Tag Archives: Song of the Roustabouts

Frozen “Frozen Heart” (2013)

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Of all the ways I thought Frozen would begin, I didn’t expect it to be with a group of ice harvesters hauling up huge blocks of ice. However, in retrospect, this opening absolutely works because it lays out the major themes of the film before we’ve even met any of the main characters (sure we do see young Kristoff and Sven but we don’t know who they are yet).

In “Frozen Heart,” the harvesters are sawing away on top of a frozen lake and singing about the dangers of a frozen heart:

Born of cold and winter air
And mountain rain combining
This icy force both foul and fair
Has a frozen heart worth mining

So cut through the heart, cold and clear
Strike for love and strike for fear
See the beauty, sharp and sheer
Split the ice apart!
And break the frozen heart

Hyup! Ho! Watch your step! Let it go!
Hyup! Ho! Watch your step! Let it go!

Beautiful!
Powerful!
Dangerous!
Cold!

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Ice has a magic, can’t be controlled
Stronger than one! Stronger than ten!
Stronger than a hundred men!

Hyup!

Born of cold and winter air
And mountain rain combining!
This icy force both foul and fair
Has a frozen heart worth mining

Cut through the heart, cold and clear
Strike for love and strike for fear
There’s beauty and there’s danger here
Split the ice apart!
Beware the frozen heart…

It’s immediately clear that this song is referring to Elsa and her ice powers, which are both beautiful and dangerous. The power of ice is stronger than a hundred men and should be feared. However, looking back after the film, some of the lines can also be interpreted as referring to Hans, who most definitely has a “frozen heart” given how he used Anna and left her to die in an attempt to usurp Arendelle’s throne for himself.

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While listening to this song, something about it felt familiar, but I couldn’t quite place it. Then I learned that “Frozen Heart” is a tribute to Dumbo’s “Song of the Roustabouts” and it all made sense: the heavy cadence, the rhythmic singing, both songs are performed the same way (albeit with wildly different subject matter). Also, like the song in Dumbo, “Frozen Heart” is performed in the evening, with low light. This really is the kind of musical performance that sucks you right into the story.

“Frozen Heart” is a great prologue/introduction to the film and is the first of several great songs in Frozen. Let me know what you think of “Frozen Heart” in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Frozen “For the First Time in Forever” (2013)

Frozen “Love is an Open Door” (2013)

Frozen “Let it Go” (2013)

Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar/etc. Soundtracks A-Z

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Dumbo “Song of the Roustabouts” (1941)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

Forgive the pun but I decided it’s time to clear another elephant out of the room. Unfortunately, for everything good that Disney has contributed to film and animation, there are multiple examples of Disney portraying things they probably want to forget about. One example is the “Song of the Roustabouts” from Dumbo (1941). After baby Dumbo arrives on the train (via late delivery from the stork), the train pulls in to where the circus will be held the following day. As a storm breaks out, the elephants and other animals disembark to help set up the big top, accompanied by the roustabouts: these are unskilled laborers, often employed for hard labor.

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It’s hard to tell given this scene takes place at night, but the roustabouts in Dumbo are all African-American, and given that this takes place in 1941 the lyrics are…interesting to say the very least. The song starts off with cries of “Hike! Ugh!” as the singers/workers establish a driving pattern to aid in driving in the tent stakes:

Hike! Ugh! Hike! Ugh! Hike! Ugh! Hike!
We work all day, we work all night
We never learned to read or write
We’re happy-hearted roustabouts

Hike! Ugh! Hike! Ugh! Hike! Ugh! Hike!
When other folks have gone to bed
We slave until we’re almost dead
We’re happy-hearted roustabouts

Just stop and look at these two verses alone: according to the roustabouts they can’t read or write, they work extremely hard and yet despite all this they’re “happy-hearted roustabouts”? It sounds ironic in 2018 but in 1941 they’re being quite serious.

Hike! Ugh! Hike! Ugh! Hike! Ugh! Hike!
We don’t know when we get our pay
And when we do, we throw our pay away
We get our pay when children say
With happy hearts, “It’s circus day today”

This is the verse that disturbs me the most, it implies that when the roustabouts DO get paid, they promptly blow their money on frivolous things (keeping in line with certain stereotypes about African-Americans being lazy, etc. Remember, this was 1941 and these things were considered acceptable then).

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Muscles achin’
Back near breaking
Eggs and bacon what we need (Yes, sir!)
Boss man houndin’
Keep on poundin’
For your bed and feed
There ain’t no let up
Must get set up
Pull that canvas! Drive that stake!
Want to doze off
Get them clothes off
But must keep awake

During this long section, the other animals are shown helping in the set up, mostly the elephants moving stakes and poles, but the camels are helping too. It’s funny, when I watched this movie as a young kid, I was convinced that the circus animals really did help in this way. Even Dumbo is seen doing his part alongside his mother.

Hep! Heave! Hep! Heave! Hep! Heave!
Hep! Heave! Hep! Heave! Hep! Heave!
Hep! Heave! Hep!

Swing that sledge! Sing that song!
Work and laugh the whole night long
You happy-hearted roustabouts!
Pullin’, poundin’, tryin’, groundin’
Big top roundin’ into shape
Keep on working!
Stop that shirking!
Grab that rope, you hairy ape!
Poundin’! poundin’! poundin’! poundin’!
Oh

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The storm that started when the train arrived has now become a full-on thunderstorm (poor Dumbo hides in fright from the lightning). And the song does throw in one last unbelievable line with “Grab that rope, you hairy ape!” (I really won’t explain that one in further detail since it really speaks for itself). At last, despite the driving rain and winds, the big top is raised and come morning the circus is ready to begin!

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It might seem strange to focus on these songs (especially given the issues going on in the country right now), but I can’t let these songs slip away unnoticed. Not writing about them is tantamount to saying they never happened, but they did. So on that note, I hope you found “Song of the Roustabouts” interesting. Let me know what you think of this song in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Dumbo “Look Out For Mr. Stork” (1941)

Dumbo “Pink Elephants on Parade” (1941)

Dumbo “When I See an Elephant Fly” (1941)

Disney Films & Soundtracks A-Z

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