The Life I Lead

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"The Life I Lead" is a song from the 1964 Walt Disney film Mary Poppins, composed by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman. Academy Award winning music arranger, Irwin Kostal used the theme from this song as the leitmotif of the protagonist "George Banks", as it most expresses the way he "marches" through life.

The song is first sung as George Banks (played by David Tomlinson) marches through the front door of his home, on "[his] return from daily strife to hearth and wife".[1] The song is reprised several times throughout the film, with Julie Andrews also singing a verse. The final reprise is sung when Banks thinks he has lost everything. The music is now more somber and is retitled, "A Man Has Dreams". This song is considered a patter song, meaning that it is half-spoken and half-sung in rhythm, similar to Rex Harrison's songs in My Fair Lady, or some of the songs by Noël Coward.

  • Some lyrics of the song say:
Lyricist Robert B. Sherman was making an inside comment about his own life. Having just secured a position with the Walt Disney Company, he also purchased a home in Beverly Hills, California. The house is located at 601 North Oakhurst Drive. In the lyric, 6:01 is a reference to time. In the songwriter's personal life, it was the address of his home. Although he moved away from that house in 1969, years later a more recent owner put up a plaque which reads: "Casa Poppins" because it was in that house that Sherman lived during the writing of Mary Poppins. The plaque is still at that location.
  • An adaptation of this song called "Precision and Order" is evident in the stage musical version.
  • This song is the only time it is mentioned what year the film is set in; "It's grand to be an Englishman in 1910 / King Edward's on the throne; it's the age of men!"

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