When you have kids, you know they’re going to constrict your cultural experiences because you won’t have much time anymore for those languorous restaurant meals, nights at the cinema, lectures, concerts, etc. In short, you’re in for a grim few years. That being said, most of us don’t expect that our cultural horizons may actually be broadened by having children. That’s what happened to me.
It’s so easy to fall into the trap of buying the Thomas the Tank Engine, Baby Einstein, Wiggles crap that passes for popular toddler entertainment these days. Pop that sucker into the VCR and it’s instant 30 minutes of tranquility on the baby front. But if you figure that stuff insults your intelligence and probably will insult your child’s (even if they appear to like it), then you’ve got to work hard to find alternatives. My alternatives usually run to the classics. For music, it’s Pete Seeger, Sweet Honey in the Rock and the like. For video, give me the Disney Classics (and Warner Brothers cartoons too) anytime. We’ve managed to find Fantasia, Bambi, Silly Symphonies, Dumbo at Costco and ordered Snow White from Amazon Marketplace.
Dumbo is an absolute classic. It’s almost revelatory cartooning. If you look at the Silly Symphonies cartoons of the early 30s, you’ll see some ingenious, inventive cartooning. But the storylines, drawing and characterization are all bare-bones and basic. They are elements of an artistic whole that is still gestating and in-the-making. Yes, there is music, there is drawing, there is character development. But all of these seem to exist as distinct elements.
In Dumbo, they all fuse together in an organic whole. I remember the first time I watched the film I thought I was watching the equivalent of a cartoon musical–just as bold and enveloping as any of the great Broadway musicals of the era. Listen to any of the wonderful Dumbo songs like Casey Jr. (Comin’ Down the Track), Look Out for Mr. Stork, When I See an Elephant Fly, the vivid, but politically objectionable Song of the Roustabouts, and Baby Mine, and you immediately notice that they function within the film in the same way that the great Broadway songs do. They illuminate character, they embody action, they advance the plot. In a word, they are seamless and organic to the film itself. The composers were recognized for their achievement when they won an Oscar for Best Musical Scoring.
Many film critics rank it as one of the greatest animated films of all time. Jon Fortgang, writing at Britain’s Channel 4, says:
Touching, comic, visually inventive and emotionally convincing, this remains a jewel in the crown of Disney’s golden age.
I certainly agree.
Baby Mine is one of the sweeter, more touching lullabies of film history. As it’s sung, you see the entire circus menagerie bed down in their railroad cars for the night with mom and dad animals cuddling their “new arrivals.” Of course, Dumbo and his mom are the only ones who cannot share in this bliss as she is chained up for her “bad behavior.” They must settle for twining trunks together through the prison bars. Both the music and the action combine to create a powerful emotional experience.
I was delighted to discover that Disney, which is very smart and hip in the ways it markets its film music, enlisted Alison Krauss to cover the song for Country Disney: The Best of Country Sing the Best of Disney (1996). Alison always conveys a song impeccably and she does so once more with Baby Mine (hear it). It’s just the sweetest and most lovely cover you can imagine. The original was nominated for Best Song Oscar (it lost out to Hammerstein and Kern’s The Last Time I Saw Paris). Bonnie Raitt also covered the song for another Disney tribute album. Her version is cool and slightly bluesy. It’s nice, but I’ll take Alison’s version any day.
I wanted to listen to the Alison Krause mp3 of Baby Mine, but the link to the mp3 did not work. Any chance that the link will be fixed?
Richard Silverstein says
Steven: The e mail addresses you used in leaving yr msg. bounced so I have no direct way of writing you. At any rate, thanks for alerting me to the broken link which I’ve fixed. You can now listen to the file at yr pleasure.
Thanks for visiting & come back again sometime.
Tamara R Rogerson says
I’m not sure if you are ok with this but i’m asking and am unsure of how to go about it. I’ve been searching for this song, baby mine by allison krauss, so that i can copy the URL to my myspace page. I feel it would be perfect for my myspcce because its just full of my newborn’s pictures and us as a family, but unfortunately i am unable to play the song for some unknown reason and also don’t know how to copy this URL. I even own this song myself and can’t find a code generator so that I can put it on there. Is there any way you can help me?
My grandmother use to sing Baby Mine to me,The dumbo version, i could never find the song anywhere, living im Minnesota, and not having a pc, now i finally found it, heard it and started to cry, my grandmoms gone now, but hearing that song, brings back sush wonderful memories. I was about 6 then, im 50 now.
Richard Silverstein says
What a touching story, Tuesday. I can just envision your grandmom rocking you off to sleep singing Baby Mine. Such a lovely memory it must be.
C. Foster says
Baby Mine is a beautiful song. I am trying to find out
who ownes the music rights to use it?
If anyone has any suggestions, it would be
I sing ‘Baby Mine’ to my year and a half old daughter all the time, and I would love to get her a music box that plays the tune for Christmas… but I’m not having much luck. I know it’s a long shot, but any suggestions?
I sing this to my daughter too (she is only 2 months). I realize you asked about the music box 2 years ago, but it is Christmas again….anyway I found a site where they will make one that plays the instrumental of Baby Mine, and it’s not too pricy – http://www.musicboxattic.com – I am going to make one for her for Christmas this year.
Kathy DB says
Baby Mine is on Alison’s CD A Hundred Miles or More: A Collection.