When I read that Robert Sherman, one half of The Sherman Brothers had passed away, I immediately put on "A Man Has Dreams" from my Mary Poppins soundtrack. This double reprise sums up the moral of the story with new lyrics to Mr. Banks main song "The Life I Lead" as well as "A Spoonful Of Sugar." I realize I was four when this movie came out, but I guess I was an old Jewish man even at that age, for the melancholy, the regret, the bittersweet quality of this remarkable few minutes of song made me feel deeply for these characters.
The remarkable orchestrations by Irwin Kostal didn't hurt, but that's another tribute.
It is the brilliant music and lyrics of The Sherman Brothers that touched me, as millions of others can say. There are now many generations (mine was only the first) that feel like The Sherman Brothers scored our childhood. I can say they had as much impact on my adult life, for the songs they wrote inspired me to want to become a songwriter. I can remember staring at that album cover for hours and hours as "Feed The Birds," "Stay Awake" and "Let's Go Fly A Kite" lifted me with their purity and genius.
When I went to see the remarkable documentary their sons made entitled The Boys, I was so moved I, without exaggeration, made such sounds from sobbing that people in the theatre thought a cow in a bear trap must have wandered in off of Wilshire Blvd. As I told friends later, you should see this movie if you: 1) grew up with Mary Poppins, 2) have a sibling, a parent, a child, or a spouse, 3) ever created something, 4) ever had a mentor, 5) know someone whose creativity is at odds with their personality, 6) ever stopped to think of what Walt Disney accomplished, 7) know a war veteran, 8) know, yet love, a Jew, 9) breath air on Planet Earth.
Robert Sherman and his brother had an extraordinarily complicated relationship, but there is nothing complicated about the relationship between his work and millions of folks like myself, who felt like they had lost a family member when we heard the news of his passing. Could there be any greater testament to a creative person then to know that your work could generate that kind of feeling in millions of strangers?
I hope Robert Sherman knew how we all felt. I've been lucky enough to meet Richard Sherman and tell him myself. I was not lucky enough to meet Robert, but I thank him for touching my little four-year-old heart by expressing his. R.I.P.
Crossposted with Broadway World.