Hey, kids, welcome to the Phile for a Sunday. How are you? Let's start off with a story about a situation on a plane... A Delta Airlines flight attendant broke a wine bottle over a passenger's head after the man tried to open an exit door and fought with other passengers during a flight from Seattle to Beijing on Thursday, the AP reports. According to a probable cause statement written by an FBI agent, the passenger, 23-year-old Joseph Daniel Hudek of Tampa, Florida was seated in first class on the flight. About an hour after takeoff, when the plane was over the Pacific Ocean, Hudek went into the restroom at the front of the plane. He apparently came out quickly, asked a flight attendant a question, and then went back in. When he exited the restroom again two minutes later, Hudek lunged for the plane's exit door, grabbed the handle, and tried to open it, the agent wrote. Two flight attendants grabbed Hudek, but he pushed them away. The attendants got help from several other passengers and notified the cockpit by telephone. During the incident, Hudek punched a flight attendant in the face and hit at least one other passenger in the head with a bottle of wine. That's when a flight attendant grabbed two bottles of wine and hit Hudek over the head with both of them, breaking at least one, but Hudek reportedly wasn't fazed by it. Eventually, the AP reports, passengers and flight attendants were able to contain Hudek with zip-tie restraints. The flight turned back to Seattle, where Hudek was taken into custody. Hudek appeared in U.S. District Court on Friday, where he was charged with interfering with a flight crew. He could face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, the AP reports. He has a detention hearing scheduled on July 13th. The disrupted flight did take off for Beijing again later on Thursday night. Yeesh. At least the other people on the flight will have an interesting vacation anecdote to share at the office next week.
A police call to break up the homemade slip-n-slide at a local Fourth of July block party in Asheville, North Carolina, didn't go the way the complainant planned. Instead of ruining the kids' fun by demanding they take down the ride, the cops who showed up wanted to give it a try. Katlen Joyce Smith told CNN that a local dad built the slide, which evidently prompted a neighbor to call the authorities, saying that it was blocking the street. "When the police came, they quickly realized that wasn't the case and asked if they could take a turn," Smith said. While Officer Carrie Lee was especially jazzed to hit the slope, Officer Joe Jones was content to just watch. "I thought I was going to be able to get out of it, because I'm too big to fit in a trash bag," he said. "But then when the kids pulled out this big raft... I had no choice." America, y'all.
It looks like Ivanka Trump isn't trying so hard "stay out of politics" anymore. Ivanka reportedly accompanied Donald Trump to a G20 meeting about African migration and health yesterday, and then briefly took her dad's place when he stepped out. According to the BBC, when Donald Trump stepped out to attend another meeting with a leader from Indonesia. In his absence, Ivanka took his seat at a table with British prime minister Theresa May, Chinese president Xi Jinping, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. A photo of Ivanka sitting at the table was taken by a Russian attendee, who tweeted and later deleted it. But, social media had already gotten wind of it, and it quickly made the rounds on Twitter. According to the BBC, it's common for world leaders to step out of these meetings to attend others, but they'll typically have a high-ranking official sit in for them.While Ivanka is one of the president's advisers, the photo of her sitting among some of the most powerful people in the world sparked some backlash. The BBC reports that Ivanka didn't make any major contribution to the meeting, and that her father did come back to take his seat a short while later. Guess we're going to have to add Take Your Daughter to the G20 Summit Day to the calendar of national holidays.
Sam, this is a story for you... Have you watched the "Sesame Street" remake of the classic Beastie Boys’ "Sabotage" music video yet? File this under things we never knew we needed in our lives, but now that we’ve seen it, how did we ever live without it? When worlds collide perfectly... this mashup from Mylo the Cat (Adam Schleichkorn) pairs footage from the 1985 "Sesame Street" film "Follow That Bird" and the Beastie Boys’ 1994 hit. Back in the day, the "Sabotage" music video, directed by Spike Jonze, spoofed ‘70s crime dramas brilliantly. You wouldn’t think "Sabotage" and the Sesame Street Muppets could fit together in any universe, until you watch. Mylo the Cat previously created mashups of Sesame Street characters and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony's "Tha Crossroads,” as well as The Beastie Boys' “So What’cha Want.” Schleichkorn noted in the YouTube video’s description: "The original 'Sabotage' music video is without a doubt, one of the greatest of all time. So I knew I couldn't do a regular old lip sync video, I had to bring it! RIP MCA." I have to show you a screenshot...
Mike Pence toured NASA's Kennedy Space Center on Thursday, and he just couldn't keep his hands to himself. Look at the photo below. You'll notice a sign that says "DO NOT TOUCH" in capital letters, adorning something marked as "critical space flight hardware." Then you'll notice Mike Pence's veiny white hand, touching.
"Mother," aka the nickname Mike Pence has for his wife, wouldn't approve of this brazen rule breaking. After all, Pence has two strict directives: "he never eats alone with a woman other than his wife and... he won’t attend events featuring alcohol without her by his side, either." If he'll break the touching rule, who knows what kind of lunch shenanigans he'll get into next? Suddenly I understand why he won't have dinner with a woman who isn't his wife.
Hey, it's Sunday... I should be listening to this album instead of doing this blog...
I wonder if I can get Neil to be a guest on the Phile. So, President Trump finally met Putin the other day and I have the exclusive photo of the meeting...
Hahahahaha. So, Disney, he greatest company to work for ever, is making a live-action Lion King movie and I have a an exclusive first look at it. Check it out, kids...
I wonder what the budget is for this movie. Speaking of Disney, I wonder of Richard Sherman knows they updated the Carousel of Progress for the new generation? Check it out...
Hahahahaha. If you go to the beach during the summer I hope you don't run into this person...
Do you kids like Taco Bell? did you see their new slogan?
Ever run into celebrity and what you are wearing makes it a coincidence? Check this out...
Okay, if you are thinking about cheating on your loved one I hope this pic makes you change your mind...
Okay, it's summer and I once again I am showing you different bathing suits or bikinis you can get to wear to the beach or pool. Like this one for instance...
The Loong (yes, that's how it's spelled, with two o's) Sleeve Bikini Set by Amir Slama confusingly covers up the entirety of one of your arms with a giant bell sleeve and is made of a denim-like fabric. What if a fish swims up there? Will the sleeve weight you down if you try to swim? I have so many questions! Alright, now from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York here is...
Phive Top Things Trump And Putin Agreed Or Disagreed About Their Meeting
5. If Trump uses any more WWE footage to make memes, he cannot show any in which he dominates Nikolai Volkoff. Agreed.
4. Which Property Brother is cuter. Disagreed.
3. Russian prostitutes are among the best on the world! Agreed.
2. Whether physical or emotional intimidation is a more effective negotiating tactic. Disagreed.
And the number one thing Trump and Putin agreed or disagreed about their meeting was...
1. That it will be harder in 2020 to hack and swing the election in Trump's favor, but still doable. Agreed.
Hahaha. If you spot the Mindphuck let me know. So, the other day my son and I were talking about how we used to watch "Sesame Street" together and how much that show has changed. So, née again here is the pheature...
Bert is shocked to hear where Ernie has hidden a dollar's worth of apples.
Are you a lazy person? If so, I bet you're not as lazy as the person who did this...
Haha. Lazy git.
It's time to talk Trump in a pheature I call...
In the midst of being investigated for his entanglements with Russia, President Donald Trump greeted President Vladimir Putin with a smile and a back rub. Yes, the Trump-Putin handshake was as awkward as Donald's usual hand-to-hand combat with world leaders, but it was awkward for a completely different reason. Rather than go for his usual bravado-filled arm-tugging, Trump gracefully rubbed Putin and patted him on the back. It really was a love-fest. Trump said, "it's an honor to be with you," and nothing about that "hostile foreign power having run a successful campaign to undermine democracy all-the-while annexing Ukraine and killing journalists and gay people" stuff.
Hahaha. Hey, you want a quick laugh?
A newly appointed young preacher was contacted by the local funeral director to hold a graveside committal service at a small country cemetery in Iowa. There was to be no funeral, just the committal, because the deceased had no family or friends left in Iowa. The young pastor started early to the cemetery, but soon lost his way. After making several wrong turns, he finally arrived a half-hour late. The hearse was no where in sight, and the workmen were relaxing under a nearby tree, eating their lunch. The pastor went to the open grave and found that the vault lid was already in place. He took out his book and read the service in its entirety. As he returned to his car, he overheard one of the workmen say: "Maybe we'd better tell him that's the septic tank."
The 62nd book to be pheatured in the Phile's book club is...
The author Laura James will be a guest on the Phile tomorrow.
This is so cool! Today's guest is an American songwriter who specialized in musical films with his brother Robert Bernard Sherman. According to the official Walt Disney Company website and independent fact checkers, "the Sherman Brothers were responsible for more motion picture musical song scores than any other songwriting team in film history." Some of the Sherman Brothers' best known songs were incorporated into live action and animation musical films including: Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and Bedknobs and Broomsticks. Their most well known work, however, remains the theme park song "It's a Small World (After All)". According to "Time," this song is the most performed song of all time. The great album "Songbook" by The Sherman Brothers is available on iTunes and Amazon. Please welcome to the Phile, the great... Robert M. Sherman!
Me: Hello, sir, welcome to the Phile. It's just an honor to have to here.
Richard: Hello, Jason. I'm happy to do this for you. It's so impressive, I saw a lot of your writing on your blog, what do you call it?
Me: The Peverett Phile.
Richard: Yes, the Peverett Phile. It looks terrific and very impressive.
Me: I would't say it's impressive, but thank you.
Richard: You work for the Disney company?
Me: Yep, for almost thirty years. Twenty-three of them at Epcot, three weeks at the Magic Kingdom and now at Disney's Hollywood Studios.
Richard: That's great.
Me: Richard, I heard there's a documentary about you and your brother called "The Boys: The Sherman Brothers' Story" which I have not seen. Is it good? Were you happy the way it came out?
Richard: Sure. My son Greg and my brother's son Jeff put it together and they worked very hard on it for a long time and I was very impressed. It's a tough thing to look at the truth sometimes. Many of times people sugar coat things but people have to learn how to live with each other and Bob and I did that. We did that for years and we have different personalities. I was the extrovert, he was the introvert so it was always a kind of a bit of a struggle we got together on the song writing. We closed the door, the whole world fell away and it was just us and the property at hand.
Me: Do you think that kind of attention played a role to your songwriting team?
Richard: I don't think it played a role to the success but I think the fact that we came to the same subject from different angles helped a lot because we had a different attitude about things. I think that part of our collaboration was very interesting because we never got to sugary, we never got to salty, it was always in between. When you have two people that think identically all the time there isn't to much friction, no sparks happen and it becomes very blah. You don't want to do blah when you're a writer, you know that.
Me: Oh, I think this blog is very blah. Hahaha.
Richard: You have to do something that cuts through the competition of course.
Me: Sir, you and I have something in common... my dad was a successful songwriter in the band Foghat and your father was a successful songwriter. Am I right?
Richard: Yes, in the 20s, 30s and early 40s he was very active and prolific and he wrote a lot of successful songs and he was a wonderful, wonderful man. He was a sweet heart and a wonderful guy. He was the one that put us together as a team. He was the one who said together we could make it and he was right. He was very smart man.
Me: Did you learn any practical skills about songwriting from your father like piano skills or anything?
Richard: Not necessarily. I think a lot of that is your ear and your heart and you listen. For example, my greatest teachers, though I never met them, were writers of heart... Noel Coward and Cole Porter and Rogers and Hammerstein... all these people and great writers who wrote in the past were part of my life and childhood. I grew up with this sort of stuff and I could hear wonderful songs and I stopped listening and tried to write my own style. It was that kind of approach where it's not just "moon June I love you, I Iost you, I miss you" ordinary songs. I like to write special things. Bob and I were blessed to be on staff at Walt Disney Studios where every time we wrote we were writing for an assignment... a story that was already created. We were writing songs for Winnie the Pooh, The Jungle Book and obviously Mary Poppins, and all those wonderful assignments.
Me: A lot of people know you from those musicals and things but some people might not know you from a number of pop hits like "Tall Paul," "You're Sixteen"...
Richard: Oh, yes, that's true but you have to remember, in my opinion, the hardest thing in the world is sit in a room with no story, no characters, no problem and write a song and make it a hit and successful. It's so much easier when you have a story line and characters and problems, and group of personalities you can work with but when you have nothing at all and you're in a room writing a song it's the hardest thing in the world to write a good song. Bob and I used to slave coming up with a subject people haven't written already. We were pop song writers and all of a sudden we were given these assignments there was this while series of "buttons you can press" already. If the story took place in 1813 you can write a style like that, if it took place in 1912 you can write like that... the character, he's a murderer and he's running away you have a problem to write about. This woman is falling in love with a sailor and he's off to war or something you can write about that. You have things to work with. But sitting in a room with nothing is the hardest thing. I admire great song writers who sit there with no challenges, no books, no character to work with. And they come up with a hit song, that's the biggest challenge of all.
Me: Your pop songs and the song "Let's Get Together" from "The Parent Trap," are very similar, am I right?
Richard: Let me tell you something... I learnt how to write rock and roll by listening to the great song writers like "Yakkity Yak" by Leiber and Stoller, I was listening to that. I heard the beats and the style and limitations of chords... they didn't get too fancy with the chords. I learned how to do that because my heroes who I said earlier were the great song writers of shows. Irving Berlin was a great, great song writer. His stuff was brilliant and yet very, very simple. He was very inventive. I think you have to have to be able to hand loose write in every direction. I didn't worry to much about to much what I was doing, I just immersed myself in the period that I was working with. The Mary Poppins score took place in 1910, it's an English style called Musical Hall. Those wonderful old Cockney songs, I leaned this songs, I loved those songs.
Me: So much of the language and style in Mary Poppins is very British, as it should be. You're not British, so how much research did you do on England?
Richard: My brother and I were a big fan of London and the U.K. and and loved Noel Coward who was so brilliant and witty and funny. The English Music Hall style really got to me, and the vaudeville style is what intrigued me. I felt very comfortable with it and very inspiring to work with that style. Of course I've written a lot of things that were pure Americana, in fact, a great writer named Rudyard Kipling wrote a great novel called "The Jungle Book" and we did it with American jazz.
Me: Yeah, I always wondered about that. That's one of my favorite Disney movies and soundtracks and you'd think it would have jungle music, not jazz music. Whose crazy idea was that?
Richard: That was Walt's idea. He said, "I want you to do a fun picture using the same story but don't tell it in a serious grim way, tell it in a Disney way." So we had a chance to do some things with it.
Me: Back to Mary Poppins, it is very English, except for Dick Van Dyke's accent. Haha. I'm English, but in England we don't say "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" or "chin chin cheree."
Richard: Bob and I would talk over every word in every song. We always had a good time writing these things because we were writing for adults. These were not kids songs, kids love them and they sing them and everything but they don't realize that "feed the birds tuppence a bag" has very little to do with bread crumbs. It has a hell of a lot to do about being kind and loving... think about the people around you that need you and that's what it says. It doesn't take much to do a kind gesture. The same thing with "A Spoonful of Sugar"... it has nothing to do with the sugar commodity, it has to do with a happy attitude, a warm attitude making a tough job easy. Things like that Bob and I tried to say something under the surface.
Me: Yeah, but you made up a lot of your own words, right?
Richard: That was just a fun thing that we liked to do. We were working on Chitty Chitty Bang Bang which was a fun project. Again an English project, and we came across a line "It's uncategorical a fuel burning oracle" and that was great as we were talking about a car and the car knew where to go so it was an oracle... uncategorical, that sounded like a great word. We had fantasmicgorical... I mean it just sounds good. We just made up words that felt good and people understood them. We didn't do it to be smart alec's, we did it because it felt good.
Me: As a kid I thought those words were real. Do you hear other people say that?
Richard: Well, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious is real... it's in the dictionary now. We always thought kids would find out what they meant and adults would get a kick out of it.
Me: It is? I need to look that up. There's so much joy in those Mary Poppins songs, sir. Was it a lot of fun working on them or more like hard work?
Richard: Oh no, we worked very hard but it was not hard work if you follow what I'm saying. You write something and you enjoy it. We had a good time when we were writing it. When we knew we had a good line, oh my God, we were jumping up and down. We had very strong feelings about that. Mary Poppins was a very big challenge to us because it was the very first time we were given the challenge to do a musical score with a song here and there. It was a very big thing and Walt Disney had faith in us and he said I think you guys could do it. He gave us the book and said get to work. Haha. It was a joyous experience and we worked very hard and a long time on it and I think it was the doorway to our future because up until then we were pop song writers and now we were writing songs for Disney pictures. He gave us this whole job to do. After that we got the chance to do these other pictures.
Me: I love this pic of you and your brother and Walt...
Me: I have to ask you about the song "I Love To Laugh." Did you and Bob perform all the styles of laughing there or did you just let the actors fill in those laughters?
Richard: We figured it all out. I'm the ham, Bob didn't sing much, I'm the one who really sang. I would do all the parts. In fact I even made a record of it. A funny story about "I Love to Laugh." We had a good singer to do the second album. The first album was Ed Wynn who played Uncle Albert but in the second cast album which was a lower price that was made, we had a singer come in to perform the part of Uncle Albert and he sang the notes very nice but he didn't have the craziness, the spirit. He knew to much about singing but he was not getting it so the musical director of this session said go in there and show him what you want him to do. So I went into the booth and the band was there and I said let's just make one like that. In one take I I sang "I Love To Laugh," throwing myself into it. The music director said, "That's the take." So I was the guy on the record.
Me: Cool! "Feed the Birds" to me is such a nice, beautiful song, and kinda sad. Do you think so?
Richard: We were given this book by Mrs. Travers about the stories of "Mary Poppins" and there's no smooth story line. There are wonderful episodes, little chapters that have adventures with Mary Poppins. She flies in on the east wind and flies out on the west wind and that's all it is. She doesn't really have a reason for being there but she has these wonderful adventures. So, Bob and I when we were handed this book said we got to come up with a reason and so we said after a lot of discussion that the family is in turmoil and were going into different directions. The dad was busy at the bank, he doesn't have time for the kids, the mother has a suffragette movement that she is a part of of. We were giving reasons for Mary Poppins to come. She was giving these life lessons like feed the birds and all these things... spoonfuls of sugar and summer holidays, and all these wonderful adventures that she brings to the kids and to the family so that the family is united at the end. The father says, "let's go out and fly the kite." He thinks he lost his job, they go out and find the kite that he fixed. All these little things are things that he injected into the story and the reason that we injected it in because Walt said we had to have a theme. The theme is right here, in feed the birds tuppence a bag. It doesn't take much, all you have to do is take time out with the kids. They all go out and are united and at the end of the thing Mary flies away and they are busy flying their kite as a happy, united family. That's it. "Feed the Birds" said it all without saying one word about it. When we played that song for Walt Disney he said, "That's the key to the whole idea, isn' it?" That was the day he said, "How would you like to be on the permanent staff with me at the studio?" We said, "Yes, my God, we would love that." So we became his writers. For about ten years we wrote everything that came down the pike with him, So, to answer your question, no it's not sad, Jason.
Me: What was it like to hearing something at the piano and then hearing the final version with all the instruments and singers?
Richard: Oh, first we had this wonderful and masterful arranger and conducter called Irwin Kostal and Irwin Kostal did a lot of Broadway shows and he did a lot of television. We were instrumental in getting him to come out to the studio to work on our picture. We knew this was our big break and we wanted a man of his caliber who could capture and feel of 1910 England with his music. He could expand on it which he did.
Me: Did you do all this work from your office at Disney, is that right?
Richard: Yeah, we had offices right at Disney and that's where worked all the time.
Me: Did you have regular office hours for that whole time when you were there?
Richard: Yes, we came in not to early in the morning after the crowd and then we worked later. We missed the rush of in and out of all the cars but we pretty much were our own bosses. We worked on a lot of pictures... we have done about fifty pictures with television and motion pictures for years. It was always work and we always had something to do. We didn't just work on Poppins because we had a lot of other things. It was a back burner... for three years we were working on it for off and on because we were pulled off to work on a different picture. we had to do songs for the World's Fair so we were always working on something. It was just not Poppins and Bedknobs and Broomsticks.
Me: You said you and Bob were different... my sisters and I are different as well and I don't think we could ever work together. How did you and Bob work together?
Richard: It was kind of like we would sit in a room and talk about it mostly, not at the piano. We would talk about it and see what we were going to write. Usually we tried to come up with a title or a hook and that hook would get it started. Many of times we would discuss it and think it'll be nice to do a little soft, gentle ballad here so I'd play a few chords and Bob would say, "Nah, what about this?" We would spark other and all of a sudden get what we thought would be a good idea. Usually these ideas came out of discussion. A perfect example of that was a song we needed to put the children to sleep with. And we knew Mary Poppins did what you never expected. She slid up bannisters, she didn't walk up the stairs... We said what of she wanted to put the childfren to sleep after they went to the jolly holiday sequence and they were to excited to go to bed. She says, "Very well, then, stay awake." So we wrote a lullaby called "Stay Awake" with every cliche turned on its ear. So we wrote, "stay awake, don't rest your head, don't lie upon your bed." She kept saying everything not to do and the kids fell to sleep to it. It was actually born out of the character. Mary Poppins sings "Spoonful of Sugar" and sometimes when you're writing you do the natural phrase, you sort of go down with the tune. But we said Mary Poppins wouldn't sing it that way. She sang up up every time she sang "down." That was the door, we got that. These are the things that came out of conversations.
Me: You wrote a lot of songs that were never used, right?
Richard: Oh, sure. When you're prolific and you're doing a lot of writing everything you write doesn't see the light of day. A lot of it winds up in the trunk as we called it. Many ideas you'd haven idea, a thought or a phrase, a lovely little tune it's not used or allotted. We did a lot of songs for Mary Poppins, writing sequences that were never filmed. So we had a lot of wonderful material and they found lives in other projects. One song we did for Mary Poppins was "The Beautiful Briny Sea." Mary Poppins takes the kids on an adventure and they end up under the ocean and we decided that same sequence would work on Bedknobs and Broomsticks. That song was now sang by Angela Lansbury seven years later in a different movie.
Me: Did you ever have any visual material to work with when you were writing the songs?
Richard: Oh, absolutely, the animators would always give is a great head start. With The Jungle Book for example we had a good idea what the ape King Louie looked like... and what the monkey's looked like. It was just so inspiring. I remember when we got the idea to write "I Wanna Be Like You." It all came out of a discussion. We were sitting in a room and our instructions were find the scariest scene and try to work fun with those scenes. The scariest chapters were when poor little Mogwli was captured by a band of marauding monkey's and taken to the king of the apes to give him the secret of fire. He wants to be like a man, he wants to create fire. It's a wonderful story and we were sitting in a room wondering what we were going to write for this king of the apes. The conversation went something like, "What does the ape do?" We were told he grunts so we thought what if we wrote a song where he grunts when he sings. We started with that theory and when the apes swings fro the tree we call him the king of the apes, let's call him the king of the swingers! We were off and running. We are going to have a wild crazy band with the monkey's being the band... before we wrote the song we knew what we were going to write. "I Wanna Be Like You" become a big hit. Haha.
Me: I have to talk about Winnie the Pooh... I didn't know you wrote those songs as well. Was it easy to write songs for those characters?
Richard: I think so. It's a combination of a lot of things, you discuss it all with your music director, tell them what you feel, what the instruments should be, what the tempo is. Everything has to feel right for the character. Those characters are as real as a live action actor. When we were working on "The Most Wonderful Thing About Tiggers" we knew Tigger was a bouncy little guy. There's no other way to write for Tigger than what we wrote. We also talked about Winnie the Pooh having a gentle personality so we wrote a song that matches that.
Me: I have to mention the songs you wrote for the theme parks as I'm wearing "There's a bright big beautiful tomorrow" t-shirt now. Is it another challenge together writing a song that you know is not going to be on a pop album or a musical but part of a theme park?
Richard: No, I wouldn't say so. You're still writing for a situation or a character. One of the beautiful things about working at Disney is we were given these marvelous assignments.
Me: Okay, so, I have to mention Disney's more scariest ride... "It's a Small World." Those singing kids... especially the French ones. Haha. How did that song come about?
Richard: Haha. So, here's an entire ride that was conceived already, saluting to the children of the world. It was sponsored by Unicef and was originally called Unicef Salutes the Children of the World. They had all these wonderful automatic dolls singing national anthems from twenty-five different countries. It was on paper a beautiful idea but in practicality it was as horrible as you can imagine. Five different bands playing twenty-five different songs. It was terrible. You couldn't do that in one room, it did not happen. The national anthem idea went out the window and Bob and I were called in as well as we were the staff writers and Walt said, "We got a problem here. I want you to write one song that is so simple it could be translated into other languages easily. So I want repetition and not only that I want it in such a way it could be played differently so that it had different instrumentation as you went from one place to another in the same key." All these little buzz notes were going around in our heads and we had to write something simple and yet say everything. We said, "Does it have to be Unicef's Salutes Children of the World? That's a mouthful and it's not very musical either." Hahaha. "No, just something that salutes the small children of the world. That's what it's all about. They're the hope for the future." Walt said. So, he gave us the clue. He said small children of the world and that's the hope of the future. So we thought let's write something that says all those things in words. We felt like it had to be a prayer for peace. Everybody goes through the same thing, everyone in the world has hopes and fears. So, it's a world of laughter, a world of tears, world of hopes, world of fears. And there's so much that we share it's a small world after all. Now those are the opening lines of the song and he said, "My God, that is a prayer for peace. Let's not blow each other up, let's learn to live together and respect each other. That's what we're saying without saying let's learn to live together and respect each other. It's a small world after all, you blockheads!" Hahaha. We just didn't say, "you blockheads" we just said, "it's a small world after all." When you stop and think about what those words say. It's a prayer for world peace. God knows that's what we were writing.
Me: Man, oh man, I could never hear that song the same way again. I kinda wish the children were singing "you blockheads." Hahaha. I have to talk about Chitty Chitty Bang Bang which wasn't a Disney movie. How long did it take to work on a project like that writing a collection of songs such as "Me Oi Bam-Boo," "Truly Scrumptious," "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang."
Richard: Well, you've done your homework. I have to tell you it is an interesting story... Cubby Broccoli the producer of the James Bond film's, had gotten the rights to the one Ian Fleming story that was not about 007. It was about a magic flying car. He actually wrote this story for his little boy who said, "Daddy, you write about these Laborgini's and Maserati's, why don't you write something about a car I would like?" So he created this magical flying car. Cubby was a great fan of not only Disney but an enormous fan of Mary Poppins. He loved the songs and wanted to do a quality picture with that kind of a feeling. He actually called Walt Disney and said can he produce a picture of an Ian Fleming story and Walt said no, but of you want to use the Sherman Brothers and you're interested I'll give them an out so they'll have some time to work with you. Walt was very considerate of us. This is seven or six years into our contract, we were Disney boys and Walt said Cubby Broccoli is really a respected guy and has a good idea for a film and it'll do you some good if you want to take some time of. We were like, jeez, thank you, we hadn't a clause to get out. Shortly after that Walt passed away but we were still full time employees of the studio and when Cubby wanted to do the picture we forced our leave, our clause, so we could leave for a period of time. For a period of a year we wrote the songs for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang although we only spent three months in England actually. That was a month and a half before and a month and a half in the recording and we rehearsed and everything. The songs were written over a period of time with a collaboration of Roald Dahl, a brilliant writer who had developed the Ian Fleming story into a full scale film. Basically the Ian Flaming story was very thin. It had the premise, it had the idea of a magical flying car, Caractacus Pott, the family and everything. It didn't have the love story, it didn't have the adventure in Bolgaria and all the rest of it. So that was all done by Roald Dahl. It was kind of a give or take... Roald came to America a couple of times and we went to England of course to work with him. And Ken Hughes, the director, we worked with him. The writing part took a year, producing it and everything. It was a giant hit in England I know that.
Me: It's one of my favorite movies when I was a kid. In fact, now I wanna see it again.
Richard: They had a wonderful stage version of it which we added about six songs for it. It was great joy to work for that story.
Me: I think you wrote about 200 songs in your years at Disney and we didn't talk about The Aristocats and Bedknobs and Broomsticks, etc. When you look back now what projects do you think best represent you as a songwriter?
Richard: Ummm, let's see now. Two of them I think we mentioned, I think Poppins and Chitty Chitty are huge successes. I think the songs we did in The Jungle Book and Winnie the Pooh are pretty good. I like the songs we did for a picture called The Happiest Millionaire. It wasn't a big hit but I loved the songs in it, it was romantic. And one of the best scores I think we ever done was called The Slipper and the Rose. It was a British film, a very beautiful picture starring Richard Chamberlain.
Me: I have recently downloaded your albums "Forgotten Dreams" and "Keys of Love."
Richard: Oh, thank you. You heard them?
Me: Of course. When you write instrumental music do you go through a different kind of process?
Richard: No, it all comes out of the brain, all music comes out the brain. It's all what you think. You being a creative man you know what I'm saying. You go in a mood, a style, a feel. When the first album came out everyone liked it and we got good reviews and everything. My producer said, "you gotta write another album." And I said okay, I'll think of something. So I thought of things I liked very much. Certain memories, places and people, and emotions and people I liked and cared about. I just thought about them and out comes the music. Each one is slightly different and not the same. I remember my wife and I spent a week or two in Tuscany in Italy and it was beautiful and the smells, food and the people and I remember the "Memories of Tuscany." It feels I am there when I play that thing. And "Russian Lullaby" ... my grandma used to say things to me and I thought about her and out came "Russian Lullaby." I don't now, I can't explain it. But that's the colors of my life.
Me: You seem pretty busy nowadays. Is there anything you are working on now that you'd like to mention?
Richard: Not really. The last thing I did was writing "Kiss Goodnight" for Disneyland's 60th Anniversary Nighttime Fireworks Spectacular show.
Me: Ahhh. Cool. Thanks so much for your time today, sir.
Richard: I very much appreciate it. You seem like a lovely guy and I wish you lots of luck in the future. All good things.
Me: Thank you so much. The Sherman Brothers provided the soundtrack to my childhood so... thank for donating your life to making great work.
Richard: Thank you so much. I feel so lucky as my lobby is my occupation. So I've been very lucky in that regard.
Me: Bye, sir. Please come back again one day.
If I never do another interview again I'd be happy. That was one of my favorite interviews ever. I could ask him so many more questions. Anyway, thanks to Richard for a fantastic supercalifragilisticexpialidocious interview. See what I did there? Haha. The Phile will be back tomorrow with author Laura James. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.
Not if it pleases me. No, you can't stop me, not if it pleases me. - Graham Parker