Thursday, March 16, 2006

Shlameel, Shlamazel, Hasenfeffer Incorporated

As I've spent the entire week bed-ridden with a severe flu, idle upon the couch, emptying my nose of unspeakables and fighting off fevers (yesterday's temp: 103), the highest intellectual pursuit for which I've been capable is obvious: TV.

The thing about night sweats, chills and fevers is you start experiencing weird psychic phenomenon, hallucinatory dreams, bizarre fixations. The thing about watching TV for three days straight is...exactly the same.

So I've been watching a whole helluva lot of "Laverne & Shirley." It's taken me 30-odd years to realize this was just a vaudeville show. Yesterday, Lenny and Squiggy went duck hunting with hand-puppets for decoys - ha! Granted I'm biased by the precision nostalgia this particular show captures for me. I think the theme song is maybe the best one ever written for TV. That's saying a lot considering "Welcome Back, Kotter," "WKRP in Cincinnati" and "Good Times." But having watched the show for the last few days on TV Land, I noticed how the song sounds really upbeat and ennervating at the beginning of the show ("I'm happy! This is fun! Yay!"), then brings you to tragic tears at the end because you're so frickin' sad that the show is over ("NO! NO! DON'T BE OVER! DON'T FADE OUT! OH GOD!"). It's a perfect happy-sad song. Is that just the fever talking? Dunno. "Making our Dreams Come True" was written by Norman Gimbel and Charles Fox, sung by Cyndi Grecco, who apparently is known for little else. As far as I'm concerned, she's golden.

Anyway, this "Laverne & Shirley" fan fiction site made me feel like i'm not alone in the world. But am I delusional enough to buy this? Answer: Maybe! The samples on this site are encouraging.

Earlier this week I noticed that some DNA from the "Dallas" theme song had made its way into a song by a Montreal postrock trio called Torngat. "Alberta Song" is a beautiful instrumental with a plush French horn melody starting at minute 1:03 that immediately conjures images of J.R. Ewing. Not sure this serious French-Canadian ensemble is prepared to concede this. But there is a French "Dallas" fan site detailing "La Saga des Ewing." That said, listen to the original and imagine removing the wah-wah guitar and piercing synth note -- interesting!

Then there's this Decemberist song "Los Angeles, I'm Yours," which at minute 2:08 begins to take on a distinct 1980s TV theme song riff -- in the spirit of "Dallas," although I've not yet pinpointed the exact reference. But I want to! Can anyone target it? It's something about the harmonica or recorder or whatever it is. Then the cascading string section. Hmmm...fevers...


Django West said...

Hmm when I think harmonica and 70's TV I just come up with Rockford Files, but that's not it, is it?

Barnadine said...

Another great fade out happy-sad moment, of course

"You're gonna make it after all..."

Said theme, in my mind, sounds strangely of a piece with the L+S theme. When I was young I used to run one in to the other if I was humming or singing them to myself.

Perhaps the whole open-shirt-big-sapphire-rock-necklace-wearing TV theme songwriter thing extended beyond mere appearances, to a deeper, aesthetic brotherhood...

Also, what about the end of Paradise Lost?