Though I've haven't forgiven him and his brother for that treacly hymn to cultural homogenization and globalization - Its A Small World After All - the musical delights that composer Robert B Sherman (who died yesterday) and his younger brother Richard gave us as "house" song writers for Walt Disney were part of my early years.
Their score for Mary Poppins has found a new audience since the movie was adapted for the stage in 2004, 40 years after its cinematic incarnation. But nothing will ever beat the original - pax Dick Van Dyke's horrendous idea of a cockney accent - with Julie Andrews at her most winsome and the Disney Studio animators at their best. And according to Sherman it took them two weeks to come up with Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious - as if a word like that could be made up!!!! But what is remarkable - aside from that word that is now part of our everyday lexicon - is how they managed to make the song sound like a Music Hall standard that had been around for years.
One of my favourite Sherman Brothers songs was from a film a year earlier - Summer Magic released in 1963. I saw it four times and played the record until it was worn down. I had a crush on Hayley Mills and it didn't hurt that it featured Peter Brown (sigh - he of the tight cream pants) from The Lawman, who I will admit I had an even bigger crush on! It was one of those Disney movies that conjured up an early America that sadly only existed in Walt and script writer Sally Benson's (of Meet Me in St Louis fame) minds. One of hearts broken but quickly mended, crotchety ladies (the wonderful Una Merkel) with hearts of gold, loving and lovely mothers (the beautiful Dorothy McGuire) and avuncular uncles who not only knew how to sing like Burl Ives but were in fact Ives himself. And Richard Sherman always claimed this was his personal favourite amongst the many songs that filled their catalogue.
Again the Sherman's captured the spirit of an epoch with a fidelity and seeming ease that belie their remarkable talents as song writers.
Given their prodigious output it comes as no surprise that the two brothers were working on a new movie score for a 2013 release at the time of Robert's death.
06 March - 321 AD: Emperor Constantine I decrees that the dies Solis Invicti (sun-day) is the day of rest in the Empire.