TV Themes really are woven into our musical-brains in a unique way. They signal certain years and seasons of our lives with distinct and focused clarity. If we loved the show, the theme probably added to it. When we heard it coming on, we ran from the kitchen with our popcorn and Pepsi in hand, it’s time, our hearts beating faster. **Smile.
In these days of Tivo and Apple TV, Netflix and Hulu-Plus, we watch whole seasons in a week or two, treating shows more like a mini-series than episodic TV, and if you watch more than one episode at a time, it does become monotonous to hear many of the themes over and over. But if the theme actually adds to the fun or the intrigue or the feel of the show, then I must insist on experiencing the song again and again.
Like with Mad Men: the musical theme is a must. It sets a sexy tone of intrigue whether I am marathoning or just fitting one episode into my evening. When the grandbebes are here, they beg to watch Gilligan’s Island over and over and the song is key to the slapstick fun!
I want my own theme song
Wouldn’t that just be fun? If, right before you arrived to meet your friend for coffee at Starbucks, or as you were coming down the stairs in the morning, a song started playing – a song that captured your essence and impish sweetness and set the tone for a special half-hour with you? I want that, dangit! I want to be wearing a yellow dress, just sort of gliding through life and have the world break forth in song in my wake. Hahahahaha! I laugh, but I may not actually kidding…*ahem
I sat down with a pen and wrote a quick list of some of my favorite TV theme songs from my growing up years. It is one of the fastest lists I have ever made. I had to keep crossing things off to keep the list from being my top FIFTY favs to just being 20…or so. ;)
A Spotify Playlist follows.
BEST TV THEMES from the 1960s and 1970s (in my humble opinion) ~ In no particular order…
- Brady Bunch. Well, I mean, if you were going to have a blended family, how wonderful for every single person to be so cute, looking at each other sweetly from blue boxes. The Brady Bunch was a social-landscape-changing show, and like many shows of the time, told the whole background setting in the 30-40 second theme song. Hilarious! “Here’s the story of a lovely lady,” sing along with me now!
- Partridge Family. OMYGOODNESS!!! Have you never read this blog before? This is THE quintessential show of my childhood and really – the theme of my life in its’ entirety, is it not??? Everybody – let’s SING!
“Hello, world, here’s the song that we’re singin’
C’mon get happy!
A whole lot of lovin’ is what we’ll be bringin’
We’ll make you happy!
We had a dream we’d go travelin’ together,
We’d spread a little love and then we’d keep movin’ on.
Somethin’ always happens whenever we’re together
We get a happy feelin’ when we’re singing a song.
Trav’lin’ along there’s a song that we’re singin’
C’mon get happy!
A Whole lot of lovin’ is what we’ll be bringin’
We’ll make you happy!
We’ll make you happy!
We’ll make you happy!”
- Rockford Files. Instrumental. It was really my dad’s show. But the song charted on pop stations and is an earthy, sexy, adventurous, upbeat, ornery-cool song. Mike Post won a Grammy for best instrumental arrangement in 1975. Can’t sing to it, but can love me some James Garner – and those cute answering machine messages he’d leave for his creditors!
- Happy Days. This show just took the early 70s by storm. It was set in the late 50s-to-early 1960s with Poodle skirts and saddle shoes and the Fonz. I recall my mom totally not getting the appeal, as she had “already lived through that era” and was glad it was over. But the jukebox and the bobby-soxer were the rage and this show was just the thing! Thumbs-up, “Aaaaayyyyy!”
- Andy Griffith Show. The whistle. It was one of the earliest shows of my memory. I watched it with my mom while she’d be ironing clothes and she always whistled along. She taught me how when I was 3 or 4. But I can’t do it now. What’s up with that?
- The Beverly Hillbillies. A little Bluegrass, here. Just such a fun song to sing, and again, one of those that gave you the whole back story in a theme song. Genius! “Come and listen to a story ’bout a man named Jed…”
- Gomer Pyle, USMC. This one didn’t have words, either, but what a rousing, fun intro that made you want to watch Gomer smile that big, goofy smile and stand at attention in an attention-getting way and say, “Well, goll-ll-ll-ll-y!”
- I Love Lucy. Who wouldn’t love Lucy? Partly why I always wanted to have red hair.
- Perry Mason. Those eyes ~ and the broadest shoulders on TV ever! I LOVE a man in a well-cut suit and tie. Don Draper does it best these days (besides Dave, of course), but Perry was my man. I still think about becoming a lawyer and shaming people into a confession!
- Sesame Street. This show came on when I was all of about 10 and I just remember thinking, “How wonderful that the little children have such a cool show they can watch now.” Secretly, I wished I could, too, because of this TV theme song which got lots of play on the pop stations in its early days.
- The Dick Van Dyke Show. Perfect example of an instrumental TV theme that absolutely captured the fun and sophistication of the cast and characters and everything about this show. It really has to be one of the greatest ensemble casts with more talent per square-minute than almost any other, ever. It was beautiful, it was funny, and this song was the platform for the genius performances. SO good!
- Batman. It had words. Na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na Batman!
- The Love Boat. In one hour, all your romantic problems could be fixed on the high seas. “Love exciting and new, come aboard. We’re expecting you…” I came aboard every Saturday night for 4 years. :)
- The Monkees. Now this one is weird. Because I love the theme, but the actual show was totally beyond me, really. I wasn’t in tune to the humor, but I watched because I thought if I kept trying, I’d get there. But I loved their songs. Still do.
- I Dream of Jeanie. Well. Don’t make me explain why I had to like this one.
- Welcome Back, Kotter. A teacher returns to teach at his old school after his dreams had been his ticket out. John Travolta = Vinnie Barbarino. Good song. Cute Vinnie.
- The Patty Duke Show. See what I mean? Not only did Patty Duke get to have her own theme song, she got to be 2 different characters. Ok. That’s it! Now I want my own theme song AND I want to be able to have more than one personality! But both – engaging and wonderful!
- The Courtship of Eddie’s Father. Well, mid-century-modern cool, period. Seeing a dad as a friend was foreign to me, but I was very impressed at how Bill Bixby did it. I think it changed American perceptions about dads. The images during the theme song (not to mention those voice-over low-key conversations between a boy and his dad ) are undeniably strong.
- Green Acres. “Green Acres is the place to be. Farm living is the life for me!” I could not have sang that better myself! I get Mr. Oliver Wendell Douglas. I get him. Now where is my version of that house and farm and cast of silly characters, including a pig named Arnold? Where, I ask you?
- My Three Sons. This theme song also has a particular visual I could not NOT watch! It is so scaled-back hip, animated line-drawing cool! HAD to watch it whenever I could!
I recall quite a few shows for a girl with no TV at home from the mid-60s until the World Series of 1971, huh?
Bonus info…THESE two shows (also my favs)…
UNO:::The Mary Tyler Moore Show, “Who can turn the world on with her smile?” I wanted to grow up and wear the outfits she was wearing and “take a nothing day and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile,” and toss my hat into the air in the middle of the city just like Mary. The great strength of this show was an incredible supporting cast, strong characters and how it visually captured changing times. Great lyrics, warmth, memory-making, fun-to-sing! One of the best ever ~ and the one that sparked me thinking about TV themes because this actually could be a theme song for my great niece, Emilee. :)
DOS:::That Girl! (Marlo Thomas) I loved this show, but Marlo carried most of it. She did have the amazing Donald (her TV boyfriend), but her supporting cast didn’t do enough for her, I don’t think. “She’s everything that every girl should be….That girl!”
have led to today’s:
Uno + Dos + Tres = ::: New Girl starring Zoey Daschenal. This is one of my fav TV show themes ever, really! “Who’s that girl? Who’s that girl?
It’s me!” Oops, “It’s Jess!” Well, I mean – I was wishing for some props like these and ya know: my own theme song.
Here is a YouTube playlist of all three openings. That Girl ~ Mary Tyler Moore Show ~ New Girl. Do I need to submit any further evidence of the need for a personal theme song? It ensures good lighting at all times, a fabulous wardrobe, and hats and good hair days, together or on their own. *sigh….
The MAIN problem I had was when I went to create this playlist on Spotify…
I saw so many other shows with great themes, too. Like Room 222, which I think I wrote a whole blog post about a few years back. Of course you cannot deny the power of Gilligan’s Island to make. you. crazy!!! I hate it, but the theme song is catchy. There was Hawaii 5-0, Bewitched (which I wasn’t supposed to like because of witches), and Family Affair, not to mention The Munsters…and so many more!
Many of these are not actually the original, but this is a fun, happy, good-memory kind of playlist, anyway!
4 thoughts on “Music on a Monday // Best TV Themes from the 1960s and 1970s”
I was thinking about you today so I thought I’d look and see if you still had a blog. You do! So I’m popping in to say hello (I don’t seem to have your email address anymore).
Why hiya, Mandi-K! I still have that crazy old yahoo-mail acct! :)
Such memories…all those theme songs. :) As a fellow Nonna, just wanted to say we do have a theme song. Think 70’s …Nonna Na Na Nonna Na Na, Hey, Hey, Goodbye. lol I sing it to the Grands. Each of our family have their own songs. My Mandi, who’s song is sung to the Bonanza theme song.” Amanda, pretty little Amanda, eyes of blue hair of gold” etc., has a song when I call on her cell. It says, in a sassy voice, “It’s your Momma calling. She wants to talk about the cat, about your dad getting fat……” Not the theme song I want. haha
Though it’s a little too feminist for me I would like the devil to hear as I come on the scene, Prayer Warrior that I am, this theme…”.I am woman Hear me Roar”…then I might change a few words. But I would like to have that power so the enemy would wish I wouldn’t show up to pray.
Keep blogging sweet friend. We so enjoy it.
Donna you are awesome! I had not thought of that song as a Nonna song! Haha!