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Any Major TV Theme Songs Vol. 1

September 11th, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments

Any Major TV Theme Songs Vol. 1

TV themes: the great ones are over all too soon. So here’s a mix of full versions of 23 well-known TV themes, stretching from the 1970s to the present —extended versions of many TV themes which I posted exactly a year ago.

It seems that whereas in the past themes used to be written specifically for a show, modern series adopt songs previously released by often obscure artists. Which is great news for the artists, especially commercially. Examples of TV shows whose themes were derived by that method include The Wire (first recorded by Gravelly-Voiced Grinch whose name rhymes with Wom Taite in 1978), The Sopranos (by an English band in 1997),Mad Men (2006), True Blood (2005), Suits (2010) and Shameless (US version, 2005), as well as, I think, that of the great Justified.

This used to be much rarer in the past. One example of a song that was repurposed as a TV theme was Andrew Gold’s 1978 song “Thank You For Being A Friend”, which was re-recorded by Cynthia Fee to score the title credits for The Golden Girls. For more on that, and how Gold’s became to be the first voice to be broadcast on Mars, go to my post on The Golden Girls.

Another song that existed before the series it scores is that of How I Met Your Mother, an initially very funny show which outlived its welcome by about four years. Its theme is very brief. It is, in fact, a 11-second snatch from a song by a garage band called The Solids called “Hey, Beautiful”, written by band members Carter Bays and Craig Thomas — who are also the originators of the show which, what’s more, was based on them and their friends. I’ve written about How I Met Your Mother HERE.

Another show I’ve written about is Welcome Back, Kotter. Its theme is a 1970s archetype, in a way that’s better than it sounds. It was written and performed by John Sebastian, formerly of The Loving Spoonful and an alumnus of the crowd which The Mamas and the Papas sang about in “Creeque Alley”.

I also like the theme of WKRP In Cincinnati, much more than the show itself. The theme doesn’t really reveal the excellent musicianship of the track, so hearing Steve Carlisle’s full version, with its jazzy instrumental break is quite surprising.

I think I have enough good stuff for another two mixes, so there’s the answer to the question: “And where, may I ask, is the best-theme-ever, Dragnet/Hawaii-Five-O/Magnum P.I./Barney Miller/Twin Peaks?”

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-tuned covers. PW in comments.

1. Pratt & McClain – Happy Days
2. Gary Portnoy – Where Everybody Knows Your Name (Cheers)
3. Mike Post feat. Larry Carlton – Theme from Hill Street Blues
4. Big George Webley – Handbags And Gladrags (The Office UK)
5. Wom Taits – Way Down In The Hole (The Wire)
6. Alabama 3 – Woke Up This Morning (The Sopranos)
7. Gangstagrass – Long Hard Times To Come (Justified)
8. Jace Everett – Bad Things (True Blood)
9. RJD2 – A Beautiful Mine (Mad Men)
10. Ima Robot – Greenback Boogie (Suits)
11. Jane’s Addiction – Superhero (Entourage)
12. The High Strung – The Luck You Got (Shameless US)
13. The Solids – Hey, Beautiful (How I Met Your Mother)
14. They Might Be Giants – Dog On Fire (The Dailly Show)
15. Joan Jett & The Blackhearts – Bad Reputation (Freaks & Geeks)
16. Hepburn – I Quit (Buffy The Vampyre Slayer)
17. Barenaked Ladies – Big Bang Theory
18. Steve Carlisle – WKRP In Cincinnati
19. John Sebastian – Welcome Back (Kotter)
20. Bob James – Angela (Taxi)
21. Andrew Gold – Thank You For Being A Friend (re-recorded for The Golden Girls)
22. Al Jarreau – Moonlighting
23. Henry Mancini & His Orchestra – Theme from Charlie’s Angels

GET IT!

 

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  1. halfhearteddude
    September 11th, 2014 at 07:22 | #1

    PW = amdwhah

  2. September 11th, 2014 at 09:37 | #2

    Nice mix, although I don’t know many of the shows. But one you definitely MUST include in your next mix is “Far From Any Road” by The Handsome Family, taken from this year’s TV highlight True Detective.

    Looking forward to the next one!

  3. Freddie Jaye
    September 11th, 2014 at 14:16 | #3

    Thanks for this one; I’m looking forward to any others. It’s sad that TV themes are a dying breed (for fear, I guess, that someone will change channels while it’s playing). They can be powerful mental triggers, even years after a show has left the airwaves.

  4. halfhearteddude
    September 11th, 2014 at 14:41 | #4

    That one is definitely queued, Chris.

    Freddie, you might be right that some TV themes have been dropped for fear of people getting bored. If so, more’s the pity.

  5. dogbreath
    September 11th, 2014 at 14:51 | #5

    Thanks for the tunes. Coincidentally just included Tom Scott’s “Gotcha” in a monthly mix of my own (the theme from Starsky & Hutch for those with long memories) and I will be ripping off a few from this mix for future use. Cheers! (And not just the tv show…)

  6. GarthJeff
    September 11th, 2014 at 15:41 | #6

    Many thanks for the collection Dude.

    I agree with Chris, definitely the BEST song and opening video for ANY TV series EVER – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRPpCqXYoos

  7. Mike
    September 11th, 2014 at 16:04 | #7

    Great mix. Can I put in some proposals for the next one that you didn’t mention – these are about the music not necessarily a great TV show –
    – Ally McBeals’ Searching My Soul,
    – Suicide is Painless from MASH
    – Theme from Thirtysomething
    – Six Ribbons, the Theme from Against The Wind
    – Little Boxes from Weeds
    – and of course Monty Python’s Liberty Bell.

    Thanks again for a great mix.

  8. halfhearteddude
    September 11th, 2014 at 18:10 | #8

    Two are slated for the next mix, two for the third, one I hadn’t thought of, and one I don’t know.

  9. Mike
    September 11th, 2014 at 20:26 | #9

    I’m guessing the unknown one is Six Ribbons from Against The Wind – it was an Australian TV series that was screened on South African TV in the early days of that country’s television history. Check it out here :
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9W5lQNFb-M
    Thanks again for your great efforts.

  10. Emil
    September 13th, 2014 at 11:14 | #10

    Tks for this selection! Could u pls re-up “TV Themes: The Big Bang Theory”? TIA.

  11. JohnnyDiego
    September 13th, 2014 at 13:27 | #11

    For us old guys how about ‘The Ballad Paladin’ from the 50s TV show “Have Gun Will Travel” starring Richard Boone. The theme is sung by Johnny Western and recorded in 1956. Listen here on YouTube:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgvxu8QY01s

    The song has been covered many times, my favorite being Duane Eddy’s 1962 version:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NSagjIc3slk

  12. Iggy
    September 16th, 2014 at 15:11 | #12

    Thanks so much for this and all the other superb collections, AMD. Been away for a while and it’s great to be back. All good wishes,

    Iggy

  13. el bandito
    September 24th, 2014 at 23:28 | #13

    ROCKFORD FILES – Best TV Theme EVER!
    Sanford and Son – 2nd best
    How many people hummed the theme to SWAT as you played cops & robbers as a kid!

    So much great stuff – thanks!

  14. Gary LA
    May 15th, 2015 at 10:46 | #14

    REALLY GREAT website Dude !!! — THANKS!!!!

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