A Lost SNOW WHITE Lyric – found!

Here’s one for you Disney historians and cartoon musicologists. Brew reader Eric Graf has made a remarkable find which I hadn’t heard (literally!) before. I’ll let Eric, in his own words, share his research with you. Says Eric:

“Yesterday I found a 78 that I’d been searching for for years … the Victor Records soundtrack of the Dwarfs’ Yodel Song (aka “The Silly Song”) from Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs.

“Here’s the story as I understand it: Snow White was banned in Boston (and a few other cities IIRC) because of a verse in the Yodel Song that was supposedly off-color. Disney removed it from the Boston prints, and at some point also removed it from all the other versions of the movie.

“Since then Disney’s gone out of their way to pretend it never happened. It’s not included, or even mentioned, on any home video release I’m aware of, and it also isn’t on the Disney Snow White soundtrack CDs. But it WAS included on side 5 of the soundtrack album released by Victor Records in early 1938.

“My copy hails from the mid-40s, but it’s pressed from the original 1938 metal parts. The deleted verse is the one Sneezy sings starting at 1:04. It’s not off-color by today’s standards. Maybe a little unsanitary though… (Click to play embed sound file below)


“But here’s something else interesting, that I discovered while syncing up the 78 with a YouTube video of the song (Feh, wrong aspect ratio): The 78 is missing the dwarf’s vocals on the choruses.

“The chorus at :52, which starts with Snow White giggling, doesn’t match the backing track that’s in the movie (YouTube 1:09), but it does match the animation WAY better than the current version – if you ignore the singing dwarfs in the background. Snow White is obviously giggling on-screen (a perfect match to the 78), and the drum thing fits beautifully with Happy’s dance. On the current soundtrack – no giggling, no drum thing. But they’re singing.

“Then you get to the second sung chorus (at 1:51 on both the record and YouTube) – and the dwarf’s mouths aren’t moving! The onscreen dwarfs start singing at 1:59 with the yodeling – which is where they start on the 78 as well.

“The mid-50s Disneyland LP issue of the Snow White soundtrack matches the current version. Therefore, my inner Sherlock maintains that the 78 is the original mix, and that the vocals were left out of the movie by accident. They fixed the mistake at some point, but then they made another mistake – which still stands today – when they added vocals to the other chorus as well.”


  • http://www.meganlynch.com Megan Lynch

    It’s hilarious that that lyric was thought to be too off-color for a family movie. Very interesting find!

    I love this song. They had first class yodelers on this track.

  • Hans W.

    Wow! What an amazing discovery! And that at a time that we thought we knew everything about the original film… Way to go, Sherlock!

  • Hulk

    Sorry I don’t get it. What was the lyric that was taken out?

    • Matthew K Sharp

      SNEEZY:
      The minute after I was born
      I didn’t have a nighty
      So I tied my whiskers round my legs
      And they used ‘em for a dia… a dee… a du… [sneezes]

      Boston must have had very sensitive citizens in those days. Unless they found it as unsettling as I do that apparently dwarves are born with beards.

      This is an excellent find, BTW. The big question is, does the missing 17 seconds of vision exist anywhere? (If it does, I can see another Super-Duper Special Edition Blu-ray in the offing…)

      • Hulk

        Oh yeah. I heard it now. The problem was I watched it on my iphone first and the audio track alone didn’t show up. I think it’s funny. I wish they’d kept it in.

      • http://ramapithblog.blogspot.com David Gerstein

        Matthew, the proper lyrics should be:

        “So I tied my whiskers round my legs
        An’ I used ‘em for a *didee*… [sneeze]”

        Nobody says “didee” for diaper anymore, so I wouldn’t have guessed at it either if I didn’t have the lyrics on hand.

      • Matthew K Sharp

        Thanks, David. It did strike me as odd that “diaper” doesn’t rhyme with “nighty”, but I just typed what I heard.
        (In my part of the world we don’t even use the word “diaper”, let alone “didee”.)

  • http://www.segaltoons.com Steve Segal

    Great find Eric, and cool that you noticed that part of the track matches the visuals better than the released version. Disney was so good about archiving material, it seems that someone would have found this footage. Perhaps the “banned in Boston” story is an urban legend. Is it possible that Disney edited that verse simply because he felt that the song was going on too long? He did that for other parts of the film.

    • Eric Graf

      Perhaps, but there’s no doubt that Boston’s censors were plenty nuts enough to do it, for no other reason than they found the verse to be in poor taste. (And you must admit, it’s kind of squicky on several levels.)

      I wish I could remember where I originally came across the story. It was a newspaper or magazine article that I stumbled upon back in my college days while researching a paper. (We won’t discuss how long ago that was, but microfilm was involved.) I didn’t find out about the Victor soundtrack record until much later.

      At any rate, the Snow White ban usually gets at least passing mention in histories of Boston’s over-enthusiastic censorship boards, such as here:
      http://www.bostonmagazine.com/articles/the_naked_city/

      Most early Disney songs have verses that are in the sheet music and/or popular recordings of the songs, but weren’t used, or even intended, for the movie. For instance, this scary looking record, released in 1955
      http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-45-RPM-Record-Walt-Disneys-Magic-Kingdom-songs-/120493888218
      contains the censored Yodel Song verse, as well as two more verses that never made it into the movie in the first place:

      “I chased a polecat up a tree/ way out upon a limb/ and when he got the best of me/ I got the worst of him.”

      “I used to have a billy goat/ we had him disinfected./ He could have slept in Grumpy’s bed/ but the billy goat objected.”

      They don’t write ‘em like they used to.

      • Paul Penna

        Quick note: the “polecat” verse is actually in the film – and in the posted squished except.

      • http://ramapithblog.blogspot.com David Gerstein

        The “polecat” verse actually is in the movie—it’s the third verse on Eric’s record, and the second in the edited movie as usually seen.

        @Eric: “Since then Disney’s gone out of their way to pretend [the censored scene] never happened.” I wouldn’t imagine a conspiracy as much as a simple error: I’ll bet nobody in the right position to restore the scene—in modern times—was even aware of the third verse having been animated.

        I certainly wasn’t—even though I’ve spent quite awhile looking for extended versions of the song on disc.

      • Eric Graf

        Oh, psh … you’re right about the polecat verse. Was listening to the Columbia record for additional verses and the brain just didn’t connect the right synapses. Please cut me some slack, I’m on cold medication today.

        I’d hate to think that nobody at Disney was aware of that verse’s existence, especially if they were restoring the movie from the original elements. But I don’t know enough about the restoration process, or the nature and condition of the elements, to be forming opinions.

  • http://www.fluffyandmervin.com Debbie

    This “Lost Lyric” is in the book of sheet music I have published by the Bourne Co. Music publishers. The music is copyrighted 1937, although the book itself advertises “Walt Disney Classics” with songs from Pinocchio and Dumbo, which might date the book to the early 40′s.

    This book belonged to my great grandmother, and perhaps the most interesting part of that is that she lived in Boston, MA. The lyrics may have been banned from the film, but made it to this songbook, even in Boston!

  • jordan reichek

    that was great! thanks for sharing this neat find!

    walt and slightly naughty sexual/perversion/innuendo related content….the gift that keeps on giving!

    one can only imagine what poor lilly had to put up with.

  • http://www.MouseTracksOnline.com Greg Ehrbar

    FI – The “billy goat” lyric was sung by Jimmie Dodd, who performed the song, along with Tommy Cole and Kevin “Moochie” Corcoran, on a Mickey Mouse Club LP called A WALT DISNEY SONG FEST that was reissued as WALT DISNEY’S MOST BELOVED SONGS.

  • JeffH

    Be careful, Eric-Disney might come after you for copyright infringement…Also, I could have sworn I have heard the “polecat” lyric in some officially released form. Incredible detective work!

  • Angry Anim

    Stories like these on Cartoon Brew don’t get the most comments, but I think that they’re the most important and most valuable! Absolutely fantastic, Jerry! Thanks for sharing!

    • Funkybat

      Stuff like this is a big part of why I visit The Brew. I’m almost as much of a history nut as I am a film geek and animation nerd. “Lost” animation-related stuff always fascinates me. For such a relatively new art form (barely a century old!) there is so much that has been accidentally and sometimes intentionally lost.

  • http://richardsmithstudios.webs.com/ Richard

    The lyric was sooooo funny.
    But it’s just so wrong.

  • Mister Twister

    Wow.

  • Jeff Kurtti

    When I was doing the Platinum DVD of “Snow White,” we had all manner of trims, outs, and camera tests that had been found over many years by Scott MacQueen. I’m not sure the additional lyric was ever actually animated, but may have been cut prior to that.

    There is evidence that the film was tweaked several times after the premiere at the Carthay Circle and well into its initial release, I believe it was “locked” in its currently-known form only on its first reissue in 1944.

    • Eric Graf

      Well, so far I’m unable to turn up a *contemporary* account of any censorship in the US, so you may be right. (GREAT job on that DVD, by the way.)

      This link:
      http://78records.cdbpdx.com/SWSR/
      has the film-to-record transfers being completed between November 26 and December 17, 1937. The Murray reference book on Disney records says the contract between Disney and RCA was signed on December 7th, so presumably it would’ve been near the end of that range. Would they still be making changes to the soundtrack that close to the December 21 premiere?

  • Bud

    Ever hear the Comedian Harmonists nearly note for note version of this from Germany? I believe it must have been the reconstituted version of the group reformed after their escape from Nazi Germany….but it’s available on iTunes and is terrific.

  • JB Kaufman

    Sneezy’s verse was animated (by Les Clark), but Steve Segal is right: it wasn’t censored, just cut for time considerations. (It doesn’t appear in the Technicolor cutting continuity, which is dated January 1938.) For what it’s worth, Sneezy did sing his verse in two radio broadcasts after the film was released: “The Mickey Mouse Theater of the Air” in January 1938, and the “Lux Radio Theatre” the following Christmas. In both instances, the word “didee” was interrupted by a sneeze.

    • http://youtube.com/user/Mesterius1 Mesterius

      Ooo! Do you know if it’s possible to watch that Les Clark animation of Sneezy’s verse anywhere? Or is the animation considered lost?

      • JB Kaufman

        I don’t think the scene is lost, exactly, but to my knowledge it exists only as pencil animation. It was in the picture as late as October 1937 — sweatbox notes reveal that Clark was still revising it at that date — but I believe it was cut before reaching the ink-and-paint phase. As far as I can tell it’s not possible to watch it.

      • Jeff Kurtti

        We were not able to find any other test or pencil footage while doing the DVD edition (pretty much everything we could find was put on the disc, even though some of it is very short, or the context takes more time than the actual footage!). And BELIEVE me, the Home Video Marketing folks would have loved nothing more than to tout more “lost” footage ;-)

  • http://ramapithblog.blogspot.com David Gerstein

    Hmm. The “Yodel Song” was also issued in unedited form in the UK:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXdsyTK4iPA

    The same UK line included a version of “Heigh-Ho” with some more omitted material (from 5:35 to 5:52):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H03s75OfzfY

    • Chris Sobieniak

      The British got a decent 78 there with the label!

      • Eric Graf

        They sure did. Prior to this album, there were some discs made from Silly Symphonies soundtracks. We got the standard Bluebird label, and the British got full-color labels with the characters.

        I hadn’t had a chance to mess with the other sides in the set at the time I sent Jerry this one, but it turns out the extended Heigh-Ho is on the American edition as well.

        Man I’d love to see what the animators were planning to do there.

  • http://yoebooks.com Craig Yoe

    fascinating–thanks to all!

  • Scarabim

    Isn’t it kind of sad that a little throw-away song from a very old Disney film is so much better than most of the music written for the movies today?

    And I love the…earnestness…that the “Silly Song” scene contains. No snark, no vulgarity, no mean-spirited humor, just warmhearted characters having a good time together. That kind of joy is missing from family movies today, even from Disney product. I wish it could resurface somehow. I think modern, world-weary, “cynical” audiences would eat it up.

    • Kelly McNutt

      Your comment is so spot-on. I couldn’t agree more.

      • David Gerstein

        I’m afraid not everyone agreed. When the British MICKEY MOUSE WEEKLY comic book published the lyrics to “The Silly Song” (in issue 126, 1938), they included a censored version of Sneezy’s lost verse:

        “The minute after I was born
        I didn’t have a nightie;
        I used my beard to keep me warm,
        And tied it round me tightly!”

        I wonder if these lyrics were used anywhere else (or recorded?), or whether they originated with the WEEKLY?

      • Mac

        It could be that the lyric wasn’t changed in the comic for reasons of censorship, but simply because British audiences wouldn’t know what a didee was. I can’t speak for Brits who were around in the the late 30′s, but I’ve never heard anyone use the word didee over here and we call ‘diapers’ ‘nappies’.

  • Marc Gagnon

    I guess this is the spot to ask… what exactly is Bashful describing in the “polecat” verse? “I got the worst of him”? Did the polecat in a tree, I dunno, crap on his head?

    • plastic bottle

      A “polecat” is a skunk.

      • Bugsmer

        Hey, thank you. I didn’t know that. I had no idea what a polecat was, although I’ve heard mention of them in cartoons for years. Thanks for the info, Plastic Bottle.

    • Bruce

      You know that Polecat is slang for skunk, right?

  • DexterRiley

    Eric,

    I have to correct you on one issue. This version DID have a CD release in the US. It was on the BMG (RCA) CD of the soundtrack from 1988. Through some strange arrangement, RCA Victor retained the rights to release the soundtracks for Snow White & Pinocchio, among others. The CDs duplicate the 78s in content…so even though the soundtrack was improved in the intervening years between 1937 and 1988, the version released on this CD is the original one present on the 78.

    For anyone wanting to track down this CD, it’s BMG 8455-2-R
    ©1988

  • James Cimarusti

    This track and others from “Snow White”, “Pinocchio”, “Bambi”, and “Dumbo”, along with tracks from “The Three Little Pigs”, “Barnyard Symphony” plus “Mickey’s Grand Opera” (All RCA Victor recordings) are available on a Pearl/Flapper CD called “With A Smile and A Song”

    http://www.amazon.com/Smile-Song-Various-Artists/dp/B00004RCAQ/ref=sr_1_28?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1320269398&sr=1-28

    These are the complete contents of the original 78 sets for the four movies mentioned plus the 3 shorts.(The B side of “Mickey’s Grand Opera”-”The Orphans Benefit”- for some reason is not included, though).

    These 78′s can be seen on pages 269-270 of Cecil Munsey’s “Disneyana” book and here on Ebay:

    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Vintage-Mickey-Mouse-Orphans-Benefit-78rpm-1920s-/300616583033?pt=UK_Records&hash=item45fe250779

  • Rod Bennett

    The “didee” verse did make it into the Lux Radio Theatre adaptation performed live on 12/26/38 with Walt himself present at the broadcast. That was over a year into “Snow White’s” run, so I doubt he was too very embarrassed by it.

    • Scarabim

      Rod, is there a recording available of that broadcast? I have a Lux Radio Theater recording of “It’s a Wonderful Life” with James Stewart and some of the movie’s cast performing an abbreviated version of the film for a radio audience. I’d love to get a copy of the Snow White broadcast!

  • http://www.sisterson.co.uk Dennis Sisterson

    While we’re on the subject of Disney cuts, My dad recalls that the stag’s line in Bambi “your mother can’t be with you any more” was originally followed by the line “Man has taken her away”. Can anyone verify this? (This would be on a UK print.)

  • Autie Author

    ‘Off-colour’ lyrics in Snow White is nothing. I’ve seen three instances of panty-flash in the Disney remake of Annie and sent copies of the screenshots to snopes.com and Wikimedia.