“The Candy Man” is one of those songs which never fails to lift your mood, no matter what’s going on in the world.
Many of us remember it fondly from watching the movie “Willie Wonka And The Chocolate Factory” as children…and perhaps again with our own children and grandchildren. It brings back memories of happy times and safe spaces, being surrounded by love, and smiles on children’s faces.
The “Willie Wonka” movie was adapted from Roald Dahl’s book “Charlie And The Chocolate Factory” (good family quiz night question there — the movie and the book had two slightly different titles).
Roald Dahl had written lyrics for some of the songs in his original book, but “The Candy Man” was written specifically for the film by a partnership which came about as close as you could get to songwriting royalty in the late 1960s and early 1970s — lyricist Leslie Bricusse and composer Anthony Newley.
While the names of those two British songwriters might not be instantly recognisable, I can guarantee you know many of the songs they have been involved with, either as writers or co-writers, including “Goldfinger” (with music by John Barry to Bricusse and Newley’s lyrics) and “You Only Live Twice” (with lyrics by Leslie Bricusse to John Barry’s composition), “Talk To The Animals” from “Doctor Doolittle” and “Feeling Good”, popularised by Nina Simone and a staple of TV talent show auditions ever since.
Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newly wrote across a variety of different styles, covering a range from Shirley Bassey’s soaring vocals on “Goldfinger” to the pensive uncertainty of the Grammy-winning “What Kind Of Fool Am I?” (originally sung by Anthony Newly himself, but later covered by many popular artists, including Sammy Davis Jr who had a hit of his own with the song).
But it’s probably fair to say the emotions Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley deliver in spades for “Willie Wonka”, and particular, in the very memorable “The Candy Man” sequence, are carefree joy and unbridled happiness, the like of which which most adults rarely experience.
The only times most adults get to rediscover those feelings, if they’re lucky, are in their own childhood memories and in the faces of their children and grandchildren…