The first track of Disney Dreamin’ with Matthew Morrison, the newest album from the Fox “Glee” star, is “Friend Like Me.” It sounds like the animated film’s version of the song — playful, big sounding, energetic, fun.
But as soon as you hit the Next button, you’ll enter into a whole new world (no pun intended) of sound, specifically how you hear your favorite Disney music classics. “It was important for me [to make them different],” said Morrison to DisneyExaminer in an exclusive phone interview from New York. “At the same time, I wanted to honor them properly. They are classics, but they can be made fresh and different.”
Morrison himself isn’t a stranger to the songs as he, like many, started life with Disney. He went on to say that he grew up in Southern California and frequented Disneyland as a pass holder with his friends “like many who live in the area did.”
Combining that love of Disney with his musical theater talents in high school, Morrison knew he wanted to do a project like this all along. However, it wasn’t until he became a father that pushed it all forward.
“I was inspired to do a children’s album at first,” he said speaking about becoming a father back in 2017. “Initially I was planning to write and record my own children’s songs, but Disney found out about the idea and offered their timeless songbook to me. Generations of kids songs are Disney songs!”
Those generations are represented in the 10-song track list chosen by Morrison himself. “There are songs from my childhood like “The Bear Necessities” all the way to more modern kids classics like “You’ve Got A Friend In Me.”
As for the reimagining of the Disney songs, Morrison worked directly with his longtime arranger to craft specific arrangements for each cover. “I wanted a Mumford & Sons feel for ‘Go The Distance’ and REO Speedwagon version of ‘When I see an Elephant Fly’; everything had its own inspiration.”
When it came to each song’s tempo, he spoke about his son again, saying that it matched up with how he and his wife connect with him. “My wife and I sing lullabies to him at bedtime and then do dance parties to wake up. The album’ songs connect in that way too, with half slower and the other half upbeat.”
No matter the song or the inspiration, he hopes that people just enjoy the magic that is this type of music. “The Disney songbook is timeless for a reason,” he said. “It’s a universal, time-spanning feeling of extreme happiness that comes the moment you hit Play or hear it at Disneyland. It makes you feel good, and we can always use more happy things like that.”
You can listen to Disney Dreamin’ with Matthew Morrison on your favorite streaming service or by purchasing it online. Our special thanks to Matthew Morrison for contributing to this story!