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"Disney's Lost Chords" showcases long-hidden treasures from the studio's musical archives

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"Disney's Lost Chords" showcases long-hidden treasures from the studio's musical archives

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What's your absolute favorite musical moment from a Walt Disney Production?

Me? If I really had to choose, I guess it would either be that moment in "Uncle Remus Tales" when that old storyteller leads an animated congregation in singing Ned Washington & Leigh Harline's sweet spiritual, "I'll take my Troubles Down By the River" ...

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... Or -- better yet -- how about that song that Jiminy Cricket sings at the very start of "The Wind in the Willows"? You know, the one that Jiminy warbles right before he reveals where Toad Hall is located.

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What's that you say? You don't remember these particular musical moments? Or -- for that matter -- even recognize the film titles that I've listed above?

Well, there's a reason for that. These particular songs were eventually cut off from the Disney films that they were originally written for and then squirreled away in the studio's musical archives. Never again to see the light of day.

That is, until Russell Schroeder came along. He then collected a lot of these long-unplayed tunes and then -- after folding them together with some seldom-seen visual development art from the Animation Research Library -- self-published this amazingly entertaining volume, "Disney's Lost Chords: Hidden Treasures from the Walt Disney Music Library" (Voigt Publications, March 2007)

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Now it's important to stress here that "Disney's Lost Chords" is really more of a collection of songs than it is a traditional history book. Oh, sure. You'll get to see some pretty amazing stuff as you page through this handsome hardcover. Like this cut sequence from "Mickey and the Beanstalk" where Mickey, Donald, Goofy and Pluto have to use teamwork in order to put a fresh diaper on a giant baby.

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And as cool as these 225 pieces of rare Disney development art may be, the real emphasis here is on songs that were dropped from films that the studio actually did get around to making (Take -- for example -- "I'm Odd," the big comic number that Bob Hilliard & Sammy Fain wrote for the Cheshire Cat character in "Alice in Wonderland" ...

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... Or -- better yet -- "Beware the Jabberwock," a musical version of Lewis Carroll's much beloved poem that Don Raye & Gene De Paul created. Sadly, this entire sequence was cut out of the picture before animation of "Alice" actually got underway)

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This 312-page book also features music from movies that Disney Studios developed but then decided not to make. Case in point: "The Rainbow Road to Oz," the live-action musical that Walt had originally hoped to shoot in 1957 with the Mouseketeers now playing many of L. Frank Baum's most famous characters (In the concept art below, we see Dorothy, Toto & a friend from the farm traveling 'Over the Rainbow' via tractor. Then -- upon their arrival in Oz -- this trio brushes off all of the rainbow dust that fell on them en route)

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Schroeder also unearthed three songs that Mel Leven & George Bruns wrote "Chantecler," that ambitious animated feature which was originally supposed to have been the studio's follow-up to "101 Dalmatians." Even with Maurice Chevalier slated to provide the voice & the vocals for this film's title character, Walt still pulled the plug on this project. Reportedly because one unnamed studio exec said "Audiences will never be able to embrace an animated feature that has a chicken as its star."

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Well, I'm sure that Disneyana fans will have no trouble embracing "Disney's Lost Chords." Though, if you really want to get your hands on this limited-edition hardcover, you'd best hurry. You see, Russell only produced 1000 copies of this book. And then they're gone ... They're gone.

So if you feel the need to discover some "Hidden Treasures from the Walt Disney Music Library Archives," then I suggest that you click on this link and order up a copy of "Disney's Lost Chords" ASAP. Because you really don't want to miss out on what could be your only chance to own this handsome & rare musical history book.

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  • Sounds like a cool book.

    I love Disney musicals, so I'll ned to check it out.

  • "Audiences will never be able to embrace an animated feature that has a chicken as its star."

    Sure they would!  They just have to do it right!  Here's hoping that with the rebirth of the hand drawn animation, we'll be able to see Chanticleer and perhaps even Man of La Mancha.

  • Yep, they've embraced a fish, a car, and a rat so far.  Do it right, and that chicken can be as big as a boy wizard.  ;)

    1,000 copies only?  Yikes.

  • Russell Schroeder has given us something really special. If you're able to read music, it's even better. I love Disney music, and as  kid use to hang with guys like Ollie Wallace and Paul Smith who scored Disney's movies.

    It's nice to see the focus on music for a change, because it was such an important part of the Disney magic.

  • Sounds interesting, also want to see "Chanticleer" as a future project at Disney.

  • Would Disney make a "Chanticleer" movie considering Don Bluth already made "Rock-A-Doodle"?  Granted, that was 16 years ago, but still...

  • I guess they were proven right with Chicken Little, even though my wife thinks the star of that little movie is one of the cutest characters Disney has ever created!

    This sounds like an awesome book, I really love reading about the "lost" history of all things Disney.  Too bad it doesn't come with a CD though. . .

  • even though it doesn't come with a CD (is this confirmed?), perhaps we can get someone out there to play through the songs and record them for us...heck it could even be a monthly feature of the jim hill media podcast ;)  

  • According to his autobiography, that "unamed studio exec" was Bill Peet. He claims he yelled from the back of the room :"You can't make a hero out of a chicken!" This really ticked off Milt Kahl,who had animated some real good poultry for the original Chicken Little, and Marc Davis, who had done a lot of development art for the story pitch. Disney sided with Peet, and they went ahead with "The Sword in the Stone"

    I suspect that the resulting bad blood didn't help production on Sword in the Stone, and that's the reason it's one of the studio's weakest films. This, in turn probably began to erode Walt's faith in Bill's judgement.  On Jungle Book, Disney and Peet had trouble agreeing on many things, and Peet ultimately left the studio.  

  • I had the chance to interview Mr. Schroeder as part of an author's panel at the NFFC Convention. I was really impressed by his knowledge of the subject and by his book. We even had a chance to hear some of these songs performed live at a subsequent seminar!

    There's no CD included with the book, but hopefully a talented musician out there will read this book,love the songs included, and create one...

  • Mr Disney really had a vision which has changed the world and the people in it.

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