The Sound of Music was one of the 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.
Many of the favorite things mentioned in this song don't cost a thing; raindrops on roses and silver-white winters, for example. Decades later, the "favorite things" concept became more materialistic, especially when Oprah Winfrey turned it into an annual event spotlighting products like DVD players and designer jeans. "Oprah's Favorite Things" became a buying guide for the holidays, which in turn associated the song with the Christmas season, pushing it onto more holiday playlists. With mentions of winter and sleigh bells, it's no less festive than other Christmas songs that don't specifically reference the holiday, but in modern times it became more about buying something than about making something or simply enjoying the beauty of your surroundings.
In 2018, Ariana Grande took the song into the luxury segment when she used the melody on her track "7 Rings," where she lists diamonds among her favorite things and sings about how money can indeed buy happiness:
Whoever said money can't solve your problems Must not have had enough money to solve 'em
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."
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."
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.
Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) botched the lyrics of this song on an episode of Friends (season one - "The One When Monica Gets a New Roommate"):
Raindrops on roses and rabbits and kittens Bluebells and sleighbells and something with mittens la la la la la la something with string....
Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn December 4th, 1966 the Supremes performed "My Favorite Things" on the CBS-TV program 'The Ed Sullivan Show'... R.I.P. Florence Ballard (1943 - 1976).
Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn December 1st, 1969, Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass performed "My Favorite Things" on the CBS-TV program 'The Ed Sullivan Show'... One year earlier on December 14th, 1968 the band's covered version entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart for a six week stay, peaking at #45... R.I.P. Mr. Sullivan (1901 - 1974) and Mr. Alpert will celebrate his 79th birthday this coming March 31st, 2014.
Guy from Woodinville, WaOne of the truly great moments in movie musicals.
Camille from Toronto, OhJulie Andrews introduced us to this song and did a fine job, but country singer Lorie Morgan does a cover of it on her Christmas album, and I like it even better. Even my teenage son loves it. Beautiful lyrics you can visualize, often gets radio play around Christmastime.