Friday, March 03, 2017

Disneyland Dwarfs, Pink Panther, Good Bad Ugly: Whistling Songs

Whistle While You Work:
I remember watching Disney cartoons when I was very young and loved Snow White (1937) with her seven dwarfs. One particular song, Whistle While You Work, enchanted me so much that I easily learnt the skill because I wanted to whistle the tune so badly. Music from the past has many of these whistling tunes. This posting is about some of them.

Coloney Bogey March:
Another one that became a whistling hit was the Colonel Bogey March written in 1914. Although not many people remember the title, they knew how to whistle, "that River Kwai song." The song was a powerful one because of its repetitive, simple melody and because it was from the soundtrack of the blockbuster, The Bridge On The River Kwai.

Prisoners of War:
The tune was played when the POW's marched towards the prison camp and is not to be mistaken with the orchestral counter-march composed in 1957 by Malcolm Arnold. Both marches had been recorded together by Mitch Miller and his Orchestra as March from the River Kwai - Colonel Bogey.

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly:
In 1966, Singapore film goers went wild with a spaghetti western called, The Good, The Bad And The Ugly and the main theme, composed by Ennio Morricoe, echoed for months everywhere.
Clint Eastwood:
Hugo Motenegro had a version using the Moog synthesizer that went up to number two on the Billboard Pop Single Chart in 1968. And gunslinger Clint Eastwood (image) clinched it again. It was so popular that it had been covered by our local group, The Stylers.

I Whistle A Happy Tune:
The very pretty Deborah Kerr appeared in a movie that fascinated both young and old. The King And I (1956) showed for weeks at the Cathay Cinema in the 50s and a song that kept everyone bright and cheerful was, I Whistle A Happy Tune.

The King And I:
In the movie, it was performed on board a ship when teacher Andrews was on her way to meet Yul Brynner the King. To ease her son's fear and tension, she sang and whistled the song. It became a hit with other songs in the show.

The Pink Panther Theme:The Henry Mancini Pink Panther Theme (1963) has not been recorded as a whistling song but an instrumental composition that whistled its way to a nomination at the Academy Award for Original Music Score in 1964. It won three awards. Because of the Pink Panther cartoon character and Peter Sellers' success with the movie series, the song soared its way up the charts.

Inspector Clouseau:
The movie about the pink cartoon character was animated in time to the tune. It became successful commercially and made bungling Inspector Clouseau (Peter Sellers), a character in the Pink Panther series. It was directed by special Oscar winner *Blake Edwards. 

Roger Whittaker:
There are many whistling tunes? Do you know one that you like? Have you heard of Roger Whittaker? He whistles most of his songs like Mexican Whistler, Pretty Bird, River Lady and classics like The Elizabethan Serenade. It's a nice ending to introduce one of the best whistlers in pop history like Whittaker. But that's another story...

Image: Google.
Original article: Andy Lim.

The best whistling song ever from regular reader and contributor, Steven Farram:


Unk Dicko said...

Hi Andy,
Thanks for reviving all these sweet memories. Everyone of the tunes is special to many of us in different ways.
On hikes, where the load on our back is heavy and the road is so, so long...what really helped was not a can of coke but everyone whistling " Colonel Bogey's March aka "River Kwai", all happily again and again.
No singing ( no lyrics right? ) so we were all v good at whistling!
No wonder some girls fell for it!

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

You must have attracted a lot of young ladies unk Dicko in your youth.

I asked a young man recently what a wolf-whistle is. He didn't know!

Thanks for visiting.

Lam Chun See said...

Do you remember that RTS used to broadcast the Roger Whittaker Show. I really amazed by his whistling skill. So beautiful. My favourite RW songs are What Love Is and The Last Farewell.

The other 2 musics shows I liked was Des O'Connor and Val Doonican shows. Not big fan of Andy Williams.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Yes, I remember these shows and most of them sang the 'standards', so when Elvis came with his internal inferno, they were partially burnt.

But most of them could withstand the heat and survived till today.
Instead Elvis got burnt.

But they all kept the flames high for many years.

Thanks for visiting.

Lam Chun See said...

Here's a sample of Roger Whittaker;'s magical whistling.


ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thank you Chun See. I had wanted to do a posting of Whittaker at another time and connect the blog to his You Tube videos.

Anonymous said...

i love pink panthar song. we watch movie too.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Really one of the cutest songs ever.

The music feels like the way sleuth Inspector Clouseau stalks his prey.

Thimbuktu said...

Thanks for the memories, Andy.

That poster of Clint Eastwood's "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" movie reminds me that I watched it when screened at the Globe Theatre in Great World Amusement Park.

I love that theme song and watched my favorite movie a few times when repeated screening in different cinemas.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

You must have also been whistling the tune for months on end. It's one of those tunes that can never be forgotten.

Thanks for visiting.

Unknown said...

Hi Andrew! This is my email thanks

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

This post has been rejuvenated. If you remember these whistling tunes, please write in, especially my FB friends, Twitter followers and Google+ theme specialists.


FL said...

Andy, one song just cropped out from my mind, and that's SUKIYAKI by Kyu Sakamoto. Part of the song has this whistling tune, and I quite this song from my teen-aged years till now ! I hope you are, too.


Hi Andy,
I remember my favourite 1956 tune The Happy Whistler by Don Robertson. This is also Brian Richmond's signature tune for his Sunday's Radio Program.


The song brings back many happy memories.


Andy, Julie Andrews wasn't in 'The King And I'. It was Deborah Kerr who sang 'I Whistle A Happy Tune'.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thank you. Julie Andrews did the sound recording later.


I just checked Wiki. A singer by the name of Marni Nixon sang the song and her voice was dubbed into the soundtrack.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Yes SK. But Julie Andrews did a recording in the early 90's. I guess it was just a slip of my mind. How can we forget Deborah Kerr.

Lots and lots of sound track singing done by others. Another one is THE SWEETHEART TREE sung by NATALIE WOOD in the movie, THE GREAT RACE. The song was also sung by someone else.

Thanks very much for pointing out my mistake.

EDWIN GOH said...

Thanks reminds me of the River Kwai and bridge I visited years ago. What a privilege.


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Anonymous said...

Hi Andy,

I think one of the biggest whistling hits of the 1960s was Whistling Jack Smith's 'I was Kaiser Bill's Batman'. You can see it on youtube.



chakap chakap said...

"I Was Kaiser Bill's Batman" was a hit single in 1967 composed by British songwriters Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway. It was a novelty record, being performed mostly by whistling. Song was suggested by Steve Farram.


Another good whistling tune is "The Happy Whistler"


We overlooked another big whistling tune: TUNES OF GLORY by MITCH MILLER AND HIS ORCHESTRA.


It's the theme song, "March Of The River Kwai" from the film of the same title.


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