They’re Playing Our Song….TV Stars and their Theme Songs at the 1986 Emmy Awards

A fundraising walk-a-thon in the 9th grade not only holds the distinction of occupying an entire Friday spent out of school uniforms, but also providing an opportunity to brush up on the theme song lyrics of my most favorite sitcoms. My friends and I decided to partake of this impromptu singalong, challenging ourselves to create a chain of songs without stopping or repeating any tunes. It was effortless at first, with Full House and The Golden Girls themes being sung word for word. I believe we may have eventually resorted to humming wordless themes,LOL, but there was never a lack of material from which to choose.

For some reason, TV theme songs always seem to hold a place in our hearts, and our eardrums, perhaps more so than any other forms of musical pop culture. While any high school grad may have difficulty reciting the Pythagorean Theorem, I would bet my bottom dollar that the names of the inhabitants of Gilligan’s Island and the Brady household would roll off the tongue in record time. Even the songs of shows that we rarely watch become embedded in our memory (I found myself recently humming a distantly familiar tune, realizing it to be the theme to Knot’s Landing, a serial I don’t recall watching an entire episode of from beginning to end). Perhaps our favorite TV themes though, are the ones that represent what we love about our most beloved shows. Andrew Gold’s lyrics to Thank You For Being a Friend bring to mind that plane flying over the sunset of Miami, as we eagerly anticipate what our four favorite Grandma’s will be up to this episode. Jack Tripper falling off his bicycle to that oh-so-70’s opening guitar solo always makes me want to go to Happy Hour down at the Regal Beagle. And am I the only one who can’t look at a car driving down a desert highway without thinking I’m at a jazz lounge where Linda Lavin is performing?

The latter example brings to mind an interesting situation – the pairing up of actors to theme song. Sure, it’s kind of weird to think that Dr. Jason Seaver wrote about taking the good and the bad (yep, Alan Thicke cowrote The Facts of Life theme song!?), but not so strange when it’s performers from the same series. Alice Hyatt sang about being the new girl in town, The Brady Kids told the story of that lovely lady, and the 1986 Emmy Awards featured a sweet little gem I recently came across on YouTube. Highlighting some of the most beloved shows accompanied by a corresponding star, the audience of this awards show got the treat of seeing abbreviated musical vignettes from Marlo Thomas as That Girl, everyone’s favorite Army nurse from the 4077 (who knew that MASH had words to its theme?), and Bea Arthur singing that song about Lady Godiva that I can’t ever remember the words to. Even the stars who simply enter the stage to greet the audience garner loads of nostalgic warmth and affection (whose heart doesn’t melt when they see Lassie?)

If you’re in the mood for a nice little musical TV pairing, (which I highly recommend you should be,LOL), take a stroll on over to YouTube and check out this 1986 tribute to TV theme songs. It’ll make you want to come and knock on our door, move on up, and have some good times. Oh – and seeing John Boy waltz with a Solid Gold dancer to The Waltons’ theme may just make your day. ;)

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