March 6, 2018 posted by Greg Ehrbar

Disney’s “Lost Chords” – Unsung Songs from Classic Films

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.

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.”

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.”

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

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.

“Beyond the Laughing Sky”

This is a video excerpt starring the wonderful lady of Wonderland herself, Kathryn Beaumont, explaining how a song from her first Disney film ended up in her second.


  • There is also the category of songs that almost made it in, but not quite–which survive in the underscoring and in commercially released recordings.

    The most famous is probably “Never Smile at a Crocodile” which had such a life of its own that it’s hard to believe it isn’t in the film of Peter Pan. There’s also a “Peter Pan” song which survives in those three notes that are played when Peter Pan appears.

    The Pinocchio score has many such gems, including “Jiminy Cricket is the Name”, “Monstro the Whale,” “Honest John,” “Three Cheers for Anything,” and “Turn on the Old Music Box” (which is heard instrumentally in the score). There is also “Little Wooden Head” which is partially sung by Gepetto but never fully realized as a song in its own right in the film.

    Another example is “Sing a Smiling Song” from Sleeping Beauty. It’s evident that more of a song was intended in the scene where the good fairies use their magic to create the cake and dress for Aurora’s birthday party. “Skumps” is also a little truncated in its finished form.

    Yet another example is “She Never Felt Alone” from the Aristocats, which almost gets sung in the film but not quite.

    Then there is “A Step in the Right Direction” from Bedknobs and Broomsticks. Despite its bearing a strong resemblance to “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” it is a delightful song in its own right, and it’s truly a shame that Angela Lansbury’s original footage was lost. However, the song can be inserted into its proper place in the film–via some juggling of the remote– thanks to its inclusion as a bonus feature on the DVD.

    There are truly many “lost gems” to be mined from the Disney vaults.

    • Don’t forget about the songs Terry Gilkyson wrote for The Jungle Book before they got discarded, except for “The Bare Necessities” of course.

      There are also three songs that were written for One Hundred and One Dalmatians by Mel Levin, but were ultimately cut. They are “Cheerio, Goodbye, Toodle-oo, Hip Hip”, “March of the Hundred and One”, and “Don’t Buy a Parrot from a Sailor” as well as early versions of “Cruella De Vil” and “Dalmatian Plantation”. I found “March of the Hundred and One” to be charming, even though it was dropped.

      And who can forget the many unused songs that were written for “Alice in Wonderland” for potential use?

      It’s always fascinating to discover deleted songs that were written for Disney movies, but wound up unused.

  • Last I looked, these are also available to listen to on Spotify.

  • Wow! Lots of great information. Susan Egan (the voice of Hercules’ Meg) sings a “lost chord” from Hercules on her album “Coffee House.” The song is called “I Can’t Believe My Heart.”

  • I have the 2 beautiful hardcover volumes of “Disney’s Lost Chords”, although you mention three in your connecting post. Is there a third volume, and if so, what does it include? I’m very intrigued.

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