Sunday, 10 January 2010




An unusual choice for our ninth position. Cheerio is a song you probably have never heard, or even heard of. In fact it never made it into the final movie – it was cut for reasons of space. It has one hell of a competition within the 101 Dalmatians and I was torn between this one and Cruella De Vil’s song, which is also fantastic.

Ultimately I opted for Cheerio if only because it is, to my knowledge, the only war song in the entire Disney canon. The lyrics are those of marching soldiers who go to war, claiming their affection for the friends they leave behind and telling their loved ones (mothers or partners) that they shall always be faithful to them. Thus, the hip and delightful tune has an undertone of melancholy which, if you listen closely, is really quite cutting. The subtext – and a very strong subtext at that – is in the speaker’s unstated words, the ‘I may not come back’ that hovers at the tip of the tongue and at the back of the mind of every soldier – and this explains the vein of sadness behind a music and text which is, in appearance, vibrantly cheerful. Here is a surprisingly touching, very subtle song, and its contingent anonymity is not quite enough to rob it of a legitimate position on this list.


Mory said...

I can't tell if this series is serious or not. You're reading stuff into these songs which aren't really there.

John Silver said...

Utterly serious. Interpretation is more than just writing the summary of what you find in a text. It means distilling what lies *behind* the text as well - identifying the interplay of signifiers which produce meaning when inserted in the (con)text of a given culture and audience.

No doubt my readings cannot be traced to authorial intent, if that is what you're referring to. But then, authorial intent is not what produces signification.

Mory said...

"It means distilling what lies *behind* the text as well - identifying the interplay of signifiers which produce meaning when inserted in the (con)text of a given culture and audience."

Sidestepping the minor issue that this song was never placed in any context, I find it hard to believe that anyone but you would hear a cheery little fluff song like this one and think of war.

John Silver said...

The song shares the context of the other songs in 101 dalmatians. It was never *distributed*, but it was made for the same film by the same guys in the same age, so we cannot retrospectively divorce it from the contingencies of its making.

I respectfully disagree about your last statement. I think the song evokes atmospheres which throw back to a very specific tradition of war songs. "We'll meet again" (link: doesn't have a single line which evokes battles or death and is in fact jovial in many ways, but it's universally recognised as one of the most famous war songs in the world.

To the extent that Cheerio traces the style and contents of songs like the above, I would say it falls into the genre which we commonly call "war songs," though I'll admit I'm not an expert on the subject by any means. :P