In a special Animation Spin, artist/historian Russell Schroeder takes us on a journey through music that, for one reason or another, was not used for various projects.
When Russell Schroeder coined the phrase “Lost Chords” for the first of what would become three music books filled with rare Disney songs, he had no idea that he—or any Disney enthusiast—would know the joy of also hearing not only some of the demos, but also brand-new, fully orchestrated versions of these songs on numerous CDs, downloads and even vinyl.
Schroeder’s treasure hunt began in the mid-1970s, a few years after his new Disney career led him to the Walt Disney World Merchandise Art Department in Florida. “It was there that I came across a company-produced booklet that listed all of the songs owned by the Walt Disney Music Company and its subsidiary, Wonderland Music Company, Inc.,” he explains. “What a surprise to discover that not only were the familiar and treasured songs listed, but also numerous titles of songs that had been written for films but never used!”
His network of resourceful friends grew as he progressed through the ‘80s to the ‘90s, returning to an art department at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank. “While there I came into contact with co-workers at the Walt Disney Music Company. I expressed my interest in the unused songs and was allowed to find what remained in their files,” he says. “Although only a few selections were kept in their own files, they directed me to the Walt Disney Music Library. There, thanks to the decades-long dedication of numerous employees, the music for all the films dating back to the earliest days of the use of sound in Disney films had been saved.
“Many songs were created for characters that were eventually dropped from a given film (Jiminy Cricket was initially going to be an on-screen narrator for The Wind in the Willows). Some songs were created for plot points that had been changed. For instance, ‘The Lobster Quadrille’ song and the Mock Turtle character show up in Alice in Wonderland art and music materials as early as 1939 but did not end up in the finished 1951 film. Further research into story meeting notes and memos preserved in the Walt Disney Archives offered explanation as to the creativity and careful preparation that goes into the making of a Disney film.”
During the same time Schroeder was doing his research, Grammy-winning Walt Disney Records Producer Randy Thornton was releasing numerous Disney soundtracks that had never seen the light of day before, like Alice in Wonderland and 101 Dalmatians.
“Sometimes as bonus material after the actual soundtrack, Randy would add a couple of demo recordings he had come across of deleted song material, thus enabling audible versions to be heard for the first time,” Schroeder adds. “At the same time, I began creating full arrangements of the ‘lost song’ lead sheets. Not only were they immensely enjoyable as individual songs, but they also revealed added insight into the creation of those familiar and beloved films.
“Most of the time, the deletion of these songs had nothing to do with quality but just the way the story and characters evolve. Years of fascination and treasure hunting with these songs eventually resulted in the Lost Chords music book series, which led to Walt Disney Records’ CD/download releases and more recently, their inclusion in the Walt Disney Records Legacy Collection CD albums.
“This material offered original demo recording versions, along with newly created arrangements and recordings of each song in the style of the era in which the film first appeared. Some of the new arrangements had the added benefit of Disney Legend Richard M. Sherman on board to help with the new recordings of his songs for The Aristocats and Mary Poppins.”
Adding demos to soundtracks, cast albums and home videos is nothing new, of course. You might recognize a few of the songs below, especially from video and laserdisc releases. However, in the case of Lost Chords they are paired with new versions, giving listeners some idea of what the songs might have sounded like in the films. Top Hollywood musicians, singers and voice actors (even Corey Burton and Richard Sherman singing!) were brought in to maximize the quality and authenticity as much as possible. For The Rescuers, there were some Louis Prima demos produced that serve as the “newer” versions alongside the composer demos.
THE LOST CHORDS EP’s
These were exclusively for download with a distinctive “Lost Chords” logo accompanied by a booklet with liner notes by Russell Schroeder and rare artwork. Each song is represented by an original demo and a new version.
Peter Pan: “When the Bos’n Pipes a Tune (aka The Boatswain’s Song),” “Beyond the Laughing Sky,” “The Pirate Song,” “Never Land.”
The Aristocats: “How Much You Mean to Me / Court Me Slowly,” “Le Jazz Hot.”
The Rescuers: “Doin’ What I Really Do Best,” “I Never Had It So Good,” “ Peopleitis,” “The Need to Be Loved.”
WALT DISNEY RECORDS LEGACY COLLECTION
These are full-length soundtrack albums that also include bonus Lost Chords, each represented by an original demo and a new version.
Pinocchio: “No Strings,” “As I Was Sayin’ to the Duchess,” “Rolling Along to Pleasure Island.”
Lady and the Tramp: “I’m Free as the Breeze,” “I’m Singin’ (‘Cause I Want to Sing).”
Cinderella (also released in a Special Edition CD): “I’m in the Middle of a Muddle,” “I Lost My Heart at the Ball,” “The Mouse Song,” “Sing a Little, Dream a Little,” “Dancing on a Cloud,” “The Dress That My Mother Wore,” “The Face That I See in the Night.”
Sleeping Beauty: “As It Happens I Have A Picture,” “Riddle, Diddle, One, Two, Three,” “Evil—Evil.”
The Aristocats (same as above)
Mary Poppins: “Mary Poppins Melody,” “Admiral Boom,” “The Right Side,” “The Chimpanzoo,” “The Land of Sand,” “The North Pole Polka,” “The Eyes of Love.”
THE LOST CHORDS BOOKS
Each book contains complete piano arrangements, historical text about the songs and hundreds of rare images. All three Lost Chords books are available directly from Voigt Publications, signed by Russell Schroeder. Volumes One (311) and Volume Two (384 pages) are hardcover coffee table-style books and sell for $75.00 each plus $6.00 each shipping. Volume Three (254 pages) is a large format softcover and is $40.00 plus 3.65 shipping.
To place an order, or to get shipping information for combined or international orders, send an email to email@example.com
OTHER VINTAGE DISNEY MUSIC FOLIOS FROM RUSSELL SCHROEDER
There are also music books for Cookie Carnival, Funny Little Bunnies, Mickey Gala Premiere, and many more, plus a music folio called Songs from Walt Disney’s Animated Shorts and Featurettes.