Climb Ev'ry Mountain
|"Climb Ev'ry Mountain"|
|Single by Shirley Bassey|
|from the album Shirley Bassey|
|B-side||"Reach for the Stars"|
|Writer(s)||Rodgers and Hammerstein|
|Shirley Bassey singles chronology|
"Climb Ev'ry Mountain" is a show tune from the 1959 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The Sound of Music. Here it is sung at the close of the first act by the Mother Abbess. It is themed as an inspirational piece, to encourage people to take every step towards attaining their dreams.
This song shares inspirational overtones with the song "You'll Never Walk Alone" from Carousel. They are both sung by the female mentor characters in the shows, and are used to give strength to the protagonists in the story, and both are given powerful reprises at the end of their respective shows. However, as Oscar Hammerstein II was writing the lyrics, it developed its own inspirational overtones along the lines of an earlier Hammerstein song, "There's a Hill Beyond a Hill". He felt that the metaphors of climbing mountains and fording streams better fitted Maria's quest for her spiritual compass. However, the muse behind the song was Sister Gregory, the head of Drama at Rosary College in Illinois. The letters that she sent to Hammerstein and to Mary Martin, the first Maria von Trapp on Broadway, described the parallels between a nun's choice for a religious life and the choices that humans must make to find their purpose and direction in life. When she read the manuscript of the lyrics, she confessed that it "drove [her] to the Chapel" because the lyrics conveyed a "yearning that … ordinary souls feel but cannot communicate."
Although this song has parallels with "You'll Never Walk Alone," the song shares musical similarities with the song "Something Wonderful" from The King and I. Both songs are played at a similar broad tempo, and both songs have accompaniments punctuated by heavy chords in the orchestral score.
The song has often been sung by operatically trained voices in professional stage productions. In the original Broadway production it was sung by Patricia Neway, in the original London production it was sung by Constance Shacklock, and in the original Australian production it was sung by Rosina Raisbeck.
In the original stage play, the Mother Abbess sings the song at the end of the first act. When Ernest Lehman wrote the screenplay for the film adaptation, he shifted the scene so that this song would be the first major song of the second act. When Robert Wise and his film crew were filming this scene, Peggy Wood had some reservations about the words, which she felt were too "pretentious." So they filmed Peggy Wood in silhouette, against the wall of the set for the Mother Abbess' office. However, Peggy Wood's singing voice is ghosted by Margery MacKay, the wife of the rehearsal pianist Harper MacKay, as Wood was not able to sing the high notes of the song.
Tony Bennett had a very minor hit in 1960 with his recording of the song. The Fleetwoods released a cover version of the song that can be found on their 1990 album, The Best of The Fleetwoods. In 1961, Welsh singer Shirley Bassey recorded the song and released it as part of a double A-sided single with "Reach for the Stars." It reached #1 in the UK and remained on the charts for 18 weeks.
In 2003, Guy Sebastian's interpretation of "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" was seen by TV viewers of Australian Idol season 1 when he performed it on the 1960s theme night. Sebastian went on to win and become the first Australian Idol. In 2004, he recorded "Climb Every Mountain" for the B-side of his #1 single "All I Need Is You".
In 2007, the song was adapted for the "Confidence" television campaign for the National Australia Bank.
- Maslon, Laurence (2006). The Sound of Music Companion. London: Pavilion Books.
- Fordin, Hugh (1995). Getting to Know Him: A Biography of Oscar Hammerstein II. New York: Da Capo Press.
- Hirsch, Julia Antopol Hirsch (1993). The Sound of Music: The Making of America's Favourite Movie. Chicago: Contemporary Books.
- Chartstats - "Climb Ev'ry Mountain", UK chart run
"Johnny Remember Me" by John Leyton
|UK number one single
"Reach for the Stars"/"Climb Ev'ry Mountain"
by Shirley Bassey
21 September 1961 (one week)
"Johnny Remember Me" by John Leyton