August 7, 2011

Ain't got that swing

A summer shift working the popcorn wagon in Bear Country used to be a delightful way to spend a late afternoon. The little land was a shady, relatively quiet spot in an otherwise bustling Disneyland. On a scorching August day, it offered cool shelter.

Bear Country's singular attraction, the Country Bear Jamboree, though, could be quite a boisterous affair. Inside its two cavernous theaters, guests stomped their feet and clapped their hands as some of the greatest audio-animatronics ever performed some of the greatest country and folk music. It was a far cry from another outlet for plush and a splashier version of Knott's Timber Mountain Log Ride, an innovative flume that pre-dated Disney's by thirty years.

I think that characters like swingin' Teddi Barra are unequaled by anything added to the modern Magic Kingdom, including the unfortunate "resort." One reason is that Teddi and her peers presented an authentic show, a hoedown rooted in America's musical history. The bears were obviously cartoon characters like the cast of America Sings. Thanks to the inspiration of a genius like Marc Davis, however, they had an innate appeal. Their show drew from the past to create something both immediately entertaining and timeless.

Songs like Teddi's—and the great singers behind them—deserve to be heard again in Walt's own Park:

Well there he goes, he hardly knows
the heart he's breakin.'
I talked to him, but I don't think he understood.
We'll just forget about the plans
that we were makin.'
Heart, we did all that we could.

According to her entry on Wikipedia, "Ollie Imogene Shepard (born November 21, 1933), better known as Jean Shepard, is an American honky tonk singer-songwriter who was a pioneer for women in country music. Shepard released a total of 73 singles to the Hot Country Songs chart, one of which reached the #1 spot. She recorded a total of 24 studio albums between 1956 and 1981, and has been a member of the Grand Ole Opry for more than 50 years. In 1967, Shepard had two top 20 hits with the title track of "Heart, We Did All That We Could" and the single "Your Forevers Don't Last Very Long." Jean is 78 this year and still active in music.

But enough of this chit chat, yak yak, and flim flam. Just refrain from hibernatin.' And we'll all enjoy the show.


TokyoMagic! said...

I miss Country Bear Jamboree! I wish they would bring it back to Disneyland. Putting it in DCA would even be acceptable to me as long as it was the original show.

Connie Moreno said...

Oh my gosh, what a WONDERFUL post! Thank you! I loved the Country Bears and they never should have been taken out of Disneyland! I learned so much from your post today. I never knew that Teddi Bara's song was taken from real life - I thought it was a Disney creation for the attraction! Thanks for all the cool links. I'm grinning from ear to ear!

Anonymous said...

I like both kinds of music...Country and Western.

The bears were never favorites, but they were a good show, just the same.

I think Winnie-The-Pooh is good there, so something is available for the little ones by the big scary flume ride, but... the bears were fun too.

Thank you for the good info.