Tuesday, August 8, 2017

"I Wrote One-And-A-Hlaf Theme Songs"

Actually three, but why spill all the beans in the italicized preamble?

Today’s Subject:  Why people don’t do things… for people who do too many things and are wondering how other people do less.  And for the randomly curious with time on their hands.

The modern Renaissance Man…

Wait.  Before that…

There is a category of people who don’t do things because of their proven inability to do them.  That’s me and drawing.  I wouldn’t mind being able to draw – my example was specifically not “That’s me and skiing down mountains” which I have no interest in doing whatsoever – “Sign my cast”? No, thank you.

Even today, when I draw a face it’s, like, the same face I drew when I was seven.  So forget it.  I shall leave that fertile terrain to actual seven year-olds, as they leave to me the deepening grooves around my mouth and my extended visits to urinals..DJ-Major League baseball announcer-screenwriter writer and director, did I leave anything out?... oh, yeah, blogger extraordinaire Ken Levine is also – as if all those weren’t enough – highly adept at creating The New Yorker-style cartoons. 

Ken’s auditioning submissions earned active encouragement from the magazines’ cartoon editor.  (Who, in case, you were wondering is not himself a cartoon.  The words “cartoon editor” sounding, perhaps only to sticklers, somewhat ambiguous.  

“I pick the cartoons and I also am a cartoon.  For who better to make such selections?”

No.  He is an actual person.


Although Ken was offered the opportunity to be a regular contributor if he demonstrated through further regular submissions that he had the capacity to regularly contribute, Ken opted instead for regularly contributing to M*A*S*H, and, lacking the available time to do both, that was effectively that for his career as a cartoonist. 

So there’s that.  You can unquestionably do it, but decide to do something else instead.

Then there is the third category of this investigation, wherein I fall in relation to songwriting.

I can do it.  And actually creditably skillfully.  But in my entire life,

I have only written five songs.

Making songwriting an unlikely choice as a moneymaking alternative.  Unless one of those songs is, like, “White Christmas”, where the annual royalties roll in right after Thanksgiving.  You can do pretty well just writing, “Abba-dabba-dabba, said the monkey to the chimp.”  Unfortunately, somebody not me thought that up and the residuals went elsewhere.

(It seems so easy, doesn’t it?  “Abba-dabba Honeymoon”?  The thing virtually writes itself.)

My first song, “I Hate Max”, was about a TV repairman who made my broken TV work even worse.  That one was never commercially released. 

I wrote a beautiful lullaby that I used to sing to Rachel when she was little and Rachel now sings to Milo and Jack.  So that’s pretty good – a trans-generational in-house perennial.  Sadly, it lacked a recognized life outside of the family.

Jumping ahead, I wrote the theme song to my first TV series Best of the West.  Words and lyrics.  Which seems natural to me.   (Says the man who has written five songs in his life.)  The music is metered to the rhythmic necessities of the lyrics, the words dictating the accompanying melody.  Is my experience.  (Professional songwriters may differ.)

During production, I was approached by a studio PR specialist who asked me if I would be interested – if he could make it happen and he believed he might be able to – in Willie Nelson composing the Best of the West theme song.  I did not think for a second.  I instantaneously said “No.”

PR bonanza be damned.  Nobody touches


The TV theme songs I write just come to me – I have a show, and the theme song suddenly materializes in my head.  If they had instructed me to write a Best of the West theme song, I would have never been able to do it.  But voluntarily?  Whoop –  there it is.

It happened again on my next show, Family Man – the music and lyrics just popped into my head.  I was encouraged by a family member who shall remain nameless, however, to let the professionals write the music.  So I did, including only my lyrics.
Hence, the “I Wrote One-And-A-Half Theme Songs” of the blogatorial title.

When my third aired series, Major Dad, came along, though an instrumental only this time theme song flew into my head, I was encouraged once again to defer the professionals.  (One Man’s Opinion:  My never heard version was better.)

So there you have it:  Three categories of why people don’t do things:

– Because they can’t.

– Because they can, but choose to do something else instead.

– Because they can but not frequently enough to be considered "actually doing it."

Over the years, I also composed a five-note “network identifier” on the (now Senator) Al Franken show Lateline and the first verse of a song for the short-lived Kristin Chenoweth show Kristin.  But since then, nothing. 

Oh wait.  I wrote a thing for the grandchildren.

“Don’t pee in the pool
It’s not really cool
There’s only one rule
Don’t pee in the pool…”

It’s not “Rainbow Connection” but it seems to have successfully done the trick.

So, I guess, to the question, “Are of you a songwriter”, my honest answer would be,


Turns out, I have a six-song gift.

Oh wait.  I also wrote,

“Laven sus manos (wash your hands)
Laven sus manos
Laven sus manos

Laven sus manos
Laven sus manos
Don’t pee and just walk away…”

Make that a seven-song gift.  (With two songs about pee.)

Look out Irving Berlin!  (Who to my knowledge never wrote any.)

And now, my only theme song – music and lyrics – that made it all the way to the airwaves. 

Copies available… nowhere.


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