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Remembering Robert B Sherman (1925 - 2012)

Jim Hill

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Remembering Robert B Sherman (1925 - 2012)

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If any baby boomers that you know seem a bit blue today ... Well, there's a reason. Robert B Sherman, the man who -- along with his brother Richard M Sherman -- basically wrote the soundtrack for their childhoods ... passed away yesterday.


Robert Bernard Sherman
(December 19, 1925 - March 5, 2012)

Which isn't to say that kids today aren't familiar with the Sherman Brothers' work. Given how sturdy & tuneful & memorable the music that these two crafted was, I'd wager that there isn't a child in America who -- if you were to sing "Winnie the Pooh, Winnie the Pooh ... " to them -- wouldn't then imediately come back with " ... tubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff."

That (to my way of thinking, anyway) was Richard & Robert's real gift. That they create these eminently hummable songs that you knew almost before you knew them. Which entered your cerebral cortex and then just refused to leave.

Let me quickly throw out a few titles here: "Let's Get Together." "Chim Chim Cher-ee." "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang." "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow." "One Little Spark." And -- of course -- "it's a small world (after all)." As soon as you read those names, didn't those songs immediately begin to run through your head?


Richard M Sherman, Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke and Robert B Sherman on set
during the production of "Mary Poppins." Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc.
All rights reserved

What I find amazing about the songs that I mentioned above is that they were all assignments that Walt Disney, Cubby Broccoli or the Imagineers gave Richard & Robert. The brothers were told what to do. And then they retreated to their piano.  And -- on deadline, often under brutal pressure to deliver something memorable immediately -- the Shermans delivered again & again & again.

That's a level of skill & craftsmanship that you just don't see these days. Which is why I have to admit that (for strictly selfish reasons) I was kind of sad when I learned  that -- in 2002 -- that Robert had basically retired. That the elder Sherman Brother had traded Beverly Hills for London.  Where songwriting then took a back seat as Robert completed his long-in-the-works autobiographical novel, "Moose."

I'm genuinely look forward to reading this book. Which details Robert's rather brutal experiences during World War II. Where he was among the first Allied troops to enter Dachau just hours after the Germans had abandoned this concentration camp in April of 1945.


The Sherman Brothers unite in 2008 as they receive the National Medal of Arts from
President George W. Bush.

The fact that the elder Sherman could see something like that (not to mention being shot in the knee later that same month. Which -- even after weeks & weeks of rehab -- resulted in Richard walking a cane for the rest of his life) and still manage to write such sunny, heartfelt pieces of music ... That just amazes me.

Anyway ... Nancy and I are literally just about to climb into our car to begin the 9 hour-long drive down  to Orlando to attend a press event. But thanks to the CDs that we already have with us (not to mention the music that we can now access via Pandora), I imagine that we're going to spend a lot of time on today's road trip listening to Sherman Brothers music. As we two baby boomers remember the man who taught us how a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down; how there is just one moon and one golden sun and a smile means friendship to everyone; not to mention how important it is to show others that you care by doing something small & simple like feed the birds.

The entire JimHillMedia family wishes to extend its condolences to the Sherman family during their time of sadness.

 

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  • Thanks for writing the tribute, Jim. I wasn't aware that he had passed away (I hadn't seen any press about it), and he deserves a great deal of respect for what he was able to create.

  • The Sherman brothers wrote songs that were woven through my childhood and are now an integral part of why I love Disney World and Disneyland so much. Just a few bars of one of their songs and I am transported to an ageless place where happiness and joy are the norm, and the real world is very far away.

    How many people can touch us at such a core emotional level with something as simple as a song? Not many. Thank you Richard and Robert for giving that to me.

  • If you are like me, a Disney fan of a certain age, you may not remember the Sherman brothers, but throughout your childhood Walt Disney gave you magic through his vision and the Sherman brothers made the magic complete through their music.

    RIP Robert Sherman

  • There's a great big beautiful tomorrow, just a dream away.

    Rest in peace, Mr. Sherman, and thank you for all the great tunes.

  • Walt noticed something truly special about the Sherman brothers when  he met them all those years ago and their unique talents for song writing continues to touch the hearts of children to this day and for many more years to come. The world has lost a special person but his gift made the world a brighter place and Robert will truly be missed. Also, I suggest everyone who reads this to go out and buy the amazing documentry on the Sherman Brothers called "The Boys" which was directed by their sons and produced by Ben Stiller. This was one of the best Disney related documentries I have ever seen and I learned so much about a couple of the world's best songwriters! Go to Amazon asap and buy or rent it as soon as you can as you won't regret it!!!

  • As a small boy excitedly watching the credits begin on a Walt Disney film, I always recognized the name Robert and Richard Sherman interspersed with a creative beginning.   I think I could recognize the Sherman Bros names as each appeared by how the letters were shaped before I could read.  I distinctly remember looking for their names on screen at the beginning of the One and Only Original Family Band.

    God bless Robert Sherman

  • The Shermans added so much to the Disney magic. Their style of movie songwriting is sorely missed. Rest in peace, Robert

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