“The Bare Necessities”

“The Bare Necessities” is a song being recited primarily by Baloo. Baloo is a fictional character, actually a bear, from the Walt Disney animated universe.  And he is addressing one of his counterparts in “The Jungle Book”, Mowgli.  Mowgli is like a young mentee to the elder and more-experienced Baloo. And the lesson Baloo is imparting on him via this particular tune is that he should not overcomplicate life. Rather his focus, if you will, should be on the bare necessities.

And Baloo presents himself as a living example of someone who lives by this mantra. For instance, he depicts his home as one own which, via the bounty of nature, food is always an arm’s length away. This may require him making some unorthodox dietary choices. But the bottom line is that food is not a problem.

Then in the second verse, Baloo gives Mowgli some practical advice about surviving in the wild. Specifically he tells him how to go about eating specific fruits without injuring himself.

Now the punchline of this song, if you want to view it that way, is that Baloo is telling Mowgli that “the bare necessities” are such that one does not have to actually seek them out. Rather they will come to him if he just learns how to relax. So if we were to actually try to apply this song to real life, what it seems to be premised on is an idea like the bounty of nature. In fact in Baloo’s mind and in his environment it is so abundant that he can live a long, happy life just chillin’ as opposed to truly exerting himself. And on a general philosophical level, it would be espousing an ideology such as minimalism being the key to a happy life. And he wants Mowgli to accept this same sort of outlook.

Lyrics of "The Bare Necessities"

Facts about “The Bare Necessities”

This song was written by Terry Gilkyson (1916-1999). He wrote it specifically for the classic Disney animated film “The Jungle Book”. And it came out, via Walt Disney Records, as a part of the soundtrack to that movie in 1967.

It was Gilkyson who was originally tasked with writing all the songs for “The Jungle Book”. However, at the end of the day, all of the ones he did write, with the exception of “The Bare Necessities”, were rejected.

This track went on to earn Gilkyson an Academy Award nomination. This was specifically in the category of Best Original Song, in 1968.

“The Bare Necessities” is sung by Philip Harris (1904-1995) and Bruce Reitherman. Harris and Reitherman respectively voiced Baloo and Mowgli in the film.

And throughout the ages “The Bare Necessities” has been covered by some of the biggest names in show business. This list includes the likes of the following:

  • Louis Armstrong (1968)
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks (1969)
  • Harry Connick Jr. (1991)
  • Tony Bennett (1998)
  • John Goodman (2003)
  • Julie Andrews (2005)
  • Bill Murray (2016)

1 Response

  1. Anonymous says:

    There’s a song in 1968’s Oliver! that sort of builds on Bare Necessities called It’s a Fine Life which pretty much explains the same thing about joy to be had even if you don’t have much. Just something I picked up on.

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