Jeffrey Sherman was around 5 years old in 1962 when he came home one day and found his father at home, looking depressed. Jeffrey’s father was the late Robert B. Sherman, one half of the Sherman Brothers, the songwriting duo behind many of Walt Disney’s classic films.

Robert and his brother, Richard, were in the process of writing songs for the Mary Poppins classic film and had a favorite piece called “The Eyes of Love.” Unfortunately, actress Julie Andrews didn’t like the song and Walt Disney had asked them to go back to the drawing board and come back with something more in line with the philosophy of Mary Poppins. The new phrases they tried kept falling flat. The Sherman Brothers were in low spirits. 

But the conversation Robert had with 5-year old Jeffrey after he arrived home from school changed that.

In this remembrance of his father, Jeffrey, who is now 63, recorded for StoryCorps from his home in West Hills, California, where he spoke with his wife Wendy Liebman, 59, about how that day he inadvertently helped spark the creation of one of the most famous songs in the American canon.

Top Photo: A 5-year-old Jeffrey Sherman is pictured with his father, songwriter Robert Sherman, in the early 1960s. Courtesy of Jeffrey Sherman.
Bottom Photo: A Mary Poppins song book from Jeffrey Sherman’s childhood, with special dedication from the Sherman Brothers. Robert Sherman’s dedication reads, “Jeff —Thanks for ‘A Spoonful of Sugar’ and thanks for being my son! Dad.”

Originally aired January 8th, 2021, on NPR’s Morning Edition.