Soundtracks and Show Tunes

My daughters and I have been listening to movie soundtracks in the car as we drive around town for errands or to and from swimming lessons. It all started in March, when my youngest turned four, and for her birthday, I got her the Frozen soundtrack. We listened to it over and over and over until we had it memorized. (And until I fell in love with Santino Fontana’s voice.) Then, I thought, wouldn’t it be fun to listen to some others? Wouldn’t it be fun to pass on some of the other memories I have of wonderful music to my children?

I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of this before. After all, I am a musician. I do blast random songs from my iPod in the mornings when we are all getting ready for the day. I do sit down and play through the classical music I learned as a child on the piano and attempt to learn new pieces. I do practice for church performances and accompanying all the time, and my children see me play the organ at church every few Sundays.

However, that doesn’t seem like enough. I wanted our musical experiences together to be purposeful. So I started buying soundtracks and playing them in the car. It turned into us singing together and memorizing an awful lot of show tunes.


After Frozen, we listened to The Sound of Music, since I bought that one while I was in Austria. It was a natural choice. And now I’m in love with Julie Andrews’s voice. I don’t think there’s anybody better than her.

Then we worked our way through Mary Poppins. It also seemed natural, since I recently saw Saving Mr. Banks and Mary Poppins seems to be having a bit of a revival. I’ve even got my daughter reading the books, which I’ve never done!

After that, I raided my CD collection (yes, I still have one) and pulled out some of the music I thought my children should be exposed to. Not all of it came from soundtracks. We listened to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Love Songs,” a collection of hits from his many musicals, including, of course, The Phantom of the Opera and Evita. We enjoyed Harry Connick Junior’s album “Songs I Heard,” which is a compilation of jazzy versions of hit musical songs from my childhood and his. There’s toe-tapping versions of The Sound of Music hits along with selections from Mary Poppins. There are also versions of “Over the Rainbow,” “Oompa Loompa,” and “Golden Ticket.” I’m thinking about getting the full soundtracks of The Wizard of Oz and Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory with Gene Wilder. (Thanks to my sister and brother-in-law for buying this album for us several years ago.) We also listened to The Beach Boys’ “Endless Summer.” They loved this one because it is familiar to them through the music on one of the rides at our local theme park.

We have currently moved onto a bit of Gospel music, with selections from the soundtracks of Sister Act and Sister Act 2. This music makes me want to learn more about Gospel music and to listen to much much more of it. Our denomination tends to rely on Protestant hymns for worship, and we don’t do any clapping or shouting for joy at church. I could use a little of that within my own home, however!

And we are well on our way to memorizing Annie. Belting out “Tomorrow” is an irresistible thing, and I may start doing it anywhere and everywhere.

I hope to also listen to The Little Mermaid, Les Miserables, and The Lion King with my girls. I’m thinking that the music of The Beatles and Michael Jackson may also be mandatory for my children. I’ve also got CDs called “Opera Goes to the Movies” and “Classics Go to the Movies” so those will likely end up being play in my car as well.

What soundtracks and/or music do you love most? What should we listen to next?

59 thoughts on “Soundtracks and Show Tunes

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  1. My daughter (who is three) adores Frozen and Mary Poppins and we (along with her twin brother) do a great, rousing version of Chim Chiminee! Can’t wait until they are old enough for Annie, as it was my favourite growing up!

  2. This is absolutely fantastic! I was introduced, much younger, to some darker musicals (Rocky Horror, The Who’s Tommy, and, even, the animated Heavy Metal) because my mother’s taste in childhood ran the same gambit. We also belted “Tomorrow”, “Edelweiss,” and “Spoonful of Sugar” though! Weird Al, The Beatles, and the Psychedelic movement were all part of my growing up years, and they have really formed me as a person and my perspective. You are growing a love of the arts in your children–especially living it in your daily life. That is incredible, and makes me feel good that parents are “handing down” their musical tastes like my parents did with me.

    Might I also suggest the soundtracks to the musicals Oliver!, Jesus Christ Superstar, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Godspell, and The Muppets movies? These are some of the things I remember enjoying singing along to when I was a kid. Hope you’ve already thought of them, though. 🙂

  3. Sorry to post again, but I also thought of ‘Bedknobs and Broomsticks’ and ‘Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang’ as movie musicals I enjoyed as a child. 🙂

      1. Be careful what you wish for, I just might! 🙂 Depression zapped me from a young age, and being able to belt my feelings out through song helped a megaton. Probably why I connected with the darker stuff so much. But, there’s also Dreamgirls (Hudson and/or Holliday), The Wiz (with King Michael and the lovely Diana Ross), Wicked, Seussical, and Thoroughly Modern Millie (Julie Andrews sings the theme from the movie version, delectable!).

  4. Finally! Someone that thinks like me! I did this all the time when my children were young. I may start again just for myself. Try Annie. The movie came out when my oldest were in the 5th grade. They loved it.

    1. We are currently listening to Annie. It is so fun! And we get to have a lot of talks about what an orphanage is and where orphans come from. 🙂

  5. Even at my advanced age –teehee–, I love jammin’ to Mama Mia on the car radio. I just have to remember to cool it at stop lights so the guys in white suits don’t come after me! 🙂 Great topic–I loved it. Also, I don’t know if there is a soundtrack out yet for Jersey Boys, but I think it will be a must have, as well.
    You’re right on track with gospel music. Try the smoooooth harmonies of the Booth Brothers some time. Very relaxing and a faith boost, for sure.

    1. You’ve got me singing Abba now! Mama Mia is definitely going to be played in my car asap! Great suggestions. And you’re not at an advanced age… 🙂

  6. You’ve got a great selection. My personal favorite is The Sound of Music. Sadly, I don’t think my daughters learned those songs despite the number of times we’ve seen the movie. In November, I suggest playing the Christmas carols. They’re wonderful and through those songs, they’ll learn while having fun.

    1. Christmas carols are so much fun! You should get The Sound of Music soundtrack. My daughter watched about half of the movie without getting into the music, but when we played it over and over in the car, she loved it.

  7. I second the Beatles, try Earth Wind and Fire and Stevie Wonder as well. I’d start with “Songs in the Key of Life” by Stevie and EW&F’s best hits. They will get your family groovin and down with boogie. 😉

  8. I have lately been playing Al Jolson and music written by Harry Warren. Most have heard of Jolson, but very few know of Warren, yet he was one of the most prolific great song-writers of the twentieth century with a cascade of great hit songs like “You’ll Never Know (Just How Much I Love You….).” He wrote the music for the big films “42nd Street” and “The Gold Diggers of 1933.” One of his numbers, called “The shadow Waltz” has been embedded in my musical brain since I first became aware of it. A beautiful melody, it was featured in the big opening number of “Gold Diggers,” directed by Busby Berkeley. As for Jolson and his music: One of a kind and a great musical pioneer from the days of vaudeville. I highly recommend the 1948 musical film, “The Jolson Story.” Few remember it, but is a first-class film with memorable Jolson numbers (his singling for the film) and academy-nominated acting by Larry Parks. I saw it in the theatres when I was a child. When I came across the DVD recently, I bought several copies. Historically and musically, Jolson was perhaps the greatest singer/entertainer ever to come along. The film tells it beautifully.

    1. Very nice suggestions. I love that early American music. You reminded me of Stephen Foster and George Gershwin. Good stuff! Thanks, Alan! And I just remembered my affinity for big band music when I was younger. Glenn Miller was a favorite.

      1. Speaking of Glenn Miller, you might enjoy another fine film, “Orchestra Wives,” which came out in 1942. It features the Glenn Miller band (and his music) in a well-done depiction of life on the musical road in those days. Great music and superior staging which takes you right up on the bandstand and into the orchestra. We first saw this at the Stanford Theatre in nearby Palo Alto, Ca. – a restored classical movie theatre which runs classic films and carefully chooses its offerings.
        A good film and highly recommended for Glenn Miller fans!

  9. My favorite song is Somewhere Over the Rainbow 🙂 Mary Poppins is pretty good to just be fun, silly and sing along to. How about Mamma Mia? I love the theater performance more than the movie production. I will be having songs going through my head and maybe a few will get stuck there too – ha! Happy Tuesday.

  10. Emily, great idea and list. I concur with many of your choices, not having heard them all. One Christmas, I bought my wife CDs of all the musicals we had seen live, which made them even more special. As I search my memory banks, your daughters might the following of interest: Cats, Westside Story (my son’s marching band did a tribute one year), Man of La Mancha, Phantom of the Opera, and Les Miserables. While the last two or more adult, the kids loved the movies and music. Cats is fun, so the younger ones would get a kick out of it. Happy listening. BTG

  11. This is a great idea. I miss singing in the car with my best friend as a teenager. We sang Cyndi Lauper, Whitney Houston, Suzanna Vega, Trisha Yearwood and a lot of others. I wonder when we stopped singing. My friend is no longer with me but perhaps I should start singing in the car again. Also, everyone above has great suggestions.

  12. I came late to the conversation today, so I really don’t have any new suggestions to add. It’s heartening to see how many other parents also sing in the car with their kids. My daughters and I also spent many hours talking and singing while doing errands in the car. Good times!

    1. I suspect these will be some of our fondest memories. I know one of my favorite memories with my dad is singing The Little Mermaid soundtrack in his car.

  13. Your post re-kindled childhood memories! I didn’t know that Andrew Llyod Weber was the genius behind some of my fave sing-in-the shower songs like Don’t Cry For Me Argentina and pieces from Sound of Music. I am eagerly awaiting your review of Les Mis.

  14. Great post! My girls know every word to the soundtrack of ‘Newsies’. Love that music. And Hannah’s favorite singer is – no joke – Frank Sinatra. I figure that fact alone proves I’m a good parent. =)

  15. Mary Poppins was the first CD I ever bought back when I was in High School. I have forced it on my children ever since. We are also big fans of The Sound of Music and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I can’t believe I forgot about Annie, though! That was one of my favourites when I was little. Thanks for reminding me!

    Recently, we have been listening to Billy Joel. He was one of my parents’ favourites, so I grew up listening to his songs. They almost have all the words to Innocent Man down pat. 🙂

  16. Not sure if anyone suggested The Music Man, but it would be on my list. Perhaps also The King and I.
    Also, see if you can find Julie Andrews Christmas album. It came out about 30 years ago, but it’s packed with traditional carols and her voice is gorgeous. You and your family will love it!

    1. I’m definitely going to track down her Christmas album. Thanks for the tip! And yes, the other two have wonderful music. Very nice suggestions.

  17. My husband is a fan of Les Miserables. Once the movie came out, he started playing the soundtrack on the way to school. My daughter started humming along and then her love of musicals took birth. The Sound of Music is my personal fave.

  18. Little mermaid was my absolute favourite film as a child, as were the songs in Pocahontas and the best song ever: ‘here comes the sun’ by the beatles -it never fails to bring a smile to my face! 🙂

  19. I loved this post — it reminds me of road trips with my mom when we were kids; she had a tape that was Oklahoma! on one side and Phantom on the other. I don’t think I could take Phantom now, but I do love a little Rodgers & Hammerstein.

    Also, any chance your girls might like opera?

      1. My (much) younger sister started on musicals and opera as a little kid (my dad’s the at-home parent, and he adores opera) — now she can pick out the composer and the title of the major operas within just a few bars of the opening. It’s amazing and fun to watch.

        Not exactly sing-along-able as showtunes, though!

  20. I enjoyed this post. I have my ipod on constantly, and I grew up listening to Mums reel to reel and later C90 tapes daily. Consequently my own children are growing up immersed in tunes. Both have an appreciation of music from the 50’s onwards. So much so that recently when my mum said ‘here comes the sun again’ they both started humming the Beatles song! Hope your daughters keep enjoying songs with you

  21. How sweet! I love this idea! I think I have most of the Beatles songs memorized, thanks to blasting them in my car at top volume with the windows rolled down. I also enjoyed singing along to Phantom of the Opera (though in the shower, not the car!), Mary Poppins, and one of the Mary Kate & Ashley CDs when I was a kid.

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