Gone to the Movies: Disney


What’s your favorite Disney song?  I’ve got lots, but I’ve noticed that I tend toward the really sappy, sentimental ones.  I’m happy to tap my toes along with “Bare Necessities” or “Under the Sea.”  I’ll grin like a loon every single time I hear “You Can Fly.”  And I’ll sing along with “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” (which I almost knew how to spell).  But the songs I listen to repeatedly are the ones that make me tear up.  Every. Damn. Time.

I don’t know what that says about me, although it’s pretty in keeping with my feelings about music.  I demand genuine feeling and emotion from my music.  Anything that doesn’t somehow feel like someone cared about it at some point in its production is garbage.  Now, arguably, all music has some genuine feeling in it somewhere.  But I’ve heard enough over-produced, poorly written, studio-dubbed crap to know that isn’t true.  Some music is created to appeal to the widest possible audience while (ostensibly) offending no one.  It’s bland and forgettable, completely lacking in any and all soul.  Many people feel that Disney is one of the mega entertainment conglomerates responsible for this kind of travesty, and I’m sure there’s more than a few Disney songs that fit this category (everything from, say, The Lion King, for example).  But they’re also responsible for a huge portion of the most iconic, and most recognizable, songs in popular culture.  And when these songs are done right, they are brilliant.

Take “When You Wish Upon a Star” for example.  Originally written for the 194o animated feature Pinocchio, the song seems to have taken on a life of its own.  This was the theme for the movie, and in the tradition of great themes, it laid out in simple musical terms the theme of the movie: “When you wish upon a star, your dreams come true.”  Toymaker Geppetto longs for a son, so he carves himself wooden marionette in the form of a little boy.  The Blue Fairy grants his wish and brings the wooden boy to life, but Pinocchio must prove himself “brave, truthful, and unselfish” in order to become a “real” boy.  I’m pretty sure you know the rest of the story (and if you don’t, go watch the movie, for goodness’ sake).  What I’m not sure anyone realized at the time was that they were creating the theme for all of Walt Disney’s empire.  “When You Wish Upon a Star” has become the de facto theme song of Disneyland–and Disney World, and all the rest of the resorts.  And movies.  And television shows.  The idea that your dreams can come true is something repeated over and over in everything Disney does.  Sure, these days those dreams seem to come attached to a price tag, but even consumerism can’t obscure the truth behind the song.  Warning: This clip contains the end of the movie, so have some tissues handy!  (It’s funny; I sometimes criticize newer Disney movies like Finding Nemo for being a little upsetting and dark, but that’s been a tradition of Disney movies since the beginning.  You can’t have the light without the dark, after all.)

Maybe we’d all do ourselves some good if we followed our dreams and imaginations a little more often.  And maybe all of our lives would be a little better if we listened to that little Jiminy Cricket in our hearts.  It certainly can’t hurt.  Of all the Disney songs I love, I think this one really might be my favorite.  It gets me every time.

So reply if you like with that one Disney song that gets you every time.  You know which one I mean.  The one that makes you happiest, and turns you into a child all over again.

9 thoughts on “Gone to the Movies: Disney

  1. The song that makes me teary is not a Disney song, but rather “Somewhere Out There” from An American Tail. I was ten when I saw it, and that movie made me cry and cry. I’m terrible with lyrics, but part of the song says that the two people who are missing each other still look at the same moon. That just resonated with me.

    A happy memory: my friend Jessica and I hiked the Cotswolds and we stopped for a day in Painswick to tour the Rococo Gardens. She told me how The Jungle Book is her favorite and then proceeded to sing all of “Bear Necessities” to me as we viewed the grounds. It was a funny moment.

    Great post!

    • That just shows how universal Disney really is, especially for anyone born since Walt created Mickey Mouse. It’s one of those things that everyone has some kind of happy memory of. 🙂

  2. It’s quite a challenge to choose just one Disney song. I guess my favorite pick me up song is “A Dream is Wish Your Heart Makes.” Everyone wants to believe that “no matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true.”

  3. I’m a Disney song junkie. I’ve probably memorized over half of their repertoire. Haha. I’ve always been partial to A Whole New World from Aladdin though and Just Around the Riverbend from Pocahontas 😀 If we’re counting Pixar, I love When She Loved Me from Toy Story 2. Always brings tears to my eyes :’)

    • I like the music from Aladdin quite a bit. My favorite from that soundtrack is “Never Had a Friend Like Me,” but “A Whole New World” runs a really close second.

      And of course Pixar counts! It falls under the Disney umbrella, after all. “I Will Go Sailing No More” is another killer.

  4. In all honesty, I enjoy the more zany, upbeat Disney songs. (When I See an Elephant Fly, Hi-Deedle-Dee-Dee, Supercalifragalisticealkdjf; akjf, The Three Caballeros). But I totally agree with you that it’s the sentimental ones that move me, let me reflect, and leave a lasting impression.

    Baby Mine, sticks out. I tear up just thinking about it. That lullaby evokes so much pathos.

    • Oh, yeah! I cannot listen to that song without crying, and I don’t even have kids. Zany Disney is great, too. I also have a fond spot for vampy songs like “He’s a Tramp.” the whole Disney catalog is really fun. I’m just a giant marshmallow that likes sappy best.

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