Disney-Country Collaborations

Woody's Round Up

The only thing that could possibly rival country music for its domination of the market in manufactured sadness and nostalgia is, well, a Disney movie.

So I guess it makes sense that the Mouse House and country music would team up now and again to prey on our emotions and leave a trail of our glistening tears in their wake. Two recent Disney-country collaborations appear on a new album of Disney classics reinterpreted by popular contemporary singers.

we-love-disney-cdCalled We Love Country, the collection includes two country songs. The first is “Let It Go,” performed as a duet between Lucy Hale and the Rascal Flatts. Since Frozen is still fairly new and overrated, I didn’t respond strongly to that one. The second country song is Kacey Musgraves’s cover of “A Spoonful of Sugar” — a tune I strongly associate with my childhood. My mom and I watched Mary Poppins, like, daily, and I would stand on the staircase with an open umbrella and pretend I was flying.  Musgraves keeps it bouncy and light, but like vinegar and baking soda the steel guitar and my memories of that singing nanny are a mixture that yield a predictable response. I sobbed.

I started this post intending to share my ten favorite Disney-country collaborations. But since I’m running short on Kleenex, I’ll just focus on the top five. They’re ranked in order of the least to most likely to leave me in a puddle.

5. “Will the Sun Ever Shine Again” (2004)

Disney’s cow movie, Home on the Range, is a disaster except for this heart-wrenching ballad by country rocker Bonnie Raitt. For many people (myself included), feeling nostalgic often involves longing for home and brighter days. But how does one go on when there’s no way of knowing if the sun will shine again? The song is good and sad enough it almost makes me feel sympathy for that ditzy, selfish bovine with the voice of Roseanne.

4. The Robin Hood (1973) soundtrack

I’m not sure how the Disney execs came up with the idea of hiring Roger Miller to write the songs for their movie about a medieval English thief. Probably, they wanted him to bring the same zany fun to the film that he had brought to songs like “Dang Me” and “King of the Road” in the mid ’60s. In fact, with the songs “Oo De Lally” and “Not in Nottingham” he gave the movie a soul and an emotional punch. “Oo De Lally” is as much an introduction to the characters of Robin Hood and Little John as it is a testament to their friendship.

3. “On the Front Porch” (1963)

If nostalgia had a voice it would sound like Burl Ives. Though he was a celebrated folk/country singer and an Oscar-winning actor, he is best known for voicing the character of Sam the Snowman on the classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer TV special. In Disney’s Summer Magic, he plays a wise country bumpkin, and in one of the film’s best moments he gathers the other characters together to sing along on this ode to family, friends, and the simpler days gone by.

The song was written by Richard and Robert Sherman, who composed the songs for lots of the movies I obsessed over as a kid, including The Sword in the Stone (1963), Mary Poppins (1964), The Jungle Book (1967), Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971), and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977).

2. You’ve Got a Friend in Me (1995)

Pretty much the whole point of Toy Story is to bring the tears of nostalgia into its viewer’s eyes. Do you feel guilty even considering trashing a stuffed animal you haven’t touched in ten years? Blame director John Lasseter. “Woody’s Round-Up,” performed by Riders in the Sky, appears in Toy Story 2 and is the franchise’s most traditional country song, but the tune that brings these movies’ fans to tears is “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.” At the end of the first film, the song is performed as a duet between Randy Newman and alt.country singer Lyle Lovett. Like Woody and Buzz, they’re an odd but perfect combination.

1. “Baby Mine” (1996)

This song from Dumbo is one of Disney’s most enduring classics. In 1996, Allison Krauss covered it for the album The Best of Country Sing the Best of Disney, and though the single floundered on the charts it netted her a Grammy nomination.

Like Mary Poppins and Toy Story, Dumbo isn’t just a movie I watched as a child — it’s a movie about the experience of being a child. How better to remind viewers how it felt to be both scared and comforted as a child than through a lullaby? Krauss’s version adds a bridge and a modern sound, and though the original brings me tears, it’s the cover that makes me melt. I sing the song pretty regularly to my own son at bedtime, which means my emotional attachment — not to mention the puddles of tears — will only grow in the years to come

Nostalgia is a difficult topic to discuss with other people because we all have such different experiences. Do Disney movies give you the same feels that country music does? What Disney-country collaborations that I’ve left off the list do you remember and love? Share in the comments!


Filed under Lists, Movies and TV, Reflection

13 Responses to Disney-Country Collaborations

  1. Caitie Labay

    I LOVED this post! There really is nothing better than a Disney movie, and you had me at Mary Poppins. I, too, used to dance around my house singing every tune from the film (I loved it so much that I was one of the few teenagers excited for the release of “Saving Mr. Banks”, the film about the making of “Mary Poppins”). While no version will ever be able to top Julie’s, I think Kacey definitely does the song justice and I hope that her version will help bring the movie to younger generations. I also love “You’ve Got a Friend in Me”. It is an absolutely precious song and how can you not love it when it’s in a movie about toys coming to life? This post also introduced me to a few new songs which was great. This was definitely a fun walk down memory lane!

  2. Morgan Lohmeier

    I have never thought of the association between Disney movies and country music in these ways, or at all really. I enjoyed having memories of my own childhood flood back to me as i read through this post. I really loved reading about the roll of country music in these Disney animations. It’s so true that the sad, nostalgic theme is prevalent at some point within every Disney movie and the same is true for most great country songs. This is such a unique take on the country music genre with these timeless movies. Thanks for the read.

  3. Stephanie Sebo

    This is really such an interesting post! I have never thought about this topic before. First of all, I have never heard Lucy Hale sing before, so that was different for me. I have heard “Let it Go” plenty of times, but never like that. I am a huge Rascal Flatts fan, so it was nice to hear that. “A Spoon Full of Sugar” is a classic to me. I get very sentimental hearing that song because that reflects more of my childhood, whereas Frozen was more recently made while I was already older. I love Disney and appreciated this post very much!

  4. Laura Morales

    I have actually never been a fan of Disney movies (I know… I’m part of the unpopular opinion). With that being said, I have not seen a lot of them, so I did not know that there were country songs involved in these movies. It is interesting to see that there was a country music influence in classic Disney movies. I had heard of the ‘Let It Go’ version by Lucy Hale (someone who I had been very skeptical about when she broke into the country music scene because I know her as an actress) and the Rascal Flatts. I have never been fond of the song since it was part of the film’s soundtrack, and I think my previous bias and hatred of the song made me dislike it. This was an interesting post regardless, because I got to see and hear songs that I might have missed out on for my dislike of Disney movies!

  5. Cassidy Wilson

    I found this so interesting. I was not introduced to country music until high school so I have never made the connection between the two industries. Thinking back now, who doesn’t recognize “You Got a Friend in Me”. You’re right the song combined with the scenario in Toy Story can definitely be a tear jerker. As a country music fan and a Disney fan I really enjoyed reading this post and the style in which you presented it. It makes me want to listen to those songs from a whole new perspective! Thank you for the knowledge and insight on this topic!

  6. This is a very interesting article and covers two things America loves, Disney movies and Country music. Disney movies and country music absolutely give me the same feelings and emotions. They both tell stories everyone can relate to and are made to evoke emotions from their audiences. Disney movies like Country music can bring back memories you have had and miss, this is what makes them so special. When you put the two together you get an even more magnified emotion. How can you not feel nostalgic when you hear the old voice of Lovett paired with a story of a young boy with his favorite toy.

  7. Lottie Glazer

    Even as a college student, I will not deny the fact that on certain nights I will walk into the TV room at the house and a bunch of my friends will be sitting watching a Disney movie. Many of them are considered timeless classics that even through the years have remained relevant. The same can be said about many country music songs as well. I know many people who strictly listen to old country songs and refuse to listen to the new songs coming out on the radio. Both give you a sense of nostalgia that just make you stop and smile. I love this article because it reminds me of the joy that comes from seeing an awesome Disney movie paired with amazing country music. Just think about the next time you watch “Cars” how hard it is not to sing along with Rascal Flatt’s “Life is a Highway”.

  8. Joseph Schooling

    Like Morgan said, I, too, never saw the correlation between country music and disney songs. Growing up, Toy Story was one of my favorite Disney movies. I can’t help but think back to all the times I made my parents watch all these movies with me. Besides being very well planned out, I thought these movies had great lessons for a kid growing up. As I’ve matured, I see music in a different light. I start to see how those Disney songs give me a sense of nostalgia that transports me back home into my living room watching Robin Hood, Toy Story, and Dumbo etc. Reading this post and listening to the 5 songs has really sent me back into time, reliving the glory days where I could just sit on a couch all day long with nothing to worry about.

  9. Olivia English

    I absolutely loved reading this post! I grew up watching Disney movies religiously – Disney movies, and only Disney movies as a child. The song “You’ve Got A Friend in Me” is one of my absolute favorites to this day. Not only does it bring back amazing memories of watching Woody and Buzz save the toys and build an amazing friendship, but I now can apply it to many real situations throughout my life. “Robin Hood Oo De Lally”, while one of the lesser known Disney songs, is also one of my favorites. As the article states, “a testament to their [Robin Hood and Little John] friendship”, the song only brings back wonderful memories of singing and dancing along with my friends and siblings.

  10. mjh3964

    As soon as I heard Randy Newman’s unique voice coming out of my computer, every good friend of mine from past to present began to flash before my eyes. Simply looking at Woody sliding down the banister almost brought a tear to my eye. With how causally this post started using the words like and well as a person would lured me in to thinking that I was just going to hear a little bit about country songs in Disney movies. As each witty explanation guided me through the top five nostalgic songs in Disney I began to realize I was in for more than I bargained for. This short well organized post was a reminder of why Disney movies will always be a personal favorite.

  11. Adrian Ortiz

    I am a pretty big fan of Disney, so it was a very enjoyable read. As I watched the videos it reminded me a lot of my childhood, especially when I was listening to “You’ve Got a Friend in Me,” because it is one of my favorite Disney songs and Toy Story is my personal favorite Disney movie. What I also found interesting, was listening to the Lucy Hale version of “Let it go.” I did not know Lucy Hale could sing so it came as a shock to me her great voice. I have listened to the original version multiple times so it was nice to listen to a country version of it.

  12. Mae

    This post was so great to read as it reminded me so much of my childhood and my love for Disney movies and songs. “You’ve got a friend in me” is personally one of my favorite movie songs ever because it has such a great message and reminds me so much of how great of a movie Toy Story was and what an impact it had on my childhood. The influence of country music had and still has a great impact on the intentions of Disney because of its innocence and impactful nature. I haven’t thought about these songs in a while and I am so glad to be reminded of them!

  13. jck2223

    I have always thought it was funny how “you’ve got a friend in me” was such an important song in Toy Story but I think it is because country music is such easy listening and these disney movies are such easy watching.

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