Friday, January 18, 2013

The Soundtrack of Innocence

My All-Time Most Memorable Family Movie Songs

File Under: Hearing is Believing

Every human being that has ever walked this Earth has had an opportunity to serve a purpose in the grand, Gordian scheme either to further or hinder what we, in our limited at best vision, understand to be Good and Evil.  We take many paths in fulfilling this purpose: some build nations, some invent and innovate, some teach, some philosophize, some protect, some judge, some punish, some administrate, some sanitize, some heal - the paths are endless.  No one path is more or less noble or ignoble than another.  Others, like Walt Disney, they chose to provide an outlet for the imagination of Children and a place for parents to bond with their children.  For the contributions of him and those who both preceded and followed him, we are grateful for the enrichment their artwork has provided our lives.  Here is a look at some of the most indelible 20th century family movies through the music that helped to make the stories, characters, and moments memorable.

The Academy Award-winning song "Somewhere Out There" from one of the first movies I can remember watching, 1986's  "An American Tail," tells us that the inspiring power of  love cannot be thwarted by distance - or the fact that you are a mouse.

While Anne Bancroft as Mrs. Robinson in 1967's "The Graduate" made Cougars cool, for anyone who hearts: proper posture, immaculate elocution, and pristine poise - Julie Andrews as nanny "Mary Poppins" 1964, was your boyhood crush.  I won't comment on the chemical co-dependency I learned by misinterpreting the meaning behind "A Spoonful of Sugar," instead I'll share "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious," which further inspired my love of word-craft and the English language.

"Under the Sea" from 1989's Disney classic "The Little Mermaid," endeavors to teach us to be happy with the blessings in the world around us because the grass is not always greener on the other side.  Ironically, the song just made me want to go live in the ocean.  Imagine my chagrin when I did manage to go "under the sea" and found it to be a dark, scary place where I could not swim or breath and no one was playing music.  Disney, you and your lies.  *sad face*

After decades of supremacy culminating in "The Lion King," it seems Disney lost the magic.  From the final great animated feature they would ever release solely under the Disney banner, 1995's "Pocahontas" comes one of its most powerful, poignant, and inspirational songs ever.  "Colors of the Wind" explores the concept that this Earth and the Universe of which we are all a part and is a part of all of us is a living thing.  Pocahontas helps John Smith correct his Imperialist views explaining that humans do not own the Earth, we merely have the privilege to live upon it, our actions towards it matter, and it deserves our respect.  Moreover, the criteria those who seek to conquer and subjugate use to to label, categorize, judge, discriminate, separate, oppress, control, and exploit is stupid when you stop and realize we all came from the same space dust.

"Hakuna Matata" from Disney's 1994 epic classic "The Lion King" speaks for itself: it means no worries.  This is probably a large number of people's favorite song from their favorite Disney movie, and it is not hard to understand why.

If "Wizard of Oz" can be said to have contributed to my affinity for short people then "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory" from 1971 definitely spawned my conflicting fear and distrust of them.  Also, something about watching the zany Gene Wilder torment a group of parents and their horrid children also appealed to my latent Tim Burton fan waiting to bloom.  The song "The Candy Man Can" is awesome for a number of reasons.  First, it is simple an awesome song, which becomes even more apparent in the Sammy Davis Jr. cover of 1972 that spawns the consummate entertainer's first #1 hit.  Second, I love how absolutely inappropriate and creepy the candy store owner is - no wonder he gives his candy away for free.  And Finally this scene hearkens back to a time when I remember there being a candy store in my neighborhood and it was a thriving business - in the before times when selling candy was not politically incorrect.  Most of what you learn comes through the short Oompa Loompa Choruses so pay attention!  And, yes, yes - I was wise.  I listened to all the lessons of the movie, and did like the Ooompa Loompa doopa dee do ...mostly.

"Please Don't Eat the Daisies" is a song from the feel-good Metro-Goldwyn Mayer release of 1960, "Please Don't Eat the Daisies," featuring the vocal and comedic talents of the lovely Doris Day.  The song was also released as a single by Day.  What did I learn here?  Spring (marked by rain) comes in April, it is important to interject a little a absurdity into your life every now and then, and if you tell a woman that you love her she is going to make ridiculous requests.  Too bad I did not remember that last part when I got older.

For all the bad things we have learned from cartoons throughout the years -  like violence, bigotry and sexism - my have we also learned some righteous things as well.  In Disney's 1967 classic "The Jungle Book," we learn protecting the innocent is the right thing to do no matter who they are, home is where the heart is, family are those who share spirit not just blood, and true friends are willing to lay down their life on the line for you.  Many a seed of inspiration were sewn in the hearts of future Preppers and Survivalists with the simple wisdom of the tune, "The Bear Necessities."  We do not have to depend on industrialized societies or because, because Mother Nature provides a bear - and humankind too - with everything it needs.

We have already discussed my boyhood (and manhood)  obsession for Julie Andrews so it is not a super shock that she appears on this list twice.  "My Favorite Things" is great for a myriad of reasons: I do not even like Christmas and it is my favorite "Christmas" song, it is absolutely responsible for my love of the word schnitzel, and whenever I think of Julie Andrews "I don't feeeel sooo baaaaad!"  But seriously, 20th Century Fox's historic, award-winning 1965 screen adaptation of the musical, "The Sound of Music," is based upon a very true, very inspirational story and they could not have picked a more quintessential actress to portray such a heroic woman.  She fought oppression with just "The Sound of Music," that's the definition of badass.

A lot of things in life probably can be traced back to a Disney movie.  At this point you're probably thinking: "maybe you should stop taking advice from Disney."  Hey, "The Little Mermaid" was only released in 1989 I was still very naive and impressionable.  You can debate whether "Kiss the Girl" is Disney's greatest love song or not, but you do learn two critical points.  First, if you wanna get the girl you have to "create the mood."  Second, haters gonna hate - beware of cock-blockers.  "The Little Mermaid" also teaches us other valuable lessons: when negotiating a contract have a lawyer present, avoided crappy one-sided deals, and don't make stupid decisions to bail your children out of their mistakes - they learn nothing in the end and the rest of your family suffers.

Either Disney is hit and miss with positive messages or I was hit and miss with interpreting them but all I got out of 1992's "Aladdin" is that it pays to have powerful allies and chicks dig guys who can take them on magic carpet rides.  *shrug*  To this day the lack of personal flying conveyances irks me.  We got Segways, but no hover-cars  Bogus!  Anyway, the second contender for greatest love song has to be "A Whole New World," immortalized by the incomparable Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle.

To my credit I have never tried winning anyone over by first imprisoning her father, then ransoming him in exchange for her, holding her hostage isolated from all human contact, and subjecting her to systematic psychological torture for an indefinite amount of time until she develops Stockholm Syndrome.  All I can say is that in 1756, when La Belle et la BĂȘte was written, no did not mean no and courting rituals were obviously much different than today.  I am guessing we were not suppose to notice all that but rather we were suppose to witness how the power of compassion and forgiveness can allow anyone, even the most hideous monster, to change.  Released in 1991 "Beauty and the Beast" is probably one of, if not Disney's greatest love stories.  In turn the movie's namesake, "Beauty and the Beast," that marks the moment when Belle goes from somewhat-unwilling-hostage to desirous-and-wanting-it hostage is a masterpiece of the movie and possibly the greatest love song in Disney movie history.

From the first notes of music, the first frames, of "The Lion King" you knew this was going to be an amazing movie.  "Circle of Life" (Sir Elton John Cover) was the the perfect way to begin a story about the ups and downs of life, facing that which frightens us the most, coming to terms with our past, personal redemption, self forgiveness, and boldly moving on into the future as life comes full circle.

"Can you Feel the Love Tonight" from "The Lion King," is where we really start learning stuff.  If you are giving a girl the creepy guy vibe because you are acting insecure about something you do not really need to be hiding in the first place, ease the tension by trying to drown her - chicks really like getting their hair, makeup and outfits wet anyway.  If you have executed the first part right, she's going to pretend to try to "escape," but that's O.K., this will lead right into some very frisky foreplay.  The admonition to ask your doctor if you are healthy enough for sexual activity is no joke as  foreplay should include a long chase ending with UFC MMA-style striking and grappling - better hope she does not Tazer you bro.  If a girl licks your face it means you won and she definitely likes you.  If she looks at you like she wants to eat you, she probably wants to do it (rub cheeks and necks with you) or it could mean she is going to knee you in the junk when you let her up -  be careful, been fooled here many a times before.  Painful.  Finally, as we learned in "The Little Mermaid" someone is always trying to stop you from rubbing cheeks and necks with the girl.  Therefore, when you are ready for a committed long-term relationship you might want to consider trading your single friends for married friends.  Your old friends could either get you into trouble or save you from a pack of ravenous, wild hyenas - it is a toss up.  If you have managed to win your girl's heart, avoid prison, keep your friends, not get eaten by hyena's, and avenge the death of your father - hurrah! Thank Sir Elton John, Tim Rice, and the writers and directors of "The Lion King" for providing you with the blueprint.  If you failed, hopefully you can watch the movie again in prison to figure out where you went wrong.

I cannot believe I almost forgot this one.  By this time, my cynicism and skepticism had already begun to set, but in 1996-1997 there was not a man, woman, or child who did not believe he or she could fly.  As uninspiring as Warner Bros. 1996 Live-action/Animated release "Space Jam" was it did inspire singer/songwriter R. Kelly to produce "I Believe I Can Fly," one of the most inspirational songs of his career.  That is saying something for a man whose anthology has no shortage of inspiring ditties.

I felt it fitting to end this journey where it began for me, with "When You Wish Upon A Star" from Walt Disney's 1940 "Pinocchio."  It is not the chronological beginning but the ideological and spiritual beginning.  If you do not understand what I mean then you have never seen "Pinocchio," you have never heard the song, you are not a human being, or you missed out on a wonderful childhood.

When I started putting together together the music for this post, I just wanted a happy, free-spirited, nostalgic break from all the strife and animosity of the last several weeks.  As I got to the end, thinking about all those wonderful pieces of artwork I watched as a child I started reflecting on all the life lessons I picked up through them.  I learned that character meant something.  I learned to believe in myself, to be honest, to care about my fellow others, and to aspire to achieve my dreams.  These films showed me the world could be a good place if we do not allow our passions to overrule our reason.  I thought how wonderful it would be if all children could have this experience in their formative years; and then an immense feeling of sadness came over me.  I realized there are little children who will never have their imaginations stoked and young adults cut off in their prime who will never build on their dreams.  Somewhere out there are families for whom my fond memories are just bitter reminders of how one day, someone tore their world apart.

The Journey is not over.  I forgot one song.  The song for the lost, but the not forgotten.  The one for those who never got to be what they wanted to be when they grew up, because they never grew up.  The one for those who finished walking the path too soon, but still inspired us nevertheless:
To the 19 murdered and 32 harmed August 1, 1966 at or near The University of Texas
To the 4 killed and 28 injured by police in Orangeburg, SC on February 8, 1968
To the 4 slain and 9 wounded by soldiers at the Kent State Massacre on May 4, 1970
To the 2 killed and the 12 injured by police at Jackson State on May 15, 1970 
To the 6 adults and 5 children of MOVE who perished in a fire that consumed 65 nearby homes when police dropped a bomb on their home from a helicopter and fired upon them as they tried to escape on May 13, 1985
To Randy Weaver who lost his wife, teenage son, and nearly his infant daughter when in defiance of tyranny while exercising his freedom of religion, freedom of speech, right to bear arms, freedom against unlawful search and seizure, and right to due process under the law, federal agents violated all these by ambushing and slaughtering his family at their retreat on Ruby Ridge in August of 1992 - bringing about the very apocalypse his wife feared
To the 54 adults and 28 children sacrificed on the alter of government oppression during the horrendous Waco siege, which ended on April 19, 1993
To the 4 young girls and the teacher murdered March 24, 1998 at Westside Middle School
To the 13 youths and administrators murdered and the 21 others harmed April 20, 1999 at Columbine High School
To Norman Wallace, who lost his life, and the two others harmed May 9, 2003 at Case Western Reserve University when an alumnus engaged police in a 7-hour long battle
To the 5 Amish schoolgirls murdered and 5 maimed October 2, 2006 in Bart Township, PA
To the 32 murdered and the 17 harmed April 16, 2007 at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA
To the 5 murdered and 17 harmed February 14, 2008 at Northern Illinois University
To the 14 murdered and 29 harmed November 2, 2009 at Fort Hood, Texas
To the 13 murdered and 58 harmed July 20, 2012 in Aurora, Colorado
To the 27 murdered and 2 harmed December 14, 2012 at or near Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut
I know that one day we as a united people we will say "never again will a young life be cut short when it is just beginning."  I know we can accomplish this without sacrificing our liberty by working together in a spirit of love and brotherhood, this is a lesson from my childhood I know to to be truth. I now bear the fruit of seeds planted in my childhood, watered in my youth, pruned in my young adulthood, and now being tested as a man.  To all you lost souls, I swear to finish the journey for you.  I ask that you guide my pen from wherever you may be and know that my crusade is not merely for the freedoms of the living, but also for the memory of the passed.  From wherever you are look down and know that: yes, I will be there.

"Will You Be There" by Michael Jackson, inspired by "Free Willy," Warner Bros. 1993

Please feel free to share your comments.  Let me know what moved you as a child or adult! You can comment here or at The Office of R. Conrad Bane on Facebook.  If you would like to support the cause of liberty and the spread of truth, click on any of the above links and bring those timeless family classics into your home.  You will not regret it!

No comments:

Facebook Blogger Plugin: Bloggerized by Enhanced by

Post a Comment