Monday, July 2

It’s a Small World (after all)

Do you know what song is the single most performed and translated piece of music on Earth?

Opinions will vary, but “It’s a Small World” by the Sherman Brothers is definitely at the top of the list.

This song can be heard everywhere in the world in all forms; from keyboard demos to ice-cream-truck chimes.

The Story Behind the Song

In 1966, Walt Disney (the man) was re-creating an older idea of an attraction or ride inside Disneyland. He called his concept “Children of the World” and attempted to play the national songs of different countries all at the same time. As you can imagine, the result was deafening, mixed-up music.

Walt Disney showed a scale model of the ride to his staff songwriters, the Sherman Brothers – Robert and Richard Sherman -- and told them: “I need one song that can easily be translated into many languages and be played as a round.”

The song “It’s a Small World (After All)” was born.

A Brief History

Those days were still in the long shadow of the Cuban Missile Crisis, which was no light matter.

Tension was brewing between the two superpowers of the world, the US and the Soviet Union.

In August 1962, after America’s unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the government of Fidel Castro, Russia started setting up nuclear ballistic missiles in the territories of its ally Cuba; well within range of most of the US.

The US had also previously coordinated the preparation of more than 100 similar missiles within the UK, Italy, and Turkey.

images courtesy of stock.xchng 

The Cuban Missile Crisis is regarded as the singular moment during the Cold War when tension reached its peak and almost escalated into a nuclear conflict, World War III, and world annihilation.

As theoretical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, the “Father of the Atomic Bomb,” aptly described:

We may be likened to two scorpions in a bottle, each capable of killing the other, but only at the risk of his own life.”

These days, a similar issue about the use of nuclear energy is being  discussed in Japan.

Now, Back to the Song…

Because of the threat of nuclear warfare from the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Sherman Brothers composed the song “It’s a Small World (After All)” with the theme of international brotherhood and peace.

At first, they played it as a slow ballad. Walt Disney then requested that the song be made more cheerful, so the Sherman Brothers speeded up the tempo.

The result was a song so lively and delightful that Walt Disney renamed the whole Disneyland attraction after the song.

And it has lived on ever since, inside Disneyland parks and in all other music forms everywhere in the world.

The Phrase

The American idiom “It’s a small world” is used to talk about a situation when someone encounters the same people, events, etc. in unexpected places.

This phrase has been in use since the 1900s.

Like the song, this phrase has been translated into so many languages. 

Here are some translations I gathered from the Net:

Japanese: 小さな世界 (chiisana sekai)

Korean: 세상 참 좁네요

Russian: Мир тесен! (Mir tesen!)

German: Wie klein die Welt doch ist! Unsere Welt ist ja so klein.

French: Le monde est (vraiment) petit.

Chinese: [这世界真小啊] (zhè shìjiè zhēn xiăo ā)

Spanish: El mundo es un pañuelo. Muy pequeño el mundo es.

Italian: E un mondo piccolo. Com'è piccolo il mondo!

If there’s a translation in your native language that you would like to add, kindly post it in the Comments. Thanks!

Keep on learning !

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article <a href="'s_a_Small_World">"It's a Small World"</a>, which is released under the <a href="">Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0</a>.

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