The Jungle Book “The Bear Necessities” (1967)

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“The Bear Necessities” is quite likely the most recognizable song from this film, and certainly one of the most famous Disney songs of all time. We’ve actually gone backwards in the story, as this song precedes “I Wanna be like You.”

Mowgli, determined to NOT go to the “Man village” has run off from Bagheera the panther, and while sulking in the jungle, hears a strange creature approaching….only instead of the dangerous tiger Shere Khan, it turns out to be only Baloo the bear, brought to life by the one and only Phil Harris (working most of his career in radio, this was his first turn at voice acting, he would also be Thomas O’Malley in The Aristocats (1970), Little John in Robin Hood (1973) and finally Patou the dog in Rock-a-Doodle (1991, his final role).

After teasing Mowgli for a while (even engaging in a mock sparring fight), Baloo decides that he really likes Mowgli (or “l’il britches”, as he calls him), and decides that he’ll raise him as a bear in the jungle (ignoring/dismissing Bagheera’s objections to this turn of events). To that end, “The Bear Necessities” consists of Baloo teaching Mowgli how bears, like himself, live in the jungle, which is to say, they don’t really work, they just eat whatever is around them, because the jungle provides food EVERYWHERE! If you understand this, then you get “the bear necessities of life.”

The Jungle Book “The Bear Necessities”

Look for the bare necessities
The simple bare necessities
Forget about your worries and your strife
I mean the bare necessities
Old Mother Nature’s recipes
That brings the bare necessities of life

Wherever I wander, wherever I roam
I couldn’t be fonder of my big home
The bees are buzzin’ in the tree
To make some honey just for me
When you look under the rocks and plants
And take a glance at the fancy ants
Then maybe try a few
The bare necessities of life will come to you
They’ll come to you!

A running gag throughout the first part of the song involves Mowgli attempting to emulate Baloo in gathering food, but failing miserably every time (can’t break a coconut with his head, sticks his finger on a prickly pear, almost gets crushed by a rock AND gets buried in an avalanche of bananas).

Look for the bare necessities
The simple bare necessities
Forget about your worries and your strife
I mean the bare necessities
That’s why a bear can rest at ease
With just the bare necessities of life

Now when you pick a pawpaw
Or a prickly pear
And you prick a raw paw
Next time beware
Don’t pick the prickly pear by the paw
When you pick a pear
Try to use the claw
But you don’t need to use the claw
When you pick a pear of the big pawpaw
Have I given you a clue?

The bare necessities of life will come to you
They’ll come to you!

The Sherman brothers (who wrote all the songs in this film, amongst many other Disney films) wanted the music of The Jungle Book to have a “big band era” feel to it, so the music is full of swinging trumpets, saxophones and other jazzy instruments. This song in particular, always makes me want to get up and dance, no matter how tired I feel, and that’s a good type of song.

So just try and relax, yeah cool it
Fall apart in my backyard
‘Cause let me tell you something little britches
If you act like that bee acts, uh uh
You’re working too hard

And don’t spend your time lookin’ around
For something you want that can’t be found
When you find out you can live without it
And go along not thinkin’ about it
I’ll tell you something true
The bare necessities of life will come to you

I hope you enjoyed this look at “The Bear Necessities.”  Tomorrow will see a look at another classic song, “That’s What Friends Are For” aka “The Vulture Song” (I LOVE those vultures!!)

P.S. If you’re interested, I found a neat clip of Phil Harris on The Ed Sullivan Show singing a three song medley (sadly “The Bear Necessities” was not one of them), but it gives you a look at him singing in person. Enjoy!

Phil Harris on The Ed Sullivan Show

*all images are the property of Walt Disney Studios

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For earlier entries of The Jungle Book, see:

The Jungle Book “Trust in Me” (1967)

The Jungle Book “My Own Home”

The Jungle Book “I Wanna Be Like You” (1967)

The Jungle Book “That’s What Friends Are For/The Vulture Song”

The Jungle Book “Colonel Hathi’s March”

For more great Disney songs and films, check out the main page here: Disney Films & Soundtracks A-Z

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6 thoughts on “The Jungle Book “The Bear Necessities” (1967)

  1. Pingback: The Jungle Book “I Wanna Be Like You” | Film Music Central

  2. Pingback: The Jungle Book “Trust in Me” | Film Music Central

  3. Pingback: The Jungle Book “That’s What Friends Are For/The Vulture Song” | Film Music Central

  4. Pingback: The Jungle Book “My Own Home” | Film Music Central

  5. Pingback: My Disney Mix Tap (Featuring Film Music Central) | Drew's Movie Reviews

  6. Pingback: The Jungle Book “Colonel Hathi’s March” | Film Music Central

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