a favorite song of the more than 200 they had composed for him over the years. Richard Sherman immediately said that “Feed the Birds” was it, without a doubt, and that Walt would often have the brothers come to his office on Friday afternoons for a quick private performance of the tune.