WHY THE SHERMAN BROTHERS ARE TWO OF THE MOST UNDERRATED AMERICAN COMPOSERS OF ALL TIME
Inspired by a recent visit to Disneyland.
- •Who are The Sherman Brothers?If you're even casually familiar with the Disney catalogue, then you know the work of The Sherman Brothers. They were Walt's go-to guys for songwriting in the '60s and early '70s. If you haven't had one of their songs stuck in your head at some point, then you just aren't living on this planet.
- •Mary PoppinsNo one ever mentions The Sherman Brothers and Stephen Sondheim in the same sentence. Sondheim is a "serious" writer, while the Shermans wrote "children's" music. But take a look at Mary Poppins - their greatest triumph. "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" is not a trifle. It's IMPRESSIVE songwriting. And is there anything more beautiful than "Feed the Birds"? The answer is no. No there isn't.
- •DisneylandWhen Walt was preparing his new attraction for the 1964 New York World's Fair, he asked The Sherman Brothers to write a song that was catchy and could be translated easily into multiple languages. "It's a Small World (After All)" is a masterstroke in simplicity. See also all the songs in the Enchanted Tiki Room (featuring some of the best wordplay you'll ever encounter). And the song from World of Color? Also them. They're basically the soundtrack to the entire park.
- •Non-Disney worksIn the late '60s and '70s, the Shermans branched out and did some work with other studios, much to Walt's chagrin. "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" caused a rift, and after that their work with the Disney corporation was more sporadic. "CCBB" is not a great film, but their catchy melodies are the obvious highlight. Same with "Charlotte's Web." But when they did still work with Disney, it was as terrific as ever. The "Winnie the Pooh" songs alone are just marvelous.
- •The BoysThere's a very good doc called "The Boys: The Sherman Brothers' Story" that you should seek out. Once you realize all the songs they wrote together, you cannot ignore their important contributions to the American songbook. Children will be singing their melodies for years to come. And so will adults.