Getting From “Things That I Like” To “My Favorite Things” Was More Than Five Days

I frequently write about how people don’t often appreciate the process of failure and revision involved with any creative endeavor. The belief that those with talent succeed whereas those without need to find another line of work can prevent people from investing the time and effort of learning, practicing and exploring so crucial to the creative process.

A month or so ago I received a magazine from the Library of Congress (LoC) which was focused on Broadway related materials in their collection.

Page 10 & 11 discussed the process Oscar Hammerstein II went through while writing the lyrics for The Sound of Music‘s “My Favorite Things.” LoC has Hammerstein’s handwritten notes on 10 sheets of legal pad showing the transition of the song, originally called Good Things, to the familiar song we know today.

As you can see in the image below, there were some fun imagery that got cut out of the song – riding down hill on my big brother’s bike; icy cold water right out of a well; wading a river and flying a kite, waking at morning and sleeping at night.

At first the song contained the line “these are a few of the things like I like,” which LoC suggests is a little clunky. Once he hit on the phrase “favorite things” he brainstormed words rhyming with -ing.

The LoC piece discusses other changes, both subtle and major, that the song underwent. It is pretty interesting to see all the choices made and discarded.

If you get to reading the LoC article and thinking about how it took him about five days to move from his first draft to a more or less completed set of lyrics, realize that in 1959 The Sound of Music was about the 47th show he had a hand in creating since 1919. Plus, he had directed or produced the revival of 2-3 of his shows in that period.

What you see here represents the investment of a lot time and the accumulation of a lot of experience.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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