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 Posted:   May 28, 2015 - 9:15 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

The title “A Boy Named Charlie Brown” has been used for two different projects over the years, leading to some confusion as to which project is which, particularly when it comes to the soundtracks. Here is what has been released and what is available.

A BOY NAMED CHARLIE BROWN – 1963 documentary

The 1963 “A Boy Named Charlie Brown” is an unreleased television documentary film about Charles M. Schulz and his creation “Peanuts,” produced by Lee Mendelson with some animated scenes by Bill Meléndez and music by Vince Guaraldi.

The 60-minute documentary followed a day in the life of Schulz. We see his estate, we see him taking his kids to school and drawing his strip, with some commentary on all of the above. The meat of the documentary was 3 minutes of animated skits by the Peanuts gang. Produced after the early 1960's Ford Commercials and before "A Charlie Brown Christmas,” these are amusing vignettes on Charlie Brown's perennial failure, Linus' powers with his blanket, and other strip standbys. The documentary did not sell however, even after having been edited down to a half-hour version.

Although never aired on television, this 26-minute film was instrumental in garnering commercial support, and for assembling the creative teamwork that resulted in “A Charlie Brown Christmas” in 1965 and the ensuing series of Peanuts television specials. Portions of the film were used in commercials for “A Charlie Brown Christmas” in 1965.

A 33-minute LP by the Vince Guaraldi Trio with re-recorded music from the documentary, originally titled Jazz Impressions of a Boy Named Charlie Brown, was released by Fantasy Records in 1964 (catalog no. 84-30). To celebrate its 50th anniversary, that album was reissued in a special limited vinyl edition last year:



The LP was released on CD by Fantasy in 1989 (FCD-8430-2), with one additional 9-minute track, bring the total to 42 minutes. That CD was labeled as being “The Original Sound Track Recording of the CBS Television Special,” even though the documentary has never aired on television. Perhaps this was done to extend the market for the album beyond jazz aficionados and into the broader viewership of the, by then, ubiquitous Peanuts specials (which at that time were exclusively on CBS). The CD was also reissued as part of the 50th anniversary.



The documentary itself (short version) is available on DVD through the Charles M. Schulz Museum.

https://shop.schulzmuseum.org/SelectSKU.aspx?skuid=1000401



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A BOY NAMED CHARLIE BROWN – 1969 feature film

The 1969 “A Boy Named Charlie Brown” is an animated musical film, produced by Cinema Center Films, distributed by National General Pictures, and directed by Bill Meléndez. It was the first feature film based on the Peanuts comic strip. It marked the final time that Peter Robbins voiced the character of Charlie Brown. (Robbins had voiced the role for all the Peanuts television specials up to that point, starting with the debut of the specials, 1965's “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”)

Rod McKuen provided the words and music for 10 original songs for the film and co-wrote two others with Vince Guaraldi. McKuen himself sang the title song, while the others were performed by the child cast. The instrumental score interspersed throughout the movie was composed by Vince Guaraldi and arranged by John Scott Trotter (who also wrote one song). The background music consisted mostly of up-tempo jazz tunes that had been heard since some of the earliest Peanuts television specials, however, for “A Boy Named Charlie Brown,” they were given a more "theatrical" treatment, with lusher horn-filled arrangements. Instrumental tracks used in the film included "Skating" (first heard in “A Charlie Brown Christmas”) and "Baseball Theme" (first heard in “Charlie Brown's All-Stars”). McKuen, Guaraldi, and Trotter were nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song Score for their work on “A Boy Named Charlie Brown.”

Columbia Records issued a two-LP “Selections From the Soundtrack” of the film (OS -3500), which featured all of the songs as sung in the film, and a few selected instrumental tracks. The album received a Grammy nomination as “Best Album for Children.” This LP set has never been reissued on CD:



Since the Columbia soundtrack was geared toward children, Rod McKuen issued a more adult-oriented selection of his “Music From the Original Score” on his own Stanyan Records label (SR 5010). In addition to the title song, on this album Mckuen sang four of his other songs from the film, and provided straight instrumental versions of three others. To fill out the LP, McKuen added songs and instrumental tracks from “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie,” “Me, Natalie,” and “Joanna.”



Varese Sarabande plans to reissue this LP on CD on 23 June 2015.

http://www5.screenarchives.com/title_detail.cfm/ID/29026/A-BOY-NAMED-CHARLIE-BROWN/

As for the film itself, 1969’s “A Boy Named Charlie Brown” was released on DVD in 2006.

 
 
 Posted:   May 28, 2015 - 1:25 PM   
 By:   Pedestrian Wolf   (Member)

I picked up the vinyl reissue last fall and it looks and sounds fantastic. They even went to the trouble of recreating the elaborate gatefold packaging from the first pressing, complete with the envelope filled with Schulz sketches. Happy for those who want it that the soundtrack to the actual movie is getting reissued, but that was always a misfire to me. The songs were sentimental and on the nose in ways that the strip always avoided, and the huge orchestral arrangements of Guaraldi's music felt overwrought compared to their small-screen counterparts.

 
 
 Posted:   May 28, 2015 - 1:42 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Happy for those who want it that the soundtrack to the actual movie is getting reissued, but that was always a misfire to me. The songs were sentimental and on the nose in ways that the strip always avoided, and the huge orchestral arrangements of Guaraldi's music felt overwrought compared to their small-screen counterparts.


Just to be clear, the upcoming Varese CD release is NOT of the film's soundtrack. Instead, Varese is releasing the re-recorded score album that Rod McKuen issued, which has both vocal and instrumental versions of his songs. There is no Guaraldi material on that album.

 
 
 Posted:   May 29, 2015 - 4:50 PM   
 By:   smcguire   (Member)

I share Bob's enthusiasm for the soundtrack to the 1969 "A Boy Named Charlie Brown" film (and Guaraldi's work in general), and own all the albums he mentions in his post, as well as having done some research into the Peanuts films and TV shows. But I'm afraid I must note several corrections to his post.

Rod McKuen provided the words and music for 10 original songs for the film and co-wrote two others with Vince Guaraldi.

Rod McKuen did not write words and music for 10 original songs for the movie. There are only 3 McKuen songs in the final movie - "Champion Charlie Brown," "Failure Face", and "A Boy Named Charlie Brown." (The fourth song in the film, "I before E", was written by Bill Melendez, Al Shean, and John Scott Trotter.)

McKuen did write another piece for the movie, "Something for Snoopy," but ultimately it didn't appear in the film (and no, there isn't a "lost" animated segment to go with it - it didn't get that far); however, a version of it does appear on the McKuen album.

Nor did he directly co-write anything with Guaraldi, although Guaraldi's underscore does adapt some of McKuen's songs as instrumentals.

Columbia Records issued a two-LP “Selections From the Soundtrack” of the film (OS -3500), which featured all of the songs as sung in the film, and a few selected instrumental tracks.

The Columbia LP was not a two-disc set; it was just a single LP. Also, it is not a true soundtrack of the 1969 movie - it's really a "story of" album, like the "book and record" albums for kids, although without the book. So none of the score pieces appear in isolation on it; for the most part, they have dialog or narration over them. (The songs are more isolated, but still not entire clean and possibly not complete.)

Rod McKuen issued a more adult-oriented selection of his “Music From the Original Score” on his own Stanyan Records label (SR 5010). In addition to the title song, on this album Mckuen sang four of his other songs from the film, and provided straight instrumental versions of three others.

As Bob notes, the Rod McKuen "A Boy Named Charlie Brown" album being reissued by Varese Sarabande is definitely not a soundtrack album, and it is unfortunately misleading that Varese describes it as such.

Bob's count of "A Boy Named Charlie Brown" tracks on it is too high, alas. It contains McKuen's 3 songs from the film - "Champion Charlie Brown" (two different versions), "A Boy Named Charlie Brown," and "Failure Face" - and 2 instrumental selections - "Something For Snoopy and "Failure Face." (And as I mentioned above, "Something for Snoopy" was intended for the film, but didn't actually appear in the finished movie, so isn't immediately recognizable as music from the film.) All the other instrumental and vocal tracks on the McKuen album are from other movies.

But all the "A Boy Named Charlie Brown" tracks on the McKuen album are re-recordings/new performances - heck, two of the songs weren't even performed by McKuen in the original film, and while he did perform "A Boy Named Charlie Brown," the version on his LP is significantly different.

(The McKuen album isn't bad, and I think it's great that Varese is re-releasing it, but if folks are hoping for a real soundtrack album, they'll be disappointed.)

So, sadly, there has been nothing even close to an actual soundtrack release of the wonderful Guaraldi/Trotter score and McKuen songs from the 1969 film. An attempt to do a proper soundtrack release was made at one point, but it fell victim to rights issues and complications. However, you can read about the proposed album - and the film's songs and score - in great detail in this blog post from Vince Guaraldi expert Derrick Bang:

http://impressionsofvince.blogspot.com/2012/06/soundtrack-that-almost-was.html

(I should probably note that Derrick is a friend and colleague.)

If only the project had gone through! But for now, the original "A Boy Named Charlie Brown" movie soundtrack and score can best be enjoyed by watching the movie.

--Scott McGuire

 
 
 Posted:   May 29, 2015 - 8:40 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Thanks to Scott for the corrections made in the post above. I had repeated some erroneous information that has crept into a few other sources. Soundtrack Collector lists the 29 tracks of the Columbia LP as being split 13/16 over two discs. Apparently what SC contributor "solai" meant to convey was that the tracks were split that way over the two sides of the record.

As far as McKuen writing 10 songs goes, this information comes (in error as it turns out) from the American Film Institute Catalog. Herewith their listing of the film's songs:

"A Boy Named Charlie Brown," words and music by Rod McKuen, sung by Rod McKuen; "Failure Face," "Champion Charlie Brown," "We Lost Again," "Class Champion," "You'll Either Be a Hero ... or a Goat," "Bus Station," "National Spelling Bee," "B-E-A-G-E-L" and "I'm Never Going to School Again," words and music by Rod McKuen; "Big City" and "Homecoming," words and music by Rod McKuen and Vince Guaraldi; "I Before E," words and music by John Scott Trotter, Bill Melendez and Al Shean.

I tracked down the back cover of the Columbia LP, and wouldn't you know it, tracks with the "song" titles shown above are annotated as having "Music and lyrics by Rod McKuen," even though the LP's notes state clearly that McKuen composed only 3 songs for the film. As Scott states, those LP tracks likely were backed with Vince Guaraldi's musical adaptations of McKuen's 3 songs, with McKuen receiving source credit. Whoever compiled the information for the AFI Catalog likely used the credits from the "soundtrack" album to augment the credits from the film itself--a dangerous practice given how often "soundtrack" albums differ from actual film soundtracks.

 
 
 Posted:   May 30, 2015 - 5:39 PM   
 By:   filmusicnow   (Member)

I share Bob's enthusiasm for the soundtrack to the 1969 "A Boy Named Charlie Brown" film (and Guaraldi's work in general), and own all the albums he mentions in his post, as well as having done some research into the Peanuts films and TV shows. But I'm afraid I must note several corrections to his post.

Rod McKuen provided the words and music for 10 original songs for the film and co-wrote two others with Vince Guaraldi.

Rod McKuen did not write words and music for 10 original songs for the movie. There are only 3 McKuen songs in the final movie - "Champion Charlie Brown," "Failure Face", and "A Boy Named Charlie Brown." (The fourth song in the film, "I before E", was written by Bill Melendez, Al Shean, and John Scott Trotter.)

McKuen did write another piece for the movie, "Something for Snoopy," but ultimately it didn't appear in the film (and no, there isn't a "lost" animated segment to go with it - it didn't get that far); however, a version of it does appear on the McKuen album.

Nor did he directly co-write anything with Guaraldi, although Guaraldi's underscore does adapt some of McKuen's songs as instrumentals.

Columbia Records issued a two-LP “Selections From the Soundtrack” of the film (OS -3500), which featured all of the songs as sung in the film, and a few selected instrumental tracks.

The Columbia LP was not a two-disc set; it was just a single LP. Also, it is not a true soundtrack of the 1969 movie - it's really a "story of" album, like the "book and record" albums for kids, although without the book. So none of the score pieces appear in isolation on it; for the most part, they have dialog or narration over them. (The songs are more isolated, but still not entire clean and possibly not complete.)

Rod McKuen issued a more adult-oriented selection of his “Music From the Original Score” on his own Stanyan Records label (SR 5010). In addition to the title song, on this album Mckuen sang four of his other songs from the film, and provided straight instrumental versions of three others.

As Bob notes, the Rod McKuen "A Boy Named Charlie Brown" album being reissued by Varese Sarabande is definitely not a soundtrack album, and it is unfortunately misleading that Varese describes it as such.

Bob's count of "A Boy Named Charlie Brown" tracks on it is too high, alas. It contains McKuen's 3 songs from the film - "Champion Charlie Brown" (two different versions), "A Boy Named Charlie Brown," and "Failure Face" - and 2 instrumental selections - "Something For Snoopy and "Failure Face." (And as I mentioned above, "Something for Snoopy" was intended for the film, but didn't actually appear in the finished movie, so isn't immediately recognizable as music from the film.) All the other instrumental and vocal tracks on the McKuen album are from other movies.

But all the "A Boy Named Charlie Brown" tracks on the McKuen album are re-recordings/new performances - heck, two of the songs weren't even performed by McKuen in the original film, and while he did perform "A Boy Named Charlie Brown," the version on his LP is significantly different.

(The McKuen album isn't bad, and I think it's great that Varese is re-releasing it, but if folks are hoping for a real soundtrack album, they'll be disappointed.)

So, sadly, there has been nothing even close to an actual soundtrack release of the wonderful Guaraldi/Trotter score and McKuen songs from the 1969 film. An attempt to do a proper soundtrack release was made at one point, but it fell victim to rights issues and complications. However, you can read about the proposed album - and the film's songs and score - in great detail in this blog post from Vince Guaraldi expert Derrick Bang:

http://impressionsofvince.blogspot.com/2012/06/soundtrack-that-almost-was.html

(I should probably note that Derrick is a friend and colleague.)

If only the project had gone through! But for now, the original "A Boy Named Charlie Brown" movie soundtrack and score can best be enjoyed by watching the movie.

--Scott McGuire


Al Shean (Jr.), a writer for "The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show" was the son of Al Shean (of Gallagher & Shean) who was the uncle of The Marx Brothers.

 
 
 Posted:   May 31, 2015 - 12:05 PM   
 By:   AndyDursin   (Member)

Lukas did all he could to get the real thing out there. I think it's a shame as there's so much of Vince's brilliance in the score as well as a handful of alternates that would've made for an unbelievable album, and a testament to not only Guaraldi's talent but John Scott Trotter's as well. The arrangements are spectacular.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 3, 2015 - 11:22 AM   
 By:   smcguire   (Member)

Soundtrack Collector lists the 29 tracks of the Columbia LP as being split 13/16 over two discs. Apparently what SC contributor "solai" meant to convey was that the tracks were split that way over the two sides of the record.

Yes, I believe that's what they were trying to convey.

And just for completeness - I forgot to mention this in my earlier post - the Columbia LP isn't actually divided into tracks; each side is just one long track. (As I mentioned, it's really an audiobook with music, not a soundtrack.) The "tracks" listed on the back of the LP are pretty much a fiction - the LP isn't divided that way, they aren't the names of cues from the score, and the composing credits aren't correct!

As far as McKuen writing 10 songs goes, this information comes (in error as it turns out) from the American Film Institute Catalog. [...] Whoever compiled the information for the AFI Catalog likely used the credits from the "soundtrack" album to augment the credits from the film itself--a dangerous practice given how often "soundtrack" albums differ from actual film soundtracks.

It does sound like that's what happened.

I brought this discussion to Derrick Bang's attention, and it inspired him to work out the correct credits and music IDs for the Columbia LP, which he describes in a new blog post:

http://impressionsofvince.blogspot.com/2015/06/a-rather-confused-boy.html

--Scott

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 3, 2015 - 1:50 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

I brought this discussion to Derrick Bang's attention, and it inspired him to work out the correct credits and music IDs for the Columbia LP, which he describes in a new blog post:

http://impressionsofvince.blogspot.com/2015/06/a-rather-confused-boy.html

--Scott



The blog post linked above pretty much sets the record straight as to what actually appears on the Columbia LP (to which I do not have access). I appreciate Scott and Derrick's efforts. On Derrick's blog, I posted the following comment:

"I’m the original poster from the Film Score Monthly message board that started this recent discussion of A BOY NAMED CHARLIE BROWN. I appreciate all the information you’ve provided regarding what actually appears on the various releases. You could probably do all a favor by communicating with Bob Birchard, the current editor of the American Film Institute Catalog, and give him the benefit of your research.

"The AFI Catalog has moved strictly to an online format, so that errors that appeared in earlier printed versions may be corrected. (The volume on 1960s films was published nearly 40 years ago in 1976.) But a look at the current online entry for A BOY NAMED CHARLIE BROWN reveals the same errors:

http://www.afi.com/members/catalog/DetailView.aspx?s=&Movie=23632

"AFI Catalog editor Bob Birchard can be reached at bbirchard@afi.com."

 
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