My Favorite Things (song)
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|"My Favorite Things"|
|Lyricist||Oscar Hammerstein II|
|Recorded by||Mary Martin & Patricia Neway (1959),
John Coltrane (1961-1967),
Julie Andrews (1965),
The Supremes (1965),
Herb Alpert (1968),
Carrie Underwood (2013),
Kelly Clarkson (2013)
and various others
The song was first sung as a duet between Maria (played by Mary Martin) and Mother Abbess (Patricia Neway) in the original 1959 Broadway production and by Julie Andrews in The Garry Moore Show's 1961 Christmas special and the 1965 film.
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.
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."
In 2004 the movie version of "My Favorite Things" finished at #64 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs survey of top tunes in American cinema.
In popular culture
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 and New Thing at Newport in 1965, Live at the Village Vanguard Again! and Offering: Live at Temple University in 1966, and The Olatunji Concert: The Last Live Recording in 1967. 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, as the song mentions warm-woolen mittens, brown paper packages tied up with strings, sleigh bells, snowflakes, silver white winters etc. 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 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 on her 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
Al Jarreau recorded the song featuring Katheleen Battle in his album released in 2006 titled Tenderness.
Lauryn Hill recorded a remix of the song in 2012, titled "Black Rage."
Petula Clark recorded the song for a Pye Records Various Artists EP of songs from The Sound of Music in 1961. She subsequently recorded the song again in 1981 for the cast album of the show's London revival which she was then starring in.
A humorous and slightly risqué version in Portuguese by Manuel João Vieira appeared in the TV mini-series Um Mundo Catita.
- 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."