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The Sound of Music was one of famous Broadway musical writing team Rodgers and Hammerstein's most loved works, and also their last collaboration. Other notable works by them include Oklahoma! and The King and I. In The Sound of Music, Richard Rodgers wrote the music and Oscar Hammerstein II wrote the lyrics to the song "My Favorite Things."
Although first appearing on the stage in a 1959 production, most people know the film version which was released in 1965 and won five Oscars. The film featured musical actress Julie Andrews of Mary Poppins fame in her role as the musical's leading protagonist, Maria, who is the governess of a rich Captain von Trapp's children.
In "My Favorite Things," Maria describes all the things that make her feel better when she is sad, like "Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woollen mittens." However, it is not an essentially happy song and is written in a minor key, and only at the end of the song, when she sings "I think of a few of my favorite things, and then I don't feel so bad" does the underlying harmony reflect this release of negative emotion through a happy major harmonic turn.
This song famously appears in a scene in the film when the von Trapp children she looks after are frightened and go to her room during a thunderstorm, and she sings it to comfort them. This change to the original Broadway positioning of the song has remained in most stage productions.
Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass recorded a popular cover of this song, as did Björk, who sang it in her movie Dancer In The Dark
. Many Jazz musicians have also recorded the song, including Dave Brubeck, John Coltrane and Stanley Jordan. Coltrane's version was the basis for some of the organ and guitar parts on the the album version of The Doors' "Light My Fire
On the television program 100 Greatest Songs From Musicals, Julie Andrews said of this song, "I think, personally 'My Favorite Things' was the song I love to sing the most. The lyrics were so great and it was so evocative everything one sang one could see the picture brown paper packages, raindrops on roses and things like that."
For Julie Andrews' 69th birthday celebration, she performed "My Favorite Things" at the Manhattan's Radio City Music Hall benefit for the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), but significantly changed the lyrics. Among the revised lyrics: "Cadillacs and cataracts and hearing aids and glasses, Polident and Fixodent and false teeth in glasses. Pacemakers, golf carts and porches with swings. These are a few of my favorite things."
Another notable version of this song was performed by singer and conductor Bobby McFerrin, known for his 1988 song "Don't Worry Be Happy
." McFerrin performed this song in Copenhagen in a surprising variety of musical styles, wowing listeners with his amazing range of vocal techniques and his sensitive multi-voiced improvisations. The video of this performance
went viral on YouTube.
This song name is also the title of jazz saxophonist John Coltrane's seventh album, My Favorite Things, released in 1961. The album features no jazz standards but five reworked popular tunes by the likes of Gershwin and Porter, including a thirteen minute instrumental version of "My Favorite Things." Coltrane said that "you've got to go back at the old things and see them in a new light." Through Coltrane's bebop rendition, this song was divorced from its popular roots and transformed into what has been described as a "hypnotic, Eastern dervish dance." This comment is in reference to Coltrane's interest with Indian music inspired by his friend, Ravi Shankar, who introduced him to the Indian raga scale that Coltrane used in his solo for this song.
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