Music and Lyrics By: Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman
Performed By: Various Artists
Distributed by: Varese Sarabande Records
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
When I was a kid, I must have read Charlotte's Web by E.B. White a dozen times. I loved this book in which a scared little farm pig becomes friends with a barn spider. When the animated film adaptation of the book came to television, I loved it as much as the book. Thus, I was thrilled to learn that Varese Sarabande Records would be releasing a new vinyl edition of the Charlottes Web Soundtrack on November 17, 2017 and that I would get the opportunity to review the soundtrack for G-POP.net.
In the 1973 animated adaptation of the E.B. White classic children’s book, Wilbur (Henry Gibson) is the runt of a litter of piglets at John Arable’s (John Stephenson) farm. The farmer is about to put the piglet down, but his daughter Fern (Pamelyn Ferdin) stops him and raises Wilbur as her pet. Six weeks later, Wilbur has matured and is sold to Fern’s uncle Homer Zuckerman (Bob Zolt). It is here that Wilbur utters his first words to a goose. Despite meeting all new animals on Zuckerman’s Farm, Wilbur has no real friends, some keeping their youngsters from him simply because he is “not their kind,” while others have no interest in playing with a young pig. It is while he is in pursuit of friendship that he learns that it is a matter of time before he is fully matured and ready for slaughter.
Horrified at the thought of his eventual fate, Wilbur sobs heartbrokenly until a voice tells him to cheer up. He soon learns that the voice belongs to Charlotte A. Cavatica (Debbie Reynolds), a spider that lives in a web overlooking Wilbur’s pen. They quickly become friends and Charlotte devises a plan to spare his life. She begins spinning words in her web like “SOME PIG” and, getting the other farm animals in the game, like Goose (Agnes Moorehead) and Templeton the Rat (Paul Lynde), Charlotte begins spinning more words like “TERRIFIC” and “RADIANT.” The spun words gather a great deal of publicity, so Zuckerman decides to enter Wilbur in the county fair.
Though Wilbur doesn’t win first prize, he is honored at the fair and Homer Zuckerman decides to spare Wilbur’s life. Not all is rosy though. Charlotte’s time on this Earth has grown thin and it is up to Wilbur to make certain that her offspring make it back to the farm and survive the winter. Though most of the 514 children leave upon hatching the next spring, three remain behind and he befriends them as only Wilbur can.
Listening to the songs on the Charlotte’s Web Soundtrack made me smile. I remembered each and every one of them fondly, especially the lullaby Mother Earth and Father Time, performed beautifully by Debbie Reynolds. I always loved A Veritable Smorgasbord, a song performed by Agnes Moorehead and Paul Lynde as Goose persuades Templeton to go to the fair to help Wilbur and Charlotte. What’s in it for him? A veritable smorgasbord of disgusting things to eat. Chin Up is a fun, uplifting song performed by Charlotte to lift up Wilbur’s spirits and Zuckerman’s Famous Pig is hilarious.
Released exclusively to Barnes & Noble for the first time in four decades, the Charlottes Web LP is a limited edition with Pink Pig Vinyl and black webbing. The soundtrack is great for any fan of the original animated film and represents a great way to pass the tale down to the younger generations, playing the songs we heard while watching Charlotte’s Web as a kid and teaching them acceptance, loyalty and friendship. I loved singing along with the Charlotte’s Web Soundtrack and have no doubt that other fans of the movie will too.