I Wan'na Be Like You

Album: The Jungle Book (1967)
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Songfacts®:

  • Next to "The Bare Necessities", "I Wan'na Be Like You" or to give it its full title "I Wan'na Be Like You (The Monkey Song)", is probably both the best known and the best song from the 1967 Walt Disney animation The Jungle Book. It was composed by the Sherman Brothers - Richard and Robert - and is performed in the cartoon by King Louis (who is an Orangutan with rhythm) together with a monkey chorus, and joined shortly by Baloo the Bear as an Orangutan in drag - yes, this really is a family show! King Louis wants to walk and talk like a man, but he also wants to learn the secret of making fire.

    The song has a jazzy feel to it, and at the end, Baloo is unmasked. It is not only Orangutans who want to walk like men, in 1970 it was recorded by Pinky and Perky, the famous television pigs - perhaps they should have read Animal Farm instead? >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England
  • When the Sherman Brothers were writing this, they didn't know that Louis Prima, a popular Italian American singer and trumpeter, would be voicing King Louie. Richard Sherman told Performing Songwriter in 2014: "We didn't know that Louis was going to be the voice. We wanted to write a song for a swinger, make a comedy song about the king of the apes, the king of the swingers. The whole idea was to do a Dixieland jazz, scat-singing song, and we came up with 'I Wan'na Be Like You.' At a certain point, after we were demonstrating this song in the story conferences, the idea of who will do it came up, and Louis Prima and Sam Butera and the Witnesses were holding court at that time down in Las Vegas, so we thought, 'If he would go for this, it would be great.'"

    Robert Sherman added: "So we went down there and we played it for them, and they had very serious, professorial looks on their faces and when it was over with, Louis said, 'You want to make a monkey out of me? Well then, you got me!'"
  • King Louie not only had Prima's voice, he also had his moves. Prima and his band were so lively onstage that Disney animators copped their movements for the film. Richard Sherman recalled: "These guys were so marvelous. On stage, they were the wildest thing you've ever seen, jumping around. Louis Prima was magnificent, he was all over the place. In fact, when we recorded the song on the soundstage, the Disney animators came down and filmed them in black and white so they could get their movements, and they included a lot of the movements that the musicians were doing in the monkey sequence."
  • Baloo the Bear was voiced by Phil Harris, a comedian and musician who gained prominence as the drunken bandleader on Jack Benny's popular radio program in the 1930s.
  • Smash Mouth recorded this for the 2003 sequel The Jungle Book 2. It plays over the end credits.
  • Richard Sherman wrote new lyrics for Christopher Walken's performance as King Louie in the 2016 live-action adaptation of The Jungle Book. In this version, Louie isn't an orangutan but a Gigantopithecus - a giant ape species native to India.
  • This has also been covered by Robbie Williams, Fall Out Boy, Phish, Craig David, The Jonas Brothers, and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.

Comments: 1

  • Phillip Schubert from Sydney Nsw AustraliaHere are the complete lyrics to "I Wanna Be Like You (The Monkey Song)" that my son and I worked out yesterday. Enjoy!

    A baba doop doop doobi-doop

    Now I'm the king of the swingers, oh, the jungle V.I.P.
    I've reached the top and had to stop, and that's what's botherin' me.
    I wanna be a man, man-cub, and stroll right into town
    And be just like the other men, I'm tired of monk'in around!

    Oh, oobie-doo! (hoop dee weep)
    I wanna be like you-oo-oo. (hop ta woobie dooba)
    I wanna walk like you, (cheep) talk like you, (cheep) too-oo-oo (weebie deebie doo)
    You'll see it's true-oo-oo (shoobideedoo)
    An ape like me-ee-ee (scoobie doobie doobie)
    Can learn to be hu-oo-oo-man too-oo-oo.

    R-r-r-r-roopatichiko! R-r-r-rupachikee!
    Spukitcha pukitcha pukitcha pukitcha pukitcha sa-bik bang ronka wonka wheee-heee!

    Now here's your part of the deal, cuz:
    Lay the secret on me of man's red fire.

    Now don't try to kid me, man-cub!
    I made a deal with you.
    What I desire is man's red fire
    To make my dream come true.
    Now, gimme the secret, man-cub!
    C'mon, clue me what to do.
    Give me the power of man's red flower
    So I can be like you.

    Hey!
    Da zop bon lonay!
    Hop ta deep da labba dop don lone!
    Uhn nebbadebet!
    Doot zabba doot da day, doot bop da boop da day, za bon, za bop bop bobbay!
    Hobadoo-dee!
    Widda beep ba naza!
    Hebba dabba doy!
    Widda la ba zini.
    Whudlabut, whoodlabut.
    Zeebladut doodie.
    Hoo! Hoo! Hoo! Hoo!
    Widda ha-ha-ha!
    Ha-rrawrr-rrawrr!
    Get mad, baby!
    Hudaluddle hudalut!
    Widda hut lutta huttle doodie.
    Hodle dodle deedle doot!
    Gazupa doota dut-dut-dut.
    Dooladoot! Dooladoot!
    Gazeebadabah, hahbadah!

    Yoo-hoo-hoo! (hoop dee weep) I wanna be like you-hoo-hoo! (hoptee woobie-doobie)
    I wanna walk like you, (cheep) talk like you, too-oo-oo. (weebie-deebie-deebie-deebie)
    You'll see it's true-oo-oo (shoobidee doo).
    Some one like me (oobie-doobie-doobie)
    Can learn to be like someone like me! (Take me home, daddy!)
    Can learn to be like someone like you! (One more time! Yeah!)
    Can learn to be like someone like me-eee!
    Zee dee bee bop-bop boddle doodle daht n daht n daht n daht n daht n…..maaahhhhn.
    Special bonus! King Louie's opening scat improvisation:

    Wabadoo ding da deet ding loo
    La dood lio d'zing boing
    Skabadoo hoobidee zeebadoo zep
    Dulip dooding moing

    Wanna be a man man moing moing orang morang adang adango….
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