A Spoonful of Sugar
|"A Spoonful of Sugar"|
45 RPM vinyl cover artwork
|Single by Julie Andrews|
|Label||Walt Disney Records|
|From the film Mary Poppins
It is an uptempo song sung by Mary Poppins (Julie Andrews), instructing the two children, Jane (Karen Dotrice) and Michael (Matthew Garber) to clean their room. But even though the task is daunting, with a good attitude, it can still be fun. The melody is heard throughout the film as Mary's leitmotif. As part of the interlude, she sees that Michael couldn't get out of the closet doors that open and close rapidly.
In the musical, Robertson Ay and Mrs. Brill are helping Mrs. Banks for a tea party she's planning. Mrs. Brill tells Robertson Ay to make the frosting, which the kids try to do instead, despite Robertson Ay giving them warnings. After Jane sends him to get hot water, it comes out with the force of a cannon and causes Robertson Ay to run into the furniture, destroying the kitchen in the process. Mrs. Banks is shocked to see the kitchen in this shape, when she came down with Mary Poppins. Mary sends her upstairs to get dressed, while she gives Jane and Michael some medicine, which comes out in different colors and flavors, much like in the film. Cleaning the kitchen up is similar to cleaning up the nursery in the film with Mary magically putting it back together.
The song has characteristics of the fast-paced one-step, a popular dance in the 1910s.
History of the song
Julie Andrews was not yet committed for the part of Mary Poppins. She did not like the song that was written for her, believing it did not have enough snap to it. The original song was called "The Eyes of Love". Walt Disney instructed the Sherman Brothers to come up with something more catchy. Robert Sherman, the primary lyricist of the duo, arrived home from work one evening, having worked all day trying to come up with a song idea. As he walked in the door, his wife, Joyce, informed him that the children had gotten their polio vaccine that day. Robert asked one of his children if it hurt (thinking the child had received a shot). The child responded that the medicine was put on a cube of sugar and that he swallowed it. Realizing what he had, Robert Sherman arrived at work early the next morning with the title of the song "A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down". Sherman suggested the lyric to his brother, Richard, who was at first dismissive but slowly came around. At his brother's behest, Richard put melody to the lyric, and with that, the song was born.
On the TV show How I Met Your Mother, in the episode "Last Words", the character Robin Scherbatsky (portrayed by Cobie Smulders) implies to her friend, Ted Mosby (portrayed by Josh Radnor), that it's naive & childish of him to believe that what the kids were given with their medicine truly was sugar, rather implying that what the children were actually given with their medicine was (crack) cocaine, referencing the fact that the kids, at one point in the movie, attempted to jump into paintings with Poppins.
- Sherman, Robert B. Walt's Time: from before to beyond, Santa Clarita: Camphor Tree Publishers, 1998.