In honor of the new live action Jungle Book movie coming out next week, I thought I’d take a look back at the 1967 classic animated feature film and its music. This movie holds a place near and dear to many Disney fans’ hearts as one of the last films ever that Walt Disney personally had a hand in directly influencing it. The music from the Jungle Book stands out as some of the best from the Disney movies of the 1960s. The soundtrack was nominated for both an Oscar for Best Original Song for “The Bare Necessities,” and for a Grammy Award for Best Recording for Children.
The Mellomen, who Disney fans may know as the voices of the singing busts in the Haunted Mansion among other things, including Thurl Ravenscroft and Bill Lee, helped provide the singing voices of the Dawn Patrol elephants in “Colonel Hathi’s March” and its reprise in the Jungle Book.
The Bare Necessities was written by Terry Gilkyson, but was deemed a bit too dark in its original incarnation. Van Dyke Parks, who is a famous arranger, composer and songwriter known for working with the Beach Boys, did a new and more upbeat arrangement for the song performed by Phil Harris as Baloo and Bruce Reitherman, who was the voice of Mowgli and the son of director Wolfgang Reitherman.
Phil Harris and Louis Prima who voiced Baloo and King Louie respectively. The men improvised all the scatting that they did in the Jungle Book during their song “I Wanna Be Like You.” Both were popular jazz singers and musicians in their day.
Richard and Robert Sherman were brought in to take over as songwriters and composers after Walt Disney found the original songs from Terry Gilkyson to be too dark, although more true to the tone of the Kipling version of the Jungle Book. The Sherman Brothers repurposed a song called “Land of Sand” they had written for Mary Poppins which was not used, and turned it into “Trust In Me.” Kaa was voiced by longtime Disney veteran Sterling Holloway.
Did you know that the singing Vultures in the Jungle Book were originally intended to be voiced by the Beatles? Supposedly John Lennon nixed the idea or there was a scheduling conflict, but the appearance and voices of the vultures still are clearly inspired by the Beatles. To make the vultures have a more timeless sound, the music was changed to a barbershop quartet to sing the song “That’s What Friends Are For.” One of the Mellomen, Bill Lee, provided the singing voice of Shere Khan for the song.
The instrumental version of the song “My Own Home” is woven throughout the score of the Jungle Book. Famous Disney composer George Bruns wrote the score, while the Sherman Brothers wrote all the songs with the exception of “The Bare Necessities,” which was the only surviving song from Terry Gilkyson.Follow us for more updates: