Song Spotlight: “Que Sera Sera”

Que Sera Sera - Song Spotlight |
  • Mood: Carefree
  • Themes: Parenting, Advice, Anticipating the Future
  • Tempo: Easy waltz
  • Genre/style: 1950s popular

Mother’s Day is coming up this Sunday, so I wanted to share with you one of my favorite songs for encouraging discussion about mothers and motherly advice: “Que Sera, Sera.” Made famous by the inimitable Doris Day (see her version on YouTube here), this song debuted in the 1956 Alfred Hitchcock movie “The Man Who Knew Too Much” and later became the theme song to The Doris Day Show, which aired from 1968 to 1973.

Since the song “Que Sera Sera” is so strongly associated with Doris Day, it is worth a brief detour to look at her career and legacy. The top female money-making star of the last 79 years, Doris Day appeared in 39 films, recorded more than 650 songs, was nominated for an Academy Award, and won a Golden Globe and a Grammy Award. Day has been described as the quintessential All-American girl with the Hollywood-style “girl next door” image. In addition to her work as an actor and singer, she has also been tireless in her activism for animal welfare, and the Doris Day Animal Foundation continues her work in this area. Now in her late 80s, Doris Day lives today in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California.

When I introduce the song “Que Sera Sera” to my older adult clients, Doris Day is sometimes mentioned in connection to this song and certainly can be a person worth remembering in a discussion. What I like best about this song, though, is how it can naturally lead into two great discussion topics: motherly advice, and taking life as it comes.

Here are some of the words to this song:

When I was just a little girl, I asked my mother, “what will I be?”

“Will I be pretty? Will I be rich?” Here’s what she said to me:

Que sera, sera. Whatever will be, will be.

The future’s not ours to see. Que sera, sera. What will be, will be.

The discussion that follows can focus either on the topic of motherly advice in general, or on the advice specifically offered in this song. The general topic of motherly advice can be quite concrete for participants who need that. I might ask what kinds of memorable advice a person got from his mother or gave to her children, and I will offer an example based on how concrete I think the discussion needs to be. For example, a couple of ideas that I might suggest are “eat your veggies” (more concrete) and “how to be polite” (less concrete). Some of these ideas can even be put into song form using the original melody. (“Here’s what she said to me: Eat your vegetables, always say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’,” etc.)

For groups or individuals that are willing and able to dig a little deeper, this song specifically offers the advice to take life as it comes – not to worry too much about the future because whatever will happen, will happen. This can be a particularly meaningful topic for older adults to share with younger loved ones because they probably have seen their fair share of twists and turns on the road of life, ending up in a place different than they might have imagined when they were younger. It also might be an appropriate topic for older adults as they work through the difficulties and uncertainties arising nearer the end of life. Some questions to ask: Do you think it’s true that what will be, will be? Are you willing to accept things as they come? What does this say about worrying about the future? Have you experienced this in your own life? Have you shared this advice with others?

The Doris Day Show had the reputation of being a rather lightweight sitcom, and its theme song could come across as simple and carefree. For me, though, I think this song says something more profound about life itself and the way we teach each other about how to face life’s challenges and triumphs. On the holiday when we honor the women who have been our guides along life’s path, this song seems perfect.

What do you think? Do you have any other favorite songs for Mother’s Day? Let us all know in the comment section below!

This post is part of an occasional series on special songs to share with your loved ones. For more song spotlights, click here.


  1. Nicole McDavid on May 13, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    Hello there, I am a music therapist working in Salem, OR and I just stumbled on to your blog. I just used this song, Que Sera Sera this week with my clients and it was a instant success. I’m excited to follow your posts.

    PS: I chuckled when I saw you using this blog theme because I just started using it too!

    • soundscapemusictherapy on May 16, 2011 at 4:03 pm

      Hi Nicole! Thank you for your comment. I’m glad you’re finding this song to be useful, too. 🙂

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