The iconic Sherman Brothers song “It’s a Small World” from the Disney Parks attraction of the same name was recently added to the National Recording Registry. This is only the second Disney song to join the prestigious list, along with “When You Wish Upon a Star.” This got me thinking: if I were a member of the National Recording Preservation Board, which other Disney Parks songs would I add to the list?
The criteria for a song to be added to the National Recording Registry is that the song must be “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant, and/or inform or reflect life in the United States.” There must also be a recording of the song to be considered, and no song is eligible until at least 10 years after its recording.
What I find interesting is that there’s no mention in the rules about a song needing to be popular or well-known by the masses. They are not necessarily considered to be the “best” recordings of all time, “but rather as works of enduring importance to American culture and, hence, in need of permanent preservation by either the Library of Congress or another qualified institution.”
With all of that in mind, here are a few Disney Parks songs that I believe fit the bill.
The first one that comes to mind is another Sherman Brothers tune, “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” from Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress. Not only is it my favorite Disney song, but it seems to fit the guidelines for becoming part of the registry. To me, the song “reflect(s) life in the United States.” The optimistic outlook on life the song’s lyrics reflect feels very American to me. From a young age, we’re told that we can be anything we want to be if we work hard for it, and that there really is a “great, big, beautiful tomorrow just a dream away.”
The particular lyrics that stand out to me are “Man has a dream and that’s the start. He follows his dream with mind and heart. And when it becomes a reality, it’s a dream come true for you and me.” Those lyrics are essentially “the American dream.”
The difficulty with this song selection is choosing the specific recording to include in the registry. My gut instinct would be to include the recording with the original voice of John – voiced by Rex Allen – singing the song. But part of me also feels like the simple recording with the Sherman Brothers at the piano with Walt Disney would also be a good choice.
Another song that is a bit more on the nose when it comes to the United States and Americana is “Golden Dream” from The American Adventure in Epcot. The music is by Bob Moline, with lyrics by Randy Bright. Not only is the melody stunningly gorgeous, but the lyrics once again reflect that sense of hope and optimism instilled in U.S. citizens from a young age. “Restless one in a world of change, keeping dreams aloft in the rain…America, you must keep dreaming now, dreaming the promised vow of your pioneers.”
In addition to these powerful lyrics, the official recording includes the voices of President John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., and more public figures speaking words of historic significance. If this song were to be inducted, I would go with the original attraction recording.
One of the qualifiers to be added to the Registry is that a song may be “aesthetically significant.” This descriptor largely comes down to opinion, but for me, when I hear the Jerry Goldsmith score from Soarin’ Over California it feels as patriotic as “Stars and Stripes Forever.” Perhaps this is just a personal feeling. One might argue that the score for Soarin’ doesn’t feel specifically American. I would argue the original recording does, as it doesn’t include the different instrumentations representing cultures from around the world as we hear in the Soarin’ Around the World version.
Overall, the Disney music library is massive, and I’m sure more songs will be added to the National Recording Registry in future years. Those are a few I would like to see added, but what Disney songs would you select? Leave a comment and let me know.
If you have any theme park topics you would like to hear my opinion on, let me know in the comments. You might just see it pop up in a future DePaoli on DeParks.
Jeff DePaoli is a producer and voiceover artist living in Los Angeles. He can be heard as the voice of Disney Trivia on Alexa as well as the host of “Dizney Coast to Coast,” the ultimate, unofficial Disney fan podcast. Get your FREE gifts of “America’s Hidden Mickeys,” “On the Rohde Again,” “Theme Park Comfort Kit” and more at DizneyCoastToCoast.com. DePaoli’s opinions are his own and do not necessarily represent Attractions Magazine.