Great Songs in Films #4: “When You Wish Upon a Star” from Walt Disney’s Pinocchio (1940)

I debated whether to put this clip up given that, while the song on this clip is directly from the soundtrack of the film, this visuals obviously are not.  If any of you can find the clip  from Disney’s Pinocchio in which Jiminy Cricket sings “When You Wish Upon a Star,” please let me know.

Perhaps the most beautiful Disney song ever, “When You Wish Upon a Star” became so popular after it appeared in Pinocchio that it has been used by Disney in various contexts ever since,  a virtual company theme song.

Embarrassing confession: At times when adulthood feels so oppressive, and  when it  seems I can’t summon any of the feelings and images of childhood, it takes only three or four bars of this song to melt away years of cynicism. I tried to think of some appropriate words, but I am simply unable to describe how and why this song, more tha n any other, made me feel so safe and cared for as a child.

It was written by Leigh Harline and Ned Washington and first heard in the 1940 Walt Disney movie Pinocchio, and it won the Academy Award for Best Original Song that year.

The haunting, ethereal voice of Jiminy is Cliff Edwards, a major star of vaudeville and jazz.

The only music that I find even remotely as evocative of childhood are Robert Schumann’s Kinderszenen (“Scenes from Childhood”), Opus 15, a set of thirteen pieces of music for piano written in 1838. Von fremden Ländern und Menschen and Träumerei are my favorites. 


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