Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Age of Not Believing

When you rush around in hopeless circles, 
Searching ev'rywhere for someplace true, 
You're at the age of not believing, 
When all the "make believe" is through. 

When you set aside your childhood heroes, 
And your dreams are lost upon a shelf, 
You're at the age of not believing, 
And worst of all, you doubt yourself. 

You're a castaway where no one hears you, 
On a barren isle in a lonely sea, 
Where did all the happy endings go? 
Where can all the good times be? 

You must face the age of not believing, 
Doubting ev'rything you ever knew, 
Until at last you start believing, 
there's something wonderful...
Truly wonderful in you. 

These lyrics were written by the wonderful song-writing team of Robert and Richard Sherman for the 1971 Walt Disney production "Bedknobs and Broomsticks". It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song and although it did not win ( "Theme from Shaft" won ) it remains one of the highlights of the movie and just as noteworthy a song over 40 years later, for it puts into words feelings we all have had at one time or another in our life. 

When "Mary Poppins" was in production in 1963 there were doubts that author P.L. Travers would give the studio clearance to finish the project and so as a back-up plan Walt Disney had his staff working on an adaption of another well-known English children's book classic "The Magic Bedknob" by Mary Norton. This project got placed on the back-burner while Mary Poppins pushed ahead, but after Walt's death "Bedknobs and Broomsticks" was put back in the spotlight again in 1969. 

"The Age of Not Believing" was a somewhat self-introspective song for the Sherman Brothers for they were going through a period when they began to doubt their ability to continue their song-writing success without Walt's guidance. The lyrics of the song perfectly capture a feeling we have all experienced in life....doubting one's self and one's abilities. 

When Angela Lansbury is singing this lovely tune it is aimed at Charlie, the 14 year old cockney boy, who is very self-assured and doesn't believe in magical things like flying beds. At the same time though, this song can be applied to all of us at any age in life. We all go through rough periods where the sun is hiding behind the clouds and we can't see the light at the end of the tunnel. We wonder "where did all the happy endings go? where can all the good times be?" 

In "Bedknobs and Broomsticks" we even see Miss Eglantine Price ( Angela Lansbury ) pausing for a moment to reflect on her doubts and her ambitions when she felt she had failed England by not creating the Substitutiary Locomotion spell in time for the war effort. 

The Sherman Brothers went on to create many more beautiful songs after this era in their life, proving that they overcame their "age of not believing".....just as we all do sooner or later. All we need is a little bit of faith. 

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