If you've never seen America Sings, here's the basic rundown: At Tomorrowland in Disneyland (Anaheim) from '74 to '88, in the old Carousel of Progress building, Sam the Eagle and Ollie the Owl presented a revue of America's music, from the earliest folk songs to the rock 'n' roll era, sung and performed by animatronic cartoon animals.
Yeah, I know, not exactly animation, but the characters designed by Imagineer Marc Davis for the show might just as well be three-dimensional cartoon characters as far as I'm concerned. And hey, it's Disney!
The show is long gone, but if you want to see it, there is a two-part video on YouTube of the complete farewell performance, or you can just ride Splash Mountain and see the reused characters sing "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah".
In this first entry, I'll be covering the beginning and end of the show, which both focus on the earliest songs known to Americans, some of which were inherited from our ancestors from the British Isles.
First up: Yankee Doodle. I think Wikipedia can explain this better than I ever could.
"Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair", often heard and punned on in Looney Tunes. Written by Stephen Foster in 1854.
"Pop Goes the Weasel", another folk song of uncertain origins and even more uncertain meaning, best known as the tune that plays on every jack-in-the-box ever. Ollie sings the American lyrics, as any patriotic owl should. Alvin's first encounter with psychedelic drugs seems an oddly appropriate accompaniment:
"Auld Lang Syne", the "New Year's Eve song". Words written by Robert Burns in 1788, the music being a traditional melody. As she is wont, Julies Andrews provides a lovely, sincere rendition:
And finally, for the exit music, a lively '70s soul version of Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever", which I've already covered in a previous entry.
Next up: the Ol' South!