Welcome back to the music of Liberty Square, where this time, it’s personal!
This week, we’ll be wrapping up our look at the music history of Liberty Square, and taking a deep dive into my personal favorite background loop of all time: the Liberty Square music that played from 1980-2010, which is close to my heart.
Liberty Square isn’t an easy area to create music for. The obvious choice is Fife and Drum music, but the aggressive, militaristic aspects of a march don’t match the pastoral quality that WED achieved in this area. Imagineering must have considered all of this carefully, because in the build up to open EPCOT, they recorded a loop for Liberty Square instead of asking Jack Wagner to put one together, as they had in 1971.
Establishing the Date
Establishing the date of very old pieces of music isn’t always easy. Due to a kinship with an EPCOT Center track that will be discussed below, for many years the Liberty Square loop was assumed to have been installed in 1982, which is to say concurrent with its EPCOT counterpart. But the Liberty Square music can also be heard in numerous early Disney home videos from 1981, which means it predated EPCOT – but not by a heck of a lot. Enough to still have a firm connection to EPCOT.
But my thinking about the loop changed dramatically when Retro Disney World posted one of their restored home videos in late 2014. It’s from 1980, it has sound, and at 12:58 in the video, you can hear it – the classic Liberty Square loop.
This changed things a bit. A year in advance of EPCOT Center I could accept as a matter of convenience, but this new video brought us all the way back at least to October 1980 for the loop in question, and to me changed the way we should think of it.
Establishing the Tracks
This was an extremely difficult loop to establish an actual track listing for. To begin with, by far the bulk of the songs in this loop are marching tunes, but played at the leisurely pace of the eighteenth-century drawing room. This means it can be very tough to distinguish the songs by ear.
Further complicating matters is the fact that in the era most of these tunes most readily fit into, it was common and accepted practice to write “parodies” of other songs, fitting new lyrics to established tunes. This was often used for political purposes, so that the Yankee “The Liberty Song” is sung to the British Royal Navy anthem “Heart of Oak”, or “Free America” is sung to the tune of “British Grenadiers”. Such political profanity even gave rise to our national anthem: the English club song “The Anacreontic Song” is combined with Francis Scott Key’s “Defence of Fort M’Henry” to become “The Star Spangled Banner”.
Adding yet more complications, certain Disney tracks are interpolated into the mix. By far the most vexing is the first track, which could be heard behind the opening scenes of the 1971 “Hall of Presidents” film:
Buddy Baker’s score for The Hall of Presidents is an elaboration of his brilliant score for Great Moments With Mr Lincoln. The Lincoln score itself is rooted in themes originally written for the Walt Disney Productions television film Johnny Shiloh. I’ve watched both Johnny Shiloh and the George Bruns-scored Johnny Tremain trying to ferret out connections to this first mystery track, all in vain. The song does somewhat resemble a slowed-down version of Bruns’ “Johnny Tremain” theme, but not enough to lead me to believe that it was intended to be the same song.
Similar Baker material was recycled into the soundtrack for “America the Beautiful” in 1967, and Walt Disney World Forever listed the 1994 Hall of Presidents cues as “America the Beautiful”, apparently in error. For lack of anything better, I’ve called the track “Constitutional Convention”, it’s name on the original LP.
If there are any specialists of the music of the late-eighteenth and early nineteeth century out there and you recognize something I’ve mislabeled, please speak up – I’m only working with my own ears here. I’ve included some dates for the authentic music here to show how careful Baker was in selecting songs of the appropriate time period for Liberty Square.
Liberty Square BGM 1980 – 2010
Buddy Baker/WDP, Arranged by Walter Sheets
01) Constitutional Convention – Buddy Baker?, 1971
02) The Liberty Song – John Dickinson, 1768
03) Chester – William Billings, 1770
04) Yankee Privateer – Traditional; circa 1779
05) Unknown B
06) Yankee Doodle – Traditional; circa 1755
07) Molly Malone – Traditional; circa 1830
08) Free America – Dr. Joseph Warren, 1774
09) Unknown C
10) The Liberty Tree – George Bruns, 1957
11) The Girl I Left Behind Me – Traditional; circa 1812
12) Hail Columbia – Philip Phile, 1798
13) Unknown B
14) Yankee Doodle – Traditional; circa 1755
This version of the loop is compiled from a new induction recording of the American Adventure BGM and secondary sources provided by Chris Lyndon and is presented in the highest quality possible. Most other online presentations of the loop cut tracks 13 and 14, which simply repeat tracks 5 and 6, but this is indeed part of the proper loop and they are retained here.
The American Adventure tracks include wind instruments, harmonicas, drums, and other features missing from the Liberty Square tracks – even on songs like “Carry Me Back To Old Virginny”, which would seem to lend themselves to similar treatment. In other words, they were probably recorded in a separate session, with a distinct group of instruments.
The American Adventure had been under development in one way or another since the mid-70s. It had been worked on long enough ago that Marc Davis, who left WED in 1978, had developed a version of the show called “America Speaks”. Davis seems to have been the one who hit on the idea of teaming up Ben Franklin, Mark Twain, and Robert Benchley (later Will Rogers) to host the show. So if recording music for EPCOT’s America pavilion in 1980 seems extraordinarily early, it isn’t really, even if the final form of the show was still very much an ongoing question. Along with World of Motion and Universe of Energy, it was one of the few shows for EPCOT Center that had been progressing through the WED pipeline unchanged since the 1970s.
I think the Liberty Square tracks sound different because they were intended to be different – and, more pointedly, they were recorded specifically with Liberty Square in mind. The meandering, rolling quality of the “American Adventure” tracks – in line with the easy-listening vibe of World Showcase – are brought together with the sprightly salon music of Liberty Square to form the American Adventure BGM, one of the few loops in World Showcase to have a split personality.
If this split alone doesn’t silently suggest that the tracks were recorded with Liberty Square in mind, then the inclusion of two significant pieces of Baker’s score for the Hall of Presidents – under the direction of Buddy Baker himself – should seal the deal.
The Part Time Loop
That’s pretty much how things stayed for 30 years. It may even have been longer; everyone I’ve ever talked to says they remember that Buddy Baker loop since forever ago. Then, following a major refurbishment of the Hall of Presidents in 2009, the Liberty Square music changed in early 2010.
Liberty Square – Area BGM (2010 – Present)
01. Stars and Stripes Forever 
02. King Cotton 
03. Washington Post March 
04. The Royal Welsh Fusiliers 
05. El Capitan 
06. The Gridiron Club 
07. I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy (Four Cohen Songs) [Edited] 
08. Invincible Eagle 
09. Gallant Seventh 
10. The Liberty Bell March 
11. Comrades of the Legion 
12. Hail to the Spirit of Liberty 
13. You’re a Grand Old Flag 
14. Stars and Stripes Forever 
15. Semper Fidelis 
16. The Gunners 
17. Radetzky March 
18. Ancient Honorable Artillery Company 
19. George Washington Bicentennial 
20. The Chimes of Liberty 
21. National Emblem 
 Esprit de Corps by the United States Air Force Concert Band (CreateSpace)
 Forward March! Great American Marches by the US Army Band (Altissimo Records)
 A Grand Sousa Concert by the Nonpareil Wind Band (Angel Records)
 Marching to Glory by Various Artists (Pickwick PWK050)
 Sousa Spectacular by the Eastman Wind Ensemble (Phoenix)
 Sousa’s Greatest Hits by the United States Marine Band (Altissimo Records)
 West Point on the March by the United States Military Academy Band (Altissimo Records)
Notes: Playlist based on a 2010 induction recording by Horizons and compiled by Horizons and wedroy1923. Additional information by wedroy1923. Thanks to Horizons on 04/04/2013 for finishing this playlist.
If fife and drum music made Liberty Square seem too militaristic, then the Sousa and Cohan extravaganza represented by this loop is just as incongruous. Absolutely nothing about this loop is appropriate to Liberty Square in tone or in time period. Even more bizarrely, perhaps as a compromise, the 1980 Liberty Square music – the real Liberty Square music – plays in November and December as “Christmas Music”. Even a brief glimpse at its track listing above will tell you that the songs have nothing to do with Christmas.
Interestingly, perhaps aware that there is a major disconnect between the Liberty Square music and Liberty Square itself, Imagineering has reduced its footprint over the years. They’ve begun playing the Columbia Harbour House music around the exterior of that building, and a muted organ version of Grim Grinning Ghosts near the Haunted Mansion, splitting Liberty Square up into three zones, with the Sousa banished to the area immediately around the Hall of Presidents. But time hasn’t made this any more appropriate than it was in 2010. Some new BGM tracks, like the Caribbean Plaza Pirates movie soundtrack music or the “contemporary Japan” music played in World Showcase seem weird at first before synthesizing into the whole, but the 2010 Liberty Square track still stands out. It’s just a bad choice.
Of course Sousa marches don’t fit with Liberty Square – everything about the architecture and sense of space that WED achieved in this, the richest area of Magic Kingdom, is oriented towards a homey, welcoming, peaceful atmosphere. Liberty Square may be a town on the brink of revolution, but it’s also a place where the leisurely turning of a paddlewheel sets the tone and every American president agrees to get along – on stage at least.
If I’m right in my guesses above – and I’m willing to bet that I am – then the 1980 Liberty Square loop was entirely designed to reflect the atmosphere of the area as it was actually built. And it worked. It worked perfectly. Few integrations of music and themed design have ever been as snugly, and as tightly woven. As a transition from Main Street into Frontierland. Liberty Square was the pastoral, the slow movement of the symphony between the go-for-broke American optimism of Main Street and the rough and tumble Frontierland.
But the choice for or against a piece of music comes down to more than that, because more than almost any area music I can think of, the 1980 Liberty Square music – overseen and created by two Disney Legends, used in park for two generations without feeling dated – belongs to Liberty Square, just as surely as “Yo Ho” belongs to Pirates of the Caribbean. Six years of marching music in Magic Kingdom’s best land is too long. It’s time to bring back the 1980 Liberty Square music, for good. Some things just can’t be improved on.
Ready for more? Visit the Passport to Dreams Theme Park Music Hub.
Or, hop a monorail to the past and spend a full “day” at the Walt Disney World of the 1970s by downloading Another Musical Souvenir of Walt Disney World.