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Find My Way to Disneyland: Marvin Hamlisch

I’m never surprised to find a Disney connection around every corner. And with news of composer Marvin Hamlisch’s passing this morning, here is yet another one. You see, I know Hamlisch’s work mostly because of A Chorus Line. During my four years in high school marching band, “What I Did for Love” was an anthem for us — the big song that all the seniors would play together during the last football game of the year. When I was a freshman, I didn’t entirely get it but as the years passed and I inched closer to the end of the high school career, those first few notes would choke me up. (“Kiss today goodbye… the sweetness and the sorrow…”)

While none of that is Disney related (unlesss you count A Cockroach Line outside of “It’s Tough to Be a Bug”), Hamlisch did do work with the Disney legend Howard Ashman on a musical called, Smile, in 1986. (I mentioned Smile a bit here.) Coincidentally, before Ashman ever worked for the Disney company, he wrote the lyrics and Hamlisch wrote the music for a song called “Disneyland”.

howard ashman and marvin hamlisch

Ashman & Hamlisch.

 Disneyland, Magic Kingdom
Disneyland, I close my eyes real tight
ishing hard I might, wishing hard I may
Find my way to
Disneyland, Gotta get to Disneyland, on a western breeze

Magic carpet please, carry me away

I know you’re gonna say the trees are paper mache
It’s done with mirrors, the magic there
Each little birds full of springs, you press a button it sings
Recorded music in the air
They’ve had the mountain refaced it’s only plywood and paste
Go on say it! I’ll turn around and tell you I don’t care I don’t… care

Ironically enough, Jodi Benson a.k.a. our curious mermaid Ariel sang “Disneyland” in the original cast of the show. Here’s the song sung by Jodi:

Isn’t it wonderful?

I never know how to end a tribute like this one. So I’ll just say, thanks.

(Picture Source)

About Estelle Hallick


Estelle is a Disney enthusiast with a soft spot for Muppets, theatre, and small details. She thinks Animal Kingdom is a full day park, the BoardWalk feels like home, and nothing is better than watching Illuminations. When she's not writing about Disney, she's taking out a record number of books from the library and reviewing fiction at Rather Be Reading Blog.

Rich TAugust 7, 2012 - 12:07 pm

I’m so sorry to hear about Mr. Hamlisch’s passing; he created a lot of great music during his lifetime.

I love the song “Disneyland,” but I hadn’t heard the original Jodi Benson version — thanks for posting it. I came across a recording by Kerry Butler on iTunes, and it knocks me out every time I listen. It starts out very similar, but changes some of the final lines to:

“Where the child inside
Gets to laugh and gets to ride
until it’s all okay.

I believe in Disneyland
Come with me to Disneyland
And when we get to Disneyland
Let’s stay.”

…with a very wistful harmonica solo added. I love both versions — never knew it came from “Smile.” Thank you for this post, and long live the music of Marvin Hamlisch!

Estelle HallickAugust 7, 2012 - 12:12 pm

Rich, thanks so much for stopping by today and commenting! Those lyrics just give me chills. I absolutely adore Kerry Butler and I saw her video while searching for the Jodi version. :) I’m going to have to go listen to it right now. I hope everyone is listening to a little Marvin today. :)

Cassandra (@MrsGrapeJuice)August 7, 2012 - 2:52 pm

I absolutely love this song! I had no idea he was part of creating it. Makes me love it even more!

[…] Howard Ashman and Jodi. Ashman wrote the books and lyrics for the short-lived Broadway show. (Marvin Hamlisch worked on the music.) During the run of the show, Ashman was already starting work on The Little Mermaid and had all the […]

Stephen TrevathanNovember 15, 2013 - 12:43 pm

Never had any idea that Hamlisch worked on creating this classic piece of music with Ashman. He really was a talented composer that will be missed. Thanks for sharing the audio of Jodie Benson too, what an incredible voice!

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