Thursday, July 16, 2015

Disney Song #76: Why Should I Worry?

To Listen:  Click Here

The Facts:
  • Writers: Dan Hartman and Charlie Midnight
  • Performer:  Billy Joel
  • Year: 1988
  • Key:  G Major / B Flat Major

Heard In: 
Oliver and Company

When it comes to Disney movies, Oliver and Company is not one that gets a lot of attention.  The movie, an adaptation of Dickens' Oliver Twist but with cats and dogs in New York City, premiered in 1988, one year before The Little Mermaid and the beginning of what is referred to as the "Disney Renaissance," a long stretch of yearly films that signified the return to glory of Disney animation.  Poor Oliver traditionally gets left out of any Renaissance talk, but yet it was the success of Oliver and Company and its Broadway-style musical numbers that led to The Little Mermaid getting made the next year.  So it's time to pay this movie the respect that it deserves!

Musically Speaking:
The first thing that comes to mind of when I think of this movie?  The song we're celebrating today, "Why Should I Worry?"  It's a snappy, fun tune sung with great gusto by none other than Billy Joel, the voice of Dodger the dog in the movie.  I'm from outside of Allentown, PA, and Joel's famous rendition of "Allentown" is often the first thing people mention when they learn where I'm from.  The song doesn't exactly put the big A in the most favorable light, but in Joel's defense it is fair to say that things haven't been all puppy dogs and rainbows in the old steel and factory town.  But I'm happy to say that our great city is experiencing a resurgence including some exciting new downtown development, so maybe Mr. Joel can come up with an inspiring sequel about Allentown's rise from the ashes.

Back to the song -- it starts out with a cool vibe (to match Dodger's swagger) and then takes a fun and surprising turn at the key change.  Great lyrics too (I especially like "sweet savoir faire"). The idea behind the song (i.e. not worrying so much) makes this song seem like the spiritual ancestor of "Hakuna Matata."

Personal Connection:
I vaguely remember seeing Oliver and Company when it debuted, and I hadn't seen it since. I noticed that it was only 73 minutes, so I thought "Why not watch it again?" and I checked it out from the local library.  And I liked it!  Oliver is a fun character and extremely likable, as is Jenny, the little girl who adopts Oliver.  Cheech Marin is great as the chihuahua, and there are some other recognizable voices including Joey Lawrence as Oliver and Bette Midler as the snooty Georgette. There's some genuinely emotional moments, and the streets of NYC prove to be a great locale for a Disney movie.  Coming up next post, I'll talk about the film with George Scribner, the director.

One other note, speaking of chihuahuas: I couldn't bring myself to include the theme to Beverly Hills Chihuahua on my countdown.  Just couldn't do it.  But it is a strangely catchy tune (that I'm almost embarrassed to admit), and since this post has already gone to the dogs, I thought that "Chihuahua" deserved at least a shout-out.

Additional Links:
If you like Oliver and Company, check out these fan clubs online:
Animation Source
Streets of Gold

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