Monday, January 28, 2013

"Silly Song" Deleted Lyrics from Original 'Snow White' Soundtrack

If you were to do a side-by-side comparison of the original 1938 Snow White soundtrack record (RCA/Victor three-disc set) with the songs heard in the actual movie, you'd find that the two recordings are generally the same...but not identical. There are some really interesting differences. Of course, the audio we have in the film today has all been digitally remastered, but the variance we're about to explore is not related to sound quality.

I first became aware of these discrepancies after reading a 2011 article on the subject by Cartoon Brew contributor Eric Graf. Eric discovered that a set of lyrics included on the record and sung by Sneezy in the Dwarfs' Yodel Song (aka The Silly Song) are not in fact in the movie. There was discussion as to whether or not this deletion of content occurred because of censorship. The thought was that the lines in question might have been slightly too racy for a 1938 audience. However, Snow White author/historian JB Kaufman commented on the post and said the scene 'wasn’t censored, just cut for time considerations. It never made it in the Technicolor cutting continuity, dated January 1938.'

The disc label from the first 78 rpm record of the Dwarfs' Yodel Song. Note that it is not referred to as The Silly Song.

Record image courtesy of the Rick Payne Collection via dadric's attic.

The Yodel Song from the original soundtrack recording (OS) runs a little over three minutes (3:15). The version used in the theatrical-release (TR), although missing the deleted lyrics, still calculates out to be more than a minute longer (4:25). The exact lengths actually depend on where you mark the endings to the songs. For consistency, let's agree that both tracks conclude right after Snow White laughs and says, "That was fun." Now we're ready for the side-by-side comparison.

As we know, the sequence in the film begins with an exterior shot of the Dwarfs' cottage before pushing in on the party inside. Good music and lots of cheer welcome us in as Happy (dancing with Dopey) steals the initial few seconds of the show with his fancy moves. The Dwarfs are singing the yodeling refrain.

Happy is then the first to sing a verse.
I like to dance and tap my feet
But they won't keep in rhythm.
You see, I washed them both today
And I can't do nothing with 'em.

Up until this point, 51 seconds into the song, both versions are the same. Now the two begin to diverge.

Immediately following Happy's lyrics, he does a kind of a soft-shoe while Snow White watches from the foreground and Bashful and Doc play instruments in the corner.  In the OS, we hear the princess laughing during Happy's funny moves. Strangely, this laughter track is not included in the TR even though we can clearly see her laughing on screen.

This scene is also the first time we hear the "Silly Song" chorus...or do we? Certainly in the film, the following lines are sung with both Bashful and Doc moving their mouths to the words.
Ho hum the tune is dumb
The words don't mean a thing.
Isn't this a silly song
For anyone to sing?
I was really surprised, however, to learn that the OS does not include this chorus. The melody is there, but it's performed by a banjo and clarinet rather than vocals. This would explain why on the original record label, The Silly Song title is absent. The "Silly Song" lines were not included anywhere in this version.

At about 59 seconds, we come to Sneezy's deleted scene. In the OS, his lyrics go as follows.
A minute after I was born
I didn't have a nighty.
So I tied my whiskers around my legs
And I used them for a didee.
The last word, didee, is delivered in conjunction with a classic sneeze from Billy Gilbert who was the voice of Sneezy. This entire section was cut and not included in the final film and thus is not found in the TR.

Both versions now go into Dopey's drumstick segment (the sticks pass through his sleeves), the OS at the 1:25 mark and TR still at 59 seconds. It's followed by Bashful's lines.
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.

We run through a couple more yodeling refrains including a Happy solo; Snow White hits her operatic soprano note and dances with Doc, Bashful and Sneezy; Dopey and Sleepy go through their "house fly" gags.

The Dwarf's Yodel Song comes to an end in the OS with the tweeting of the wooden bird whistle on Grumpy's organ. It's followed by laughter and Snow White's "That was fun" line. The total running time is 3:15.

In the film, the song keeps right on going. Instrumental music, hand clapping, and shouts of "Hey!" fill the room, all while we watch the dancing sequence with Dopey on Sneezy's shoulders.

After Sneezy explodes with another sneeze that shoots Dopey to the rafters, everyone enjoys a laugh for about 12 seconds at the conclusion of the song. Snow then gets to say "That was fun." The running time of the TR version totals 4:42.

Screen captures and audio excerpts copyright Disney. Included here for historical documentation purposes.

On January 9, 1938, Billy Gilbert performed his Sneezy role during the Mickey Mouse Theater of the Air radio program. We hear the deleted lyrics again, but in a slightly different form.
When I was born so long ago
I felt so high and mighty.
I tied my whiskers around my legs
And I used them for a ...di, a...dee, a...doo [sneeze!]
...for a nightie.

During the Lux Radio Theater performance of Walt Disney's Snow White, December 26, 1938, Billy Gilbert's back as Sneezy. This time he sings the original deleted lines except he ends with "nightie" again rather than "didee".


A few of the informative comments on the 2011 Cartoon Brew post...

Eric Graf on October 31, 2011 at 9:34 am said:
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
contains the...Yodel Song verse, as well as [another] verse that never made it into the movie in the first place:

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


Greg Ehrbar on October 31, 2011 at 10:26 am said:
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.


Jeff Kurtti on October 31, 2011 at 4:57 pm said: 
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 on October 31, 2011 at 6:50 pm said:
This link: 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?


JB Kaufman on October 31, 2011 at 8:35 pm said:
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.


JB Kaufman on November 1, 2011 at 5:58 pm said: 
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.


David Gerstein on November 2, 2011 at 10:27 am said:
When the British MICKEY MOUSE WEEKLY comic book published the lyrics to “The Silly Song” (in issue 126, 1938), they included [another] 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!


Mac on November 2, 2011 at 1:45 pm said:
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’.


Jeff Kurtti on November 2, 2011 at 8:48 pm said:
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 ;-)

Tune into the next post as we examine the original Heigh-Ho track.


  1. Good post my friend! Always like to see/hear different versions of Disney things.

    1. Thanks Lee. To paraphrase Bert from Mary Poppins, at least 'it beats a poke in the eye.' :)

  2. Interesting! Never heard that deleted line before!

    1. Tom, I too find it interesting, that after 75 years, there's still things to discover about this film. Amazing!

  3. This is so fascinating, especially the fact that the "lost verse" seems to have been completely unnoticed until last year. Incredible!

    I love the additional versions from the radio show and Mickey Mouse Weekly.

    Also, I could be totally wrong, but I do get the sense that somebody found the thought of using whiskers as a "didee" kind of gross - the fact that the radio show just rhymes "nightie" with "nightie" seems to back that up.

    1. Major, I think you're probably correct about the "nightie" instead of "didee" phraseology.

  4. I have a dumb question. What exactly is a "didee"? Is that another term for "diaper"?