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Album: The Jungle BookReleased: 1967
"The Bare Necessities" is arguably the most alluring song from the 1967 Walt Disney classic The Jungle Book; the film itself is based somewhat loosely on The Jungle Book by the British Imperialist author Rudyard Kipling.
Kipling (1865-1936) was born in Bombay, the son of an expatriate British artist, designer and academic. The Jungle Book was published in 1894; it was a collection of previously published short stories, three of which featured Mowgli, who had been abandoned in the Indian jungle and raised by wolves. Although like Orwell's later Animal Farm, Kipling's stories were not really intended for children - the Disney animation - which was not the first adaptation of this work - plays it strictly for laughs.
"The Bare Necessities" is a duet between Baloo The Bear and Mowgli - his adopted man-cub. It was written by the American folk singer Terry Gilkyson (1916-99), and was sung in the film by Phil Harris as Baloo and Bruce Reitherman as Mowgli. It was originally written for an earlier draft of the film, which was rejected, and is the only song from that earlier version to survive, being retained at the request of the Sherman Brothers, who were major contributors to the film.
The song's title is of course a pun, being sung by a bear, but retains its charm in other languages as does the entire film.
Unsurprisingly, "The Bare Necessities" was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song, but lost out to "Talk To The Animals
" from another children's musical, Dr Doolittle
. It has been recorded since, including by Louis Armstrong. Check out a still from the movie in Song Images
The song advocates for a life of simplicity, as Baloo is happy with just what he needs to survive. Humans generally don't live in the woods and eat ants, but the lesson still applies, as stripping back unnecessary complications in life can greatly reduce stress and induce happiness.
In 2016, Disney did a live-action remake of The Jungle Book with Bill Murray as the voice of Baloo. For the soundtrack, Murray recorded the song with the New Orleans jazz musician Kermit Ruffins.