Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Favorite TV Show Theme Songs

As a someone who grew up on television and a lot of music, I paid close attention to the theme songs to TV shows. For me, a good theme song was very important, as it would capture my attention and pique my interest in the show. As an adult, I still pay attention to the music on television shows, and I'm more likely to watch a show I've never seen before if I like the intro music or song.

The theme song for "The Munsters"
This is my all-time favorite TV-show theme song. It's an infectious ghoulish groove with some surf guitar thrown into the mix to give it some rock flavor. And I really dig how the characters are introduced during the theme song: Granpa trying to bite Lily Munster's arm, Herman Munster clomping down the stairs, Eddie Munster getting annoyed at his Mom for fussing over him. Great stuff.

The theme song was written by Jack Marshall, who was a guitarist, conductor, composer, author and teacher. A veteran studio guitarist, Marshall played the guitar part himself, as he didn't trust anyone else to play it properly. He also scored the music for episodes of the show.

Additionally, Marshall composed music for other TV shows, such as "The Deputy," "The Debbie Reynolds Show," "Laredo" and "Have Gun, Will Travel." And Marshall also scored music for films. His film credits include Thunder Road, Tammy and the Millionaire, Kona Coast and Stay Away Joe. Marshall, who died at only 52 in 1973, lectured on guitar technique at the USC School of Music and wrote two books about guitar.

The Munsters

Ricky | MySpace Video

Theme song to "The Wire"

"Way Down in the Hole" is the bluesy, gospel intro song to "The Wire," and it puts the viewer right in the mood for this gritty and riveting crime drama. The song was written by singer/composer/actor Tom Waits, and the version by The Five Blind Boys of Alabama was used for the intro to the first season. Waits' original version was used for the second season intro. In all, there have been five different versions of the song used for the intro, a different one for each of the series' five seasons. It's a shame the show didn't have a longer run.

"The Wire" is without a doubt one of the best series that HBO has ever aired. It's a compelling and intelligent look at the drug trade on the rough streets of Baltimore. The series gives a fascinating view of the situation shown from three different perspectives: the dealers, the police and the politicians.

Here is the intro to the first season with The Five Blind Boys of Alabama's soul-stirring rendition of "Way Down in the Hole":

And here's Tom Wait's searing original version used for the second-season intro:

Theme Song for "Spider-Man"

As a kid I was a comic book fanatic. I was obsessed with them and constantly bugged my parents to buy them for me. I only collected Marvel comics, because I thought their comics had the best artwork as well as the most interesting characters and stories. I still have about 300 Marvel comics from way back in the day. Spider-Man was, and still is, one of my favorite Marvel characters. His character was fairly complex for a superhero. He always seemed conflicted about his superhero status, and it was more of a burden for him than anything else. Plus, he never got the credit he deserved from the public for his efforts. He was treated like an outcast or pariah most of the time. Spider-Man was one of the early misunderstood superheroes, and that's what intrigued me so much about him. I must still have at least 35 Spidey comics stored away somewhere.

While the TV "Spider-Man" cartoon wasn't nearly as good as the comic book, I still watched it. What I liked most about the show was its theme song. I know it's kind of cheesy, but it still has a certain charm to it and is catchy as hell. It also has a great bridge. The song was written by Academy award-winning lyricist Paul Francis Webster and composer Bob Harris. The song has been covered by a number of musical artists, including The Ramones and Aerosmith.

The Ramones cover of the song:

"The Rockford Files" Theme Music

Even if it didn't have any association with the show, I still would have noticed the theme to "The Rockford Files" as being a great piece of music. The music sounds rugged like the protagonist Jim Rockford but also has an easygoing vibe that also fits Rockford's character. The harmonica part gives it a down-home feel. And the Moog synthesizer provides a nice balance to the harmonica, a creative fusion of old-school and new technology. Back when the show first aired in 1974, the use of a synthesizer on a television series theme song was pretty new.

Producer/musician/composer Mike Post co-wrote the theme with longtime collaborator Pete Carpenter. Post is one of the most successful and prolific composers in television history and has written memorable melodies to numerous hit shows, including "Hill Street Blues," "L.A. Law" and "NYPD Blue." He has won five Grammys and an Emmy for scoring television theme music.

Carpenter was a jazz trombonist, arranger and veteran of television theme song scoring. He began his musical partnership with Post in 1968, which lasted until his death in 1987. The two scored more than 1800 hours of television music together and collaborated on hugely popular shows such as "Magnum, P.I.," "The A-Team" and "Hunter." The two won a Grammy for "The Rockford Files" theme in 1975. The duo also composed music for film, including Vanishing Point and Rabbit Test.

Rockford Files Season 1 intro

whytrytwice | MySpace Video

No comments: