Monday, May 24, 2010

Grinning Ghosts and Running Mice

One of the things I enjoy the most about Disney -- and yes, I can enjoy Disney, get off your high horses and get that pole our of your kiester -- is the music. But not just the big-time Sherman Brothers music from Disney's Golden Age, nor even the Broadwayized schtick we get today. I'm talking incidental music, from the theme park rides to the cartoon shorts.

Take "Grim Grinning Ghosts," by Disney composer Buddy Baker. An awesome piece of music and narration for one of my favorite rides at Disneyland. Never knew that until today. And there's more -- he did music for films like "The Fox and the Hound," the Apple Dumpling Gang series, and Hot Lead and Cold Feet. He also was a professor of music at LA City College where he taught another of my favorite composers, Jerry Goldsmith. (And it's also hard to miss Thurl Ravenscroft's distinctive voice as the narrator.)

He earned an Academy Award nomination for the score to "Napoleon and Samantha," Jodie Foster's first film, which I've never even heard of.

That's not all of Disney's musicians, however, just doing their jobs without really gettting the kudos or the fame that others have received working at the studio.

There's Artie Butler, who penned the music for this scene, the best one from "The Rescuers."

(I know that's a partial. The full embed-disabled scene is here.)

Even as a kid I would want to watch this scene over and over and over again just for the music. I even wanted to pick up piano lessons again just so I could learn to play it.

Butler, of course, was a composer and arranger outside of Disney, too. He arranged music for the likes of Barry Manilow (the unforgettable Copacabana) Helen Reddy (You and Me Against the World), and worked with the likes of Louis Armstrong and Barbara Streisand. Maybe it irks him he's best known to me as the composer of the "Organ Scene" in "The Rescuers." No matter.

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