Julie Andrew's version of the Sound of Music is 50 years old this year. That this made the news is proof that this song has remained a perennial favorite for many through time and across generations.
I wasn't even born when Andrews sang this in the prelude of the 1965 movie with the same title. But like many others, this song has stayed with me right from the moment I first heard it while watching the film with my late Mom in the late '70s. It was also my first experience of watching a musical and thanks to this happy experience, I have begun looking forward to watching musicals since then.
The rest of the songs of the movie (there were a total of 16 in the original vinyl track listing) flow smoothly with the movie. Along with Julie Andrew's or her character's/Maria's version of The Sound of Music, the songs in the movie remain unforgettable: Maria, Sixteen Going on Seventeen, My Favorite Things, Climb Every Mountain and of course, Edelweiss. The playfulness of The Lonely Goatherd, Do-Re-Mi and So Long Farewell are not lost even among the new generation of viewers of the film.
As we had a spacious lawn and there were vacant lots surrounding our place at that time I watched the film, it was quite easy for me to imagine myself as Maria singing among the green and hilly surroundings, singing The Sound of Music, of course. This song awakened my imagination and in my own private world, a love for singing.
Looking back now, I wonder if its composer and lyricist, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, had this goal in mind when they penned this song and the rest of the songs in the movie (except for I Have Confidence and Something Good which Rodgers had to write himself as Hammerstein had died by then) -- stir imagination and nudge awake in others a love for singing or making music. I bet they just wanted to make beautiful songs but I think that is what happens when you create something beautiful. There is a positive rippling effect for those who witness and experience it.
Rodgers and Hammerstein had created a thing of beauty with The Sound of Music. And if where I am right now, decades after this song was first sang into life, is part of the road moving towards the vast and long future ahead then it's not difficult to say that this thing of beauty might not be just a source of joy in the past or for today but might even be marching its way to perhaps, forever. This is not hard to imagine at all since for half a century now, the hills in your part of the world and mine are somehow still very much alive with this sound of music.