My Favorite Things (song)
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|"My Favorite Things"|
|Lyricist||Oscar Hammerstein II|
|Recorded by||Mary Martin & Patricia Neway (1959),
John Coltrane (1961–67),
Julie Andrews (1965)
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 No. 64 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs survey of top tunes in American cinema.
In popular culture
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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.
Other notable versions
The lyrics in 'My Favorite Things' compose mostly of Winter imagery (e.g. Snowflakes, Silver white winters, Geese flying at night, Mittens, Bright copper kettle, Packages tied up with strings, Sleigh bells) which has made 'My Favorite Things' a popular selection during the Christmas and holiday season. The song has appeared on numerous Christmas albums, including:
- 1964: Jack Jones on his album The Jack Jones Christmas Album
- 1965: Eddie Fisher on his album Mary Christmas
- 1965: Diana Ross and the Supremes on their album Merry Christmas
- 1965: Andy Williams on his album Merry Christmas (He also sang it as a duet with his wife, Claudine Longet on The Andy Williams Show)
- 1966: Kenny Burrell on his album Have Yourself a Soulful Little Christmas
- 1967: Barbra Streisand on her album A Christmas Album
- 1968: Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass on their album Christmas Album (reached #45 on the Billboard 100 the following year)
- 1968: Tony Bennett on his album Snowfall: The Tony Bennett Christmas Album
- 1969: Johnny Mathis on his album Give Me Your Love for Christmas
- 1970: Rick Wilkins and the Mutual Understanding on their album Christmas with Rick Wilkins and the Mutual Understanding
- 1981: Kenny Rogers on his album Christmas
- 1984: The Carpenters on their album An Old-Fashioned Christmas
- 1993: Lorrie Morgan on her album Merry Christmas from London (Christmas airplay in 1994 and again in 1999, bringing it to #64 and #69, respectively, on the Hot Country Songs chart)
- 1994: The Whispers on their album Christmas Moments Sampler
- 1995: Luther Vandross on his album This Is Christmas
- 1995: Russ Freeman on his album Holiday
- 1997: SWV on their album A Special Christmas
- 2000: Vanessa Williams, Plácido Domingo, and Tony Bennett on their Live concert Christmas special, Our Favorite Things: Christmas in Vienna
- 2002: Barry Manilow on his album A Christmas Gift of Love
- 2002: Anita Baker on her album Christmas Fantasy
- 2004: Dionne Warwick on her album My Favorite Time of Year
- 2005: The Brian Setzer Orchestra on their album Dig That Crazy Christmas
- 2005: Kenny G on his album The Greatest Holiday Classics
- 2005: Rod Stewart on the album Sounds of the Season: The NBC Holiday Collection
- 2007: Yolanda Adams on her album What a Wonderful Time
- 2007: Connie Talbot on her album Over the Rainbow
- 2008: Tony Bennett on his album A Swingin' Christmas (Featuring The Count Basie Big Band)
- 2009: Family Force 5 on their album Family Force 5 Christmas Pageant
- 2011: Deana Martin on her album White Christmas
- 2011: Carole King on her album A Holiday Carole
- 2011: Chicago on their album Chicago XXXIII: O Christmas Three
- 2011: The cast of Glee on Extraordinary Merry Christmas
- 2012: Avila on their single "Curtains", used on Victoria's Secret Holiday Campaign
- 2013: Kelly Clarkson on her album Wrapped in Red
- 2013: Jim Brickman on his album The Magic of Christmas
- 2013: Mary J. Blige on her album A Mary Christmas
- Whitburn, Joel (2008). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008. Record Research, Inc. p. 287. ISBN 0-89820-177-2.
- 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."