My Favorite Things (song)
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|"My Favorite Things"|
|Music by||Richard Rodgers|
|Lyrics by||Oscar Hammerstein II|
|Recorded by||Mary Martin & Patricia Neway (1959),
John Coltrane (1961),
Julie Andrews (1965),
The Supremes (1965),
Herb Alpert (1968),
Carrie Underwood (2013),
Kelly Clarkson (2013).
and various others
"My Favorite Things" is a popular show tune, originally from the 1959 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The Sound of Music. In recent times, due to the winter-related imagery in the lyrics, it has become popular as a Christmas song.
The Sound of Music version
In the musical, the lyrics to the song are a reference to things Maria loves, such as "Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens". These are the things she selects to fill her mind with when times are bad.
The original Broadway musical places this song in the Mother Abbess's office, just before she sends Maria to serve Captain von Trapp's family as governess to his seven children. However, Ernest Lehman, the screenwriter for the film adaptation, repositioned this song so that Maria would sing it with the children during the thunderstorm scene in her bedroom, replacing "The Lonely Goatherd", which had originally been sung at this point. Many stage productions also make this change, shifting "The Lonely Goatherd" to another scene.
The first section of the melody has the distinctive property of using only the notes 1, 2, and 5 (Do, Re, and So) of the scale. Rodgers then harmonized this same section of the melody differently in different stanzas, using a series of minor triads one time and major triads the next. This song has 16 bars of D minor 7, followed by eight bars of E b minor 7 and another eight of D minor 7. Thus, it has an AABA structure.
The happy, optimistic lyrics---"Cream-colored ponies and crisp apple strudel"---are just a counterpoint and cover up an undercurrent of fear. As noted above, the song was written to be sung by a young woman scared of facing new responsibilities outside the convent. In the film script the song is repositioned, with Maria singing it to the von Trapp children during the thunderstorm; but the terror contained in the melody is still the dominant emotion.
The song ends with a borrowed line of lyric and notes from Rodgers' earlier composition with Lorenz Hart, "Glad to Be Unhappy", a standard about finding peace in the midst of unrequited love. Using the same two notes for the phrasing of "so sad" in the original song, Rodgers brings the gloom of my "Favorite Things" to a similar upbeat ending-–-"and then I don't feel so bad".
Jazz artist John Coltrane did an extended, close to fourteen-minute version in E minor on his 1961 album taken from the title of the song. It became a jazz classic and a signature for Coltrane in concert, also appearing on Newport '63 in 1963, Live at the Half Note: One Down, One Up in 1965 and Live at the Village Vanguard Again! in 1966. Coltrane's version differs significantly from the song as originally conceived, using modal patterns and being much darker and more frenzied in feel.
A Christmas song
The wintertime imagery of the lyrics has made "My Favorite Things" a popular selection during the Christmas Holiday season. It has appeared on many Christmas albums, including:
- 1964: Jack Jones on his album The Jack Jones Christmas Album
- 1965: Eddie Fisher on his album Mary Christmas
- 1965: Andy Williams on his album Merry Christmas. He had also done a duet of the song with his wife, Claudine Longet, and premiered it on the The Andy Williams Show.
- 1968: Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass on their album Christmas Album. This version became a #45 Billboard 100 hit single the following year.
- 1970: Rick Wilkins and the Mutual Understanding on their album Christmas with Rick Wilkins and the Mutual Understanding
- 1993: Lorrie Morgan on her album Merry Christmas from London. This version received Christmas airplay in 1994 and again in 1999, bringing it to #64 and #69, respectively, on the Hot Country Songs charts in those years.
- 1994: The Whispers on their album Christmas Moments
- 2000: Vanessa Williams, Plácido Domingo, and Tony Bennett on their Live concert Christmas special, Our Favorite Things: Christmas in Vienna
- 2004: Dionne Warwick on her album My Favorite Time of Year
- 2005: Rod Stewart on the album Sounds Of The Season
- 2010: Borgore on his album "Borgore Ruined Dubstep, Pt. 1"
- 2011: Deana Martin recorded “White Christmas” on her 2011 album “White Christmas.”
- 2011: Chicago included a Latin/Brazilian jazz infused version on their album Chicago XXXIII: O Christmas Three
- 2012: Avila on their single Curtains, used on Victoria's Secret Holiday Campaign
- 2013: Jim Brickman on his album The Magic of Christmas
Other cover versions
- Notes, lyrics, mp3s, different versions compared
- "My Favorite Things at 50," public radio documentary on the 50th anniversary of John Coltrane's rendition of "My Favorite Things."