TV Theme Songs: Cheers

"Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale" of a time when television shows began with awesome TV Theme Songs. "Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name" and sometimes you want to go back to when TV Theme songs were special. "Here's a story... of a lovely" time when TV Theme Songs served to identify, distinguish and set the stage for the television program that followed. "You take the good, take the bad, take them both and there you have" what unfortunately has become a lost artform. "Believe it or not", sadly it seems no effort or pride is taken in the TV Theme Song ever since Seinfeld proved a short synth-bass riff could be used instead. “Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!” This regular feature may not "make all our dreams come true", but it will remember some of the best TV Theme Songs from years past (with a focus on the '80s decade). "Come aboard, we're expecting you."


This time we will cover the theme song for Cheers titled "Where Everybody Knows Your Name". "Makin' your way in the world today takes everything you've got. Takin' a break from all your worries sure would help a lot. Wouldn’t you like to get away?" Another top candidate for the very best TV Theme Song of all time and basically tied with "Believe It or Not" as my personal favorite. Cheers ran for 11 seasons and 275 episodes debuting in September of 1982 and ending in May of 1993. The series was almost cancelled after its first season, but found its following in season 2 and went on to be one of the most-watched and critically acclaimed sitcoms of the '80s. Cheers received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Comedy Series all eleven of its seasons on the air and earned 28 Emmy Awards from a record of 117 nominations during its run.


The theme song was co-written by Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo. The pair proposed three other theme songs before landing on "Where Everybody Knows Your Name". After several months of mulling over possible outside singers, the producers eventually asked Gary Portnoy himself to record the vocal based on listening to the original demo. Interesting to note that the chorus of the song is actually six of Portnoy’s vocals that he recorded one on top of the other to create the harmony of the hook. They also kept the intimate piano opening as well as the arrangement and instrumentation very simple just like the demo. So many great choices that allowed this song to find its place and capture the essence of Cheers to perfectly. Here are the opening credits of Cheers featuring “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” performed by Gary Portnoy…



Gary Portnoy went on to co-write and perform the theme song for Punky Brewster and co-write the theme song for Mr. Belvedere which are both solid TV Theme Songs in their own right and we may cover those in future issues. Portnoy was quoted as saying, "I approached the Cheers theme - and all that followed - as 'songs' rather than 'themes.'" I believe this a big reason these songs, and especially "Where Everybody Knows Your Name", resonate so strongly with me and countless others. Portnoy surprisingly did not have any other big hits, but he will always have our appreciation for one of the greatest TV Theme Songs in the history of television. And it was all because he figured out one common truth... "Sometimes you want to go Where everybody knows your name."


Hope you enjoyed tuning in for another "episode" of TV Theme Songs!

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