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Travel Back With “Journey to the Past”

Happy #SongLyricsSunday! It has been a while, hasn’t it? Halloween is one of the busiest times for me as Halloween is a week-long celebration at work and had to work at two parties. I also performed for two Halloween-themed shows with friends. It was lots of fun but really tiring at the end. Then, I got sick in the middle of everything. But, since things have sort of quieted down (well, Christmas performance preparations have already started and that is a busy time too), I can resume blogging.

Today’s #SLS prompt is about the past, the present, and the future. I chose the song “Journey to the Past” from one of my favorite animated films Anastasia. This Don Bluth-directed film is such a magical film and I love the songs from it, especially “Once Upon a December”. I remember when it came out during Thanksgiving of 1997, and falling in love with it. Then, a couple of weeks later, The Washington Post published a piece that the remains of the Romanov family has been discovered. Though my little seven-year-old heart was crushed that Anatasia was dead, the fantasy of the movie is something I still appreciate to this day.

Let’s take a deeper love into “Journey to the Past”. Find out which iconic 90s singer sang a version of this tune!

On This Journey to the Past

Journey to the Past

“Journey to the Past” was written for the 1997 film by lyricist Lynn Ahrens and composer Stephen Flaherty. It expresses Anya/Anastasia’s desire to follow clues about her past to learn about who she is and who was her family. The songwriters wrote the song in such a way to convey the various emotions that Anya was feeling as she venture out into the real world for the first time. Flaherty incorporated a lot of unique melodic lines in the song like the song’s introduction (to represent the heartbeat when it races wildly with fear and excitement) and the feeling of motion (to represent the character traveling).

The movie version was sung by veteran Broadway singer Liz Calloway. Originally, Callaway was hired only to sing for the demo tapes of each song that would appear in the film. However, the film(‘s producers and songwriters hired her to provide Anaya/Anatasia’s singing voice after hearing her sing. Callaway recorded the final version for “Journey to the Past” in only one take.

Heart Don’t Fail Me Now

A shot from Aaliyah's "Journey to the Past" music vidoe

To make the song appeal more to mainstream viewers, FOX Studios hired record producer Guy Roche. They wanted him to produce a popR&B version of “Journey to the Past”. Roche picked Aaliyah to be the version’s singer after hearing her demo. The music producer thought the “Princess of R&B” was a perfect choice with her “character, smile, and looks exuded something very, very sweet and gentle, very kind and peaceful”. Aalyiah’s version is cool, jazzy, and hip-hoppy with certain notes and lyrics changed to fit her unique vocal style. Critics praised Aaliyah’s take as it was a departure from the edgy R&B music she did at the time. She was offering a side of her to showcase her powerful vocal.

Then twenty years after the original film premiered, the song saw a new light in the Broadway adaption of Anastasia. This version was performed by Christy Altomare (who played Anya/Anastasia). The song’s position changed in the Broadway production. In the film, it was at the beginning. However, it was performed at the very end of Act I. The reason for this was to make the song more of an “I Want” song (as the producers wanted to grow the character more during the first act). Also, to express the differences between Russia and France (as Act I was set in Russia and Act II was in France).

Final Thoughts

My favorite version of “Journey to the Past” is Aayliah’s. I love her voice. It is soulful yet has elements of smooth hip-hop and R&B in it. And, just her presence did have that type of star power. But, she also was like the girl next door with her sweet and gentle personality. Yet, all three versions are equally as great and are a must-listen!

Take a listen to “Journey to the Past” down below> Let me know what you think! What is your favorite version?

Here is the R&B version, performed by Aaliyah:

Here is Christy Altomare performing the song for the final performance of the musical adaption:

The Rules for #SongLyricsSunday

(This challenge is currently hosted by the generous Jim Adams.)

Anyone can participate in #SongLyricsSunday, even if you aren’t a music blogger! If you want to participate, here are the rules:

  • Post the lyrics to the song of your choice, whether it fits the theme or not.
  • Please try to include the songwriter(s) – it’s a good idea to give credit where credit is due.
  • Make sure you also credit the singer/band and if you desire you can provide a link to where you found the lyrics.
  • Link to the YouTube video, or pull it into your post so others can listen to the song.
  • Pingback to this post will eventually work, as long as you are being patient, but you can also place your link in the comments if you don’t like to wait.
  • Read at least one other person’s blog, so we can all share new and fantastic music and create amazing new blogging friends in the process.
  • Feel free to suggest future prompts.
  • Have fun and enjoy the music.

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Travel Back With "Journey to the Past"

This Post Has 21 Comments

  1. newepicauthor

    I never watched Anastasia, but it looks good. Thanks for sharing this Amy.

  2. Janis

    Awesome choice girl!! This is one of the favorites… I have a lovely memory singing this song with my sisters when we’re “younger” — thanks for sharing and making me remember to play this once again!!

  3. crisshex88

    I’m ashamed to say it, but I never saw “Anastasia” even when she came out, I was just a child, all my classmates loved it!

  4. bye:myself

    Since I’m really not into musicals at all, I didn’t know these tunes. It’s a bit sad to see Aaliyah, though 🙁

  5. Luna S

    Anastasia is one of my favorite movies! I love the music in it too, it always gets stuck in my head after watching it.

  6. Luna S

    I have always loved this movie! The songs are great and I love her little dog and the bat.

  7. risalopez

    I never watched Anastasia before, but it looks like a great show.


    I remember seeing this animated film years ago. I don’t remember the songs in it though.

  9. Lyosha Varezhkina

    Oh I remember this cartoon. It was very fun to watch, I was so impressed with the cartoon I still remember how we went to watch it. it is my earliest memory

  10. Joline

    This made me want to watch the movie again! I loved it when I first saw it.

  11. Shar

    Travel to the past and Halloween themes are both very interesting! I will listen to more tracks from Anastasia.

  12. Stephanie

    I remember this movie, too, but kind of forgot about it! It’s out on Disney+ so I’ll have to introduce my boys to it. I think both versions of the song are great, it’s hard to pick one over the other.

  13. Polly

    Two of my favorite things: Aaliyah and Anastasia. Liz Callaway did a superb performance of the song but I too adored Aaliyah’s version.

  14. Neely Moldovan

    Anastasia is such an underrated movie! This reminded me I should show my kids!

  15. Thena Franssen

    This was super interesting to me. I remember watching this growing up so I loved seeing these memories again.

  16. goodbitesbyche

    Wow! Thank you for sharing this. Anastasia is one of my favorite movies!

  17. seadbeadyblogs

    I saw that movie together with my 5 year old granddaughter and also loved the song

  18. rachel

    I absolutely love the aaliyah version of this song!

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