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Someday My Prince Will Come (1937)

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Origin and Chart Information
Miles [Davis] didn’t record his rendition until 1961, but it’s a classic nevertheless.

- Chris Tyle

Rank 240
Music Frank E. Churchill
Lyrics Larry Morey

In 1937 Walt Disney presented his first feature-length, animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The score, written by Leigh Harline, Frank Churchill, and Paul J. Smith, was nominated for an Oscar in 1938. Disney received an honorary award for significant screen innovation, but that was the only award given the film at the time. However, the movie has become a revered classic and is considered among the best of Disney’s work. It has received many awards over the years and is included in the National Film Registry. Its soundtrack holds the distinction of being the first ever issued since prior to then film music was re-recorded for release to the public.

 

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The eight songs introduced in the film were written by composer Churchill and lyricist Larry Morey who was also a sequencer for the film. The songs included “Whistle While You Work,” “Heigh Ho,” “With a Smile and a Song,” “I’m Wishing,” and the song that was to become a jazz standard, “Someday My Prince Will Come.” Eighteen-year-old Adriana Caselotti, the voice of Snow White, sang the song which was also used as background music. Although Adriana recorded the song, which can be heard in several collections, Disney owned her voice and refused to allow her to make public appearances or accept roles in other films (although she had a small part in The Wizard of Oz.) However, she did sing opera, invested wisely, and lived a full life.

The film was based on a tale by the brothers Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm. Snow White, a beautiful young princess, is pursued by her evil stepmother who is jealous of the fact that Snow White is considered the fairest in the land. The evil queen orders a hunter to kill Snow White, but he is struck by her sweet nature and allows her to escape into the woods where she meets the seven dwarfs who take her in and protect her. The song expresses her longing to be saved by her Prince Charming, who does, indeed, come for her and revive her with his kiss.

Pianist Bill Evan recorded “Someday My Prince Will Come” several times. The Dave Brubeck Quartet, famous for its odd time signatures, gave a twist to the song in 1958 and 1962 recordings. Trumpeter Donald Byrd and pianist and Oscar Peterson recorded it, and Miles Davis’ 1961 recording, Someday My Prince Will Come, featured a memorable solo by John Coltrane. Everyone from Julie Andrews to Chet Atkins to avant gardist Eugene Chadbourne and the Sun Ra Arkestra has recorded the song. Since 2000 it has been featured by drummer Cindy Blackman, the duo of drummer Steve Davis & guitarist Jeanfrancois Prins, violinist Didier Lockwood, vocalist Tierney Sutton, the Great Jazz Trio, Martin Taylor on solo guitar, and Lena Horne in her new 2007 release.

- Sandra Burlingame

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Reading and Research
Additional information for "Someday My Prince Will Come" may be found in:

Thomas S. Hischak
The American Musical Film Song Encyclopedia
Greenwood Press
Hardcover: 536 pages


(1 paragraph including the following types of information: summary.)
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Jazz History Notes

Although Miles Davis is usually given credit for introducing this Disney movie piece into the jazz repertoire, another trumpeter, Donald Byrd, was one of the first to record it in 1957; the album has never been reissued. That same year, pianist Dave Brubeck’s Quartet, with alto saxophonist Paul Desmond, did a splendid version as part of a themed album, Dave Digs Disney.

Pianist Bill Evans, highly respected in the jazz community, did a rendition with his trio for Riverside in 1959 that stands as one of the best, although Evans recorded several more versions over the years. Since Evans had been playing with Miles during 1958, one can speculate as to who influenced whom regarding their respective versions of the tune. In any case Miles didn’t record his rendition until 1961, but it’s a classic nevertheless.

Chris Tyle - Jazz Musician and Historian


Dave Brubeck
The Essential Dave Brubeck
Sony 86993

iTunes
Bill Evans
Portrait in Jazz
Original Jazz Classics/Riverside 1162
Original recording 1959
iTunes
Miles Davis
Someday My Prince Will Come
Sony
Original Recording 1961
iTunes
CD Recommendations for This Tune
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Ron Carter
The Bass and I
1997 Blue Note 59698
Original recording 1997
Bassist Carter leads the quartet through a light and airy version of the song that features shimmering piano from Stephen Scott and some inventive percussion from Steve Kroon.
iTunes
The Great Jazz Trio
Someday My Prince Will Come
2004 Columbia 92819

Brothers Hank Jones on piano and Elvin Jones on drums are joined by bassist Richard Davis on this imaginative, dissonant and highly enjoyable bop interpretation of the title track.
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Cassandra Wilson
Traveling Miles
1999 Blue Note 54123
Original recording 1999
A haunting, atmospheric reading of the song finds Wilson breathlessly singing over the gypsy-like sound of Lonnie Plaxico’s bass, Kevin Breit’s mandolin, and Regina Carter’s violin.
iTunes
Dr. Lonnie Smith
Too Damn Hot
2004 Palmetto Records

Hammond B-3 maestro Smith sets out on his own rhythmic course as the rhythm section sticks to waltz time, giving the song a joyously buoyant, off-kilter feeling. You can see him smiling through music.
iTunes

- Ben Maycock

Written by the Same Composer(s)...
This section shows the jazz standards written by the same writing team.

Frank E. Churchill and Larry Morey

Year Rank Title
1937 240 Someday My Prince Will Come

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