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The Pair Who Write Songs for Nannies and Pooh Bears

Movies: The Sherman brothers' assignments for Disney have included 'Mary Poppins' and 'The Parent Trap,' as well as the new 'Tigger Movie.'


Richard: And "On the Beach at Bali Bali." These are all songs which had wordplay in them. Dad was our mentor and our original instructor in the construction of songs way, way back in the early '50s.

There is a great old story about Michelangelo. He used to go to the quarry and look at these huge, huge blocks of marble. He would look at a block of marble for maybe half a day, and then he said, "Oh yes, I want that one because I see inside that one, my David. All I need to do is free him," and all you have to do is chip away the garbage.

That holds true when Bob and I sit down to write a song. We say, "What is it about? Why do we need this song? What is it going to say?" Once we have that big block of marble, all we need to do is chip away.

Robert: Our dad had a saying: "There are three S's: simplicity, sincerity and sound." We always look for these three S's.


Q: What was it like collaborating with Kenny Loggins on the final song, "Your Heart Will Lead You Home"?

Robert: We met him and he was a nice guy, a real talented boy. We had two meetings with him, and at the second meeting we finished the song and then he recorded it and came back with a demo.

Richard: It was a great demo. We waited for the final decision [from the producers], and it came back that they loved it. They wanted a song about the picture, as opposed to songs of the picture. It was a wonderful moment for all of us. We had never collaborated before.


Q: When did you start working at Disney Studios originally?

Richard: 1960.


Q: You wrote for Annette Funicello before that?

Richard: We wrote "Tall Paul." We wrote a lot of songs for Annette. Then Annette eventually graduated to the "Beach Party" pictures, but to this day we have a great love for Annette.

Robert: She was our lucky star.

Richard: She is the one who brought us to Disney. He first gave us a grueling apprenticeship. We wrote seven songs, totally different assignments one at a time to prove to him we could do anything. We did westerns, Mexican songs, everything. Then one day he handed us this book called "Mary Poppins." He said, "Read it and tell me what you think." We knew that was the writing on the wall [that he liked us]. We worked on that for 2 1/2 years.

Robert: We worked on 12 pictures [while] working on "Poppins."

Richard: It was a back-burner thing. We would work on it for two weeks and then be pulled off of it to work on some other things, and then we would come back to it.

Robert: Mostly, all the score was written before there was a script.


Q: I loved the final song, "Let's Go Fly a Kite."

Robert: That was dedicated to our father.

Richard: He used to take us out as kids and fly kites [with us].


Q: Are you at work on your next project?

Richard: We have a [musical for the theater] we have high hopes for: "The Merry-Go-Round of Life," which is kind of a serious musical.

Robert: It is nothing like we have ever done before.

Richard: The Sherman brothers, hold the sugar!

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