I’m not long home from the BBC where I was giving the week’s entertainment review on “Parkinson’s Sunday Supplement” and am now gearing myself up to go into Broadcasting House again, tomorrow, in order to record the first of a series of programmes I am making for Radio 2 about the songs and music in the Disney Songbook.
It’s the most broadcasting activity I’ve had in a long while - which feels great but also curious when I think that, just a few years back, I was presenting two live radio programmes a week… It’s nice to be back in the swim - if only briefly…
Anyway, the new series - which is entitled “Ain’t No Mickey Mouse Music” and begins on 7th July - has set me thinking again about the extraordinary potency of the music which has accompanied Disney films for almost eighty years from ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ to the ‘Toy Story’ movies.
The catalogue of memorable, award winning, songs (37 Oscars no less!) is, whether we like it or not, part of 20th (and now 21st) Century popular culture. And, as visitors to Disney’s various theme parks in America, Europe and Asia will know, that music is further driven into our communal consciousness from being wrapped around us as we ride the attractions, watch the parades or just stroll around in the all-enveloping atmosphere of total Disneyfication!
There is no question that songs like Snow White's "I'm Wishing" or the Little Mermaid's "Part of Your World" have helped define the characters in those films and tell their story, or that songs like "Baby Mine" from 'Dumbo' or "Little April Shower" in 'Bambi' have powerfully evoked emotions; but the question remains whether numbers like the famously anthemic "When You Wish Upon a Star" from 'Pinocchio' or the theme park attraction song "It's a Small World After All" are anything more than overly sentimental wishful thinking. Among many other topics, the radio series will examine this question and show how Disney has been peddling its morality pills since the earliest days of filmmaking - always, of course, suitably sugar-coated for ease in swallowing!
But, whatever the pros and cons, the truth is that even those who make no secret of their dislike for Disney songs could very probably hum a verse of 'Feed the Birds' or 'Zip-a-dee-doo-dah' - if their lives depended on it!
Full details of “Ain’t No Mickey Mouse Music” are on my website: www.briansibley.com
[Image: © Brian Sibley]