Last week, we took a look at five phenomenal songs that are often left out of the conversation when it comes to Disney’s best musical achievements. But one post was never going to be big enough when it comes to Disney’s hidden musical gems. So, this week we’re diving into five more.
Bright Little Star
One of the best musical experiences at Walt Disney World is hiding in plain sight at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe in Tomorrowland. That’s where you’ll find the biggest little star in the galaxy, and his name is Sonny Eclipse. He’s a swank, swinging alien who serves as the entertainment at the restaurant, performing songs and engaging in witty banter between numbers.
Honestly, I could have picked any of his songs and been happy with the selection. “Hello, Space Angels,” is a catchy ditty that hearkens back to the age of doo wop, while “Yew Nork, Yew Nork” feels like it could be crooned by Tom Jones or Tony Bennett. But for my money, “Bright Little Star” is the standout. It’s a beautiful love song with an infectious melody.
The voice of Sonny Eclipse was provided by Kal David, while Imagineer Kevin Rafferty and composer George Wilkins wrote the music and lyrics. As Rafferty noted in his memoir, ““George Wilkins and I wrote eight original songs for the character. I thought it would be fun for Sonny to sing different types of music, from ballads to rock to blues to “Bossa Super Nova” so we wrote in all those styles. I penned the lyrics and jokes to reflect Sonny’s outer space perspective.”
(1) Sonny Eclipse – Bright Little Star – YouTube
Little Wonders (Meet the Robinsons)
One of the best “forgotten gems” in Disney music comes from one of the biggest forgotten gems in Disney film. The movie is 2007’s Meet the Robinsons, which was based on the children’s picture book “A Day with Wilbur Robinson” by William Joyce.
The movie included the song “Little Wonders” by Rob Thomas (best known as the front man for Matchbox 20). It’s a piece of polished pop perfection that can drag tears from the stoniest of hearts.
According to Thomas, the song was written about his dog Tyler, a fact he noted on his Facebook page in 2017. In concerts he often told the story about the song’s inspiration stating, “My dog, like a lot of dogs I know, knew more about life than I did at certain times…There are so many times where you’re walking along and you’re taking them out for a walk and you’re miserable because it’s cold or something. And they look up at you as happy as they can possibly be, and they let you know that you’re missing a moment. Right there.”
(1) Meet The Robinsons – Little Wonders (HD) By Rob Thomas – YouTube
Goodbye May Seem Forever (The Fox and the Hound)
I promise that I’m not trying to include an excess of tear jerkers. Really. But if you’re going to listen to this song, you probably need to get a hankie ready.
“Goodbye May Seem Forever” was written by Richard Rich (music) and Jeffrey C. Patch (lyrics) for Disney’s 1981 animated film The Fox and the Hound. The movie was based off of the novel of the same name by Daniel P. Mannix.
In the film, the song is performed by actress Jeanette Nolan, best known for her performances in television shows like “The Virginian.” In The Fox and the Hound, Nolan provided the voice for the character of the Widow Tweed, the adopted mother of the orphaned fox Tod. The song is sung as she brings Tod to a wildlife preserve to set him free in the wild.
It’s heart wrenching and beautiful.
(1) The Fox and the Hound (1981) – Good bye May Seem Forever – YouTube
Follow Me, Boys! (Follow Me, Boys!)
Perhaps it was the influence of their father Al Sherman, whose career was spent penning songs on Tin Pan Alley, but it seems that every song written by the Richard and Robert Sherman is catchy and endlessly singable. “Follow Me, Boys!” from the 1966 live action film of the same name, was penned by the Shermans and is sung by Fred MacMurry and the members of his scout troop.
One thing that makes it somewhat unique among Sherman brothers songs, is that it is a marching song (though not their only “military” style song, as we can’t forget “Colonel Hathi’s March” in The Jungle Book). In the film, MacMurray’s character, Lemuel Simmons, is a jazz saxophonist who decides to settle down in a small town. Along the way, he becomes the leader of a Boy Scout troop. He introduces the song, “Follow Me, Boys!” to his scouts and explains that it was a song he sang in the military while stationed in France.
It’s a peppy, up-tempo piece that shares all of the stick-to-it-iveness and optimism that one expects from a song by the Shermans, as well as capturing the sense of cheerful resilience championed by Walt Disney.
The song became a popular scouting song, and the Boy Scouts of America even considered adopting it as their official anthem, though the efforts were eventually abandoned.
(1) Follow Me Boys Marching Song – YouTube
Flitterin’ (Summer Magic)
We’ll end our list with a number that appears in both Disney film and the parks (although in instrumental form). The song is “Flitterin’” from the 1963 musical Summer Magic, starring Hayley Mills, Burl Ives, and Dorothy McGuire.
It should come as no surprise that this number was also penned by the Sherman Brothers. Wherever you turn in the wide world of Disney, it seems you come across their delightful melodies. The songs for Summer Magic were assigned to the Shermans by Walt as a method of testing if they’d be able to carry the music for a large scale production (such as Mary Poppins, which would be released a year later). Their compositions for Summer Magic passed with flying colors, as the duo crafted a number of catchy songs that were pure Americana.
Today, the song can be heard in instrumental version on Main Street U.S.A. and on the “Walt Disney World Official Album” released in 2013.