Book Review: The Walt Disney Song Book

Perhaps even more than the story or the characters it’s the music we remember the most from our favorite Disney movies. From the iconic Some Day My Prince Will Come from Snow White to fun tunes like Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah from Song of the South, we love to sing along. Even our favorite theme park attractions have signature songs, like It’s a Small World, which we just can’t get out of our heads!

Well, now you can not only sing along, but actually play the tunes yourself, thanks to this Golden Book:

This was published by the Western Publishing Company as a fourth printing in 1976. My goal is to have only mint condition first editions in my Disney book collection, but with the extensive title library available, I’ll have to settle for some later editions in questionable conditions, like this one.

I picked this copy up at a local flea market for $6.00 CAN which was still too much to pay, even though it was on for half price. The condition makes it all-but worthless monetarily, but I thought it still had some value for interest sake.

Let’s have a look at the inside:

Nice collage from the inside leaf, front and back

Walt Disney Song Book 004

Title Page

Contents Page

Each movie or Disney property featured starts with a brief introductory blurb. This gives you some basic information about what the songs were meant to achieve in the story.

Let’s begin our review of the songs in this book by visiting the animated film that started it all, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs:

As you can see, the artwork, although well done, is not ‘on model’. That is, the characters are more stylized than what we may normally see in promotional artwork for the same characters.

Here are some more pages and songs I picked out:

From Dumbo

Casey Junior is one of my favorite Disney characters! It is amazing how many trains made it into Disney films, although not surprising when one considers Walt obsession with steam locomotives!

From Song of the South

One of my all-time favorite Disney live-action/animated blends! And although the song above may not be the signature song from the film, it has definitely been an inspiration for me. Because I don’t want you to miss any of the fun lyrics, here is the concluding page:

Everyone finished laughing? Then let’s move on:

Walt Disney Song Book 010

From Rascal

OK, when I came across this song from a movie I had never heard of. I’ve never seen this song on any Disney compilation CD either, so why it was included in this volume is beyond me. The live-action film was released in 1969 and was a based on the book Rascal by Sterling North about a young man and his pet raccoon set in Wisconsin.

The movie is a dramatization of Sterling North’s 1963 “memoir of a better era.” The movie relates a year in the life of young Sterling North which featured, of all things, a raccoon.

The film features the forgotten song “Summer Sweet” and starred Bill Mumy of Lost in Space fame.

From Bedknobs and Broomsticks

Not one of Disney’s best live-action/animation blends, it was made to capitalize on the popularity of Mary Poppins. It starred Angela Lansbury (who later became Mrs. Potts) and featured the return of Mr. Banks actor David Tomlinson. Although not a singer per se, he is featured prominently in this song along with Ms. Lansbury.

I had heard and enjoyed this song long before I knew where it came from. I think most Disney fans may have been in the same predicament, as the 1971 film doesn’t rate very high on most people’s ‘Best of Disney’ lists. Although the film received mostly positive reviews from critics and has scored 63% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Now let’s branch away from movies to a theme park entry:

Walt Disney Song Book 012

It’s a Small World

Written by the Sherman Brothers for the UNICEF attraction at the 1964 New York World’s Fair, this song just. Will. Not. Die. It’s been playing continuously, or at least it feels that way, since 1966 at Disneyland. And I guess we wouldn’t have it any other way!

From TV’s Davy Crockett series

With only five television episodes Disney managed to whip the world into a frenzy with this ballad turned anthem. The episodes were released as two feature-length motion pictures to even greater reception. If only I had a penny for every coonskin cap sold!

From TV’s The Mickey Mouse Club show

Fittingly, the song book ends with this merry march, singing the virtues of everyone’s favorite ‘leader of the club’, Mickey Mouse.

Walt Disney Song Book 002

Back Cover

I would give this book a 5 out of 5 Stars as it is useful to those who wish to play their favorite songs on the piano while singing along. The inclusion of complete lyrics is a plus. The artwork, although stylized, is very good.

If you would like a copy, Amazon has several available. Used copies start from $19.99 US with new hardcover copies starting at a much higher $135.88 US as of April 2, 2016.