The melody first appears as George Banks marches into the front door of his home. At that point in the film, the song is bouncy in nature to reflect Banks' triumphant spirit. The song is then titled, "The Life I Lead". It is reprised several times throughout the film. The final reprise is sung when Banks thinks he has lost everything, during which the music somber and the song itself retitled as, "A Man Has Dreams".
This song is pivotal in both the stage musical as well as the film.
According to Disney archival records, the song was originally titled "Mr. Banks and Bert Converse" but the title was changed to its present one, prior to first print publication of sheet music. "A Man Has Dreams" are the first four words of the song; they are not repeated after that.