Comedy Division, by Rich Paschall
This was a tough category to narrow down. Even just considering comedies over the years you can compile a massive list. There really have been quite a few good ones. When tossing songs from consideration, I found I had to let go of some of those jingles that are more of a novelty than a good song. That would include things like Car 54 Where Are You? and The Beverly Hillbillies. For this same reason I eliminated a few of my favorites like Gilligan’s Island, Mr. Ed and The Addams Family.
Cartoon themes could easily have been a component here, but I liked too many of those and think I may have to produce a Top 10 list some day. I will hand out an honorable mention to The Simpsons for this category, however. The long running prime time series, soon to enter its 27th season, is known by just about everyone with a pulse. So you certainly know the opening theme.
We can also give an honorable mention to a closing theme. While the opening tune for All in the Family may be well-remembered, the closing had a completely different song, Remembering You. The tune was written by Roger Kellaway with lyrics by the show’s star, Carroll O’Connor. If you search You Tube, you can find a performance by O’Connor singing the song, and not as Archie Bunker.
10. WKRP theme. The fictional radio station was quite a hit in the 1970’s, along with the theme by Tom Wells and Hugh Wilson.
9. Making Our Dreams Come True, from Laverne and Shirley. The Happy Days spin-off had a theme by the same pair that gave us the Happy Days theme, Norman Gimbel and Charles Fox.
8. I Love Lucy. The tune was not written by Desi Arnaz, although his orchestra played the famous theme. Eliot Daniel wrote the music but was not given credit at the time, since he was under exclusive contract to another studio. The lyric by Harold Adamson was only sung by Arnaz on the show one time.
7. Movin’ On Up, from The Jeffersons. The All In The Family spin-off produced a great opening theme by Ja’net Du Boise.
6. Where Everybody Knows Your Name, from Cheers. Yes, this popular tune makes the top of some lists. The song was performed by the composer, Gary Portnoy, and was so popular he recorded a longer version for release after the show began. It also earned him an Emmy nomination.
5. The Muppet Show theme by Muppets creator Jim Henson and Sam Pottle. The prime time puppet show was way beyond Sesame Street. The little ones may not have gotten all the jokes, but the show was always fun to watch. The openings varied each season, but the music was the same.
4. The Andy Griffith Show theme by Earle Hagen, Herbert Spencer and Everett Sloane. It’s Hagen that is doing the famous whistling. Sloane wrote words and Griffith later recorded that version, with him singing instead of the whistling.
3. Welcome Back, Kotter by John Sebastian. The former Lovin’ Spoonful singer did not have much of a solo career until this number 1 hit song in 1976. The television series was a hit as well.
2. Happy Days by Norman Gimbel and Charles Fox. The song perfectly fit the nostalgic TV series set in an earlier time. The original opening was Rock Around the Clock by Bill Haley but was soon replaced by this original theme song.
1. Those Were The Days from All in the Family. The tune by Lee Adams and Charles Strouse was so popular that Carroll O’Connor and Jean Stapleton, the stars of the show, performed it for each studio audience.