Appreciating all that makes America special

Ashman and Menken, Songwriters

Howard Ashman and Alan Menken first worked for Disney providing the music and lyrics to The Little Mermaid. They followed up with Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin.

It’s very possible you’ve never heard of Ashman and Menken. But I’m a huge fan. I’m especially awed by the lyrical talents of Howard Ashman, who was nothing short of brilliant in putting together the smartest lyrics of anyone I can think of (well, aside from Cole Porter.)

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The two teamed up in 1982 to create the then off-Broadway hit musical Little Shop of Horrors. Ashman directed the play, then went on to write the screenplay for the cult favorite film version. Disney found them, and they worked together on The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast , and Aladdin. Sadly, Ashman died of AIDS at the age of 41, before Aladdin was completed. Menken has continued to write for Disney, and has done fine work, but the lyrical spark provided by Ashman has never been equaled.

If you know the music from these musicals, you already appreciate “Feed Me,” “Skid Row,” and “Suddenly Seymour” from Little Shop… “Under the Sea,” “Poor Unfortunate Souls,” and “Kiss the Girl,” from Mermaid, and “Be Our Guest” from Beauty. Here are a couple of videos – if you know the songs, you’ll enjoy them again. If you don’t, listen and appreciate these tremendous talents.

 

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