Monday, February 22, 2016

Disney Song #7: There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow / The Best Time of Your Life

Carousel of Progress:  There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow / The Best Time of Your Life
Tomorrowland WDW: TAGBBT / TBTOYL
Tomorrowland Tokyo: TAGBBT / TBTOYL

The Facts:
  • Composers: Richard and Robert Sherman / Dan Foliart (remixes)
  • Year: 1964 (There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow) / 1974 (The Best Time of Your Life)
  • Key: several

Heard In: 
Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress

As the narrator says in the Carousel of Progress pre-show, you're in for a real treat!  While the Carousel of Progress is far from Disney World's most popular attraction, it is perhaps the one that most symbolizes Walt and his vision of progress, the past, and the future all at once.  It began as a partnership between Disney and General Electric at the landmark 1964 World's Fair, and it then moved to Disneyland where it stayed until closing in 1973.  The show's signature song was "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" by the Sherman Brothers.

In 1975, it opened in Disney World, and GE asked the Sherman Brothers to write a new song that focused more on the present than the future.  "The Best Time of Your Life" was born, and that was the song that I was familiar with as a kid.  GE ended its sponsorship in 1985, and then in 1993 the show closed for refurbishment and reopened with the return of "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow."

If you've never seen the show, it lasts about 20 minutes and is housed in a round theater that rotates.  The first quarter of the show takes place at the dawn of the 20th century, and we see a family (played by audio-animatronic figures) that is talking about their daily life in the context of new inventions and technologies at their disposal.  After 5 minutes, the audience rotates to the second act which is a family in the 1920's.  Then the third act is in the 1940's, and the fourth act is in the present day.  There's also a seasonal element as the first act is in the spring, the second act is the 4th of July, the third act is fall, and the fourth act is Christmas.

For me, the show is very evocative and one that I always make a point to see whenever I am in Disney World.  There's something about the various backdrops of the summertime urban American Flags, the rural autumn leaves, and the family sitting together at Christmas time that makes me feel warm and fuzzy.  In particular, the 1940's autumn scene really appeals to me. The father has a bright red sweater and is sitting in his kitchen on a light blue booth that looks like it came from a restaurant (which I always thought would be the coolest thing -- to have a restaurant booth in your house).  Often times in the fall I will look outside at the falling leaves and find myself starting to hum, "It's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow."  It's optimism, nostalgia, spirituality, future, and family all in one.

One small gripe that I have is at the very end of the show where the father burns the Christmas turkey and the son says something like, "Don't worry Dad, someday things will be so automated that we won't ever have to cook a Christmas turkey again."  Some automation is good, but I wouldn't want a society so automated that we don't ever have to lift a finger; plus, cooking can be fun.

As for the music, both songs to me are equally great and are tied together in my mind which is why I'm including them in one post.  Originally I had them rated a bit lower, but I've since discovered the Tomorrowland loops (which play in the background when you're walking around Tomorrowland): one from Florida and one from Tokyo (they are slightly different) which I linked to at the top of this post.  They are the work of film composer Dan Foliart, and they include futuristic sounding remixes of both Carousel of Progress songs.  Bravo, Dan Foliart!! These remixes are insanely good -- the Tokyo version of Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow is particularly mind-blowing and revelational and may be the coolest thing I've ever heard -- and the reason that these songs made it into the top 10.

One other note about Foliart's Tokyo loop -- there's another song in there that really caught my ear.  It's called "The Monorail Song," and I also found a full orchestral version.  This song is awesome!  I couldn't find much background information on it, but it's a great song and one that I would have definitely included high on my list had I known of it before I started my countdown. And why is this song not played while riding the monorails?!  

No comments:

Post a Comment