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Thursday Treasures

January 5, 2012 by Brent Dodge

Recently I was asked to write an article for this site dealing with Disney and music. I'll be honest. I don't know much about music. I've always enjoyed listening to music, but I can't tell you too much about it . So when the request was made, it added some fun for me because (nerd alert!) that means I could do research!

The amazing thing is, the Disney company never really got its jump start until music joined the Disney family in 1928 with Steamboat Willie, so I feel its only appropriate to begin our story back in 1928!

The first time audiences ever saw Mickey Mouse on November 28, 1928 he was whistling a song which most Disney fans can recognize almost instantly, but the big question is, why did Walt chose this song (which would eventually define not only Mickey Mouse, but be featured in the opening of all Disney animated films starting with 2007's Meet the Robinsons)?


To answer that question, we need to take a look at the title of Mickey Mouse's first cartoon and figure out where the title originated from. Six months before Steamboat Willie was released a Buster Keaton film entitled Steamboat Bill Jr. was released. Realizing that both the Buster Keaton live action film and the Mickey Mouse cartoon both took place on a steamboat, Walt named the cartoon to parody the title of Steamboat Bill Jr. (even though it was not an extremely popular film).

Steamboat Bill Jr. in turn was named as a parody of a 1911 song by Arthur Collins called Steamboat Bill. To pay homage to the original song, Walt decided to open Steamboat Willie with Mickey whistling the tune to 1911's Steamboat Bill! What's the song sound like, click the link below to listen!


Like I said, I don't know a lot about music, but the research is beginning and soon I'll be boring you with Disney music knowledge in addition to the parks and movies!


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