One reaction to the stresses and strains of everyday life is to escape into a kind of sentimental nostalgia.
Thus it was during the last years of the Second World War and during the first yeas after the end of it.
So, Broadway gave us “Oklahoma!” and “Bloomer Girl” and “High Button Shoes”. And Hollywood chimed in with films like “Meet Me In St. Louis”, “Centennial Summer” and “My Friend Flicka”.
Even better if you could throw into the stockpot of ideas cute kids (preferably just pre-adolescent), engaging animals, and a County-, State- or World’s Fair.
So, why should it be any different for the Walt Disney studios?
So Dear To My Heart could be most readily compared to “Song of the South”, but without the “racial” controversies. It was primarily a live-action feature with some animated sequences.
And, of course–there were songs. Disney’s Music Department would see to that. And Santly-Joy, the Tin Pan Alley publisher that was handling Disney’s music before the establishment of Wonderland Music, would see that the songs got published, plugged and promoted.
Even though the film was not released until the autumn of 1948, the songs were already in place almost a year before release of the pic.
The title song–a sweet and sentimental ditty–was the object of three thrushes, and their respective record companies.
Columbia handed the song to Dinah Shore, and released the disc on 38299 in late 1948. Dinah had had a Disney connection with Fun and Fancy Free, but her version didn’t go anywhere on the charts of the day. (Dinah was not worried–a few weeks later, Columbia would release a disc that would take Dinah back up to the top: “Buttons and Bows”, from Bob Hope’s Paleface.)
Capitol gave the song to another canary, Peggy Lee. However, Miss Lee’s version (15232) didn’t go any farther than Miss Shore’s.
And Mercury gave it to an obscure “fem chirp”–Anne Vincent. Her disc (5246) was about as successful as the others: not very.
A rhythm number, “It’s Whatcha Do With Whatcha Got”, was given by Columbia to Gene Krupa’s orchestra. Krupa’s men swing it all right, but the vocal by Buddy Hughes suffers from a certain diffidence.
Kay Starr gave it a better treatment. But her performance could only be heard on the air, as it was cut for Standard radio transcriptions, and not for a Capitol record that the potential listener could take home or hear on a juke box.
Nobody seems to have recorded “Stick-To-It-Ivity”.
But there was one song in the score of “So Dear To My Heart” that brought the “joy” to Santly-Joy, and pleased the Music Department of the Walt Disney studios no end. We’ll listen to that one next week.