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TV Theme Songs: Growing Pains

"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 from Growing Pains titled "As Long As We Got Each Other". Growing Pains ran for seven seasons and 166 episodes from 1985-1992 on ABC. The theme song “As Long As We Got Each Other” was co-written by Steve Dorff and John Bettis. If you didn’t know already, you might also be interested that Bettis is the lyricist for other '80s hits like Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature”, Madonna’s “Crazy For You”, The Pointer Sisters’ “Slow Hand” and Whitney Houston’s Olympic theme “One Moment in Time”. Dorff has had 15 Top 10 hits himself, songs in nine #1 films plus three Grammy and five Emmy nominations over several decades in the industry.

B.J. Thomas performed the theme song solo for the first season, but then as a duet with Jennifer Warnes for seasons 2, 3, 5 and part of 7. Warnes is probably known best for a couple other duets "Up Where We Belong" with Joe Cocker and "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" with Bill Medley. For season 4, Thomas performed it as a duet with Dusty Springfield which was also released as a single in 1988. Here is the opening theme for Growing Pains from season 2 featuring "As Long As We Got Each Other" performed by B.J. Thomas and Jennifer Warnes...

I had the privilege of an interview with Steve Dorff and here is a portion of what he had to say about composing this theme song:

John Bettis and I were friends and had been writing songs together for a few years when I was asked to look at the pilot episode of Growing Pains. I was asked to write a theme song very quickly and I asked John if he wanted to do it with me as we were scheduled to get together that week to write. I basically told him the story of the show, and he came up with the title “As Long As We Got Each Other” which was very representative of what this sitcom family was all about!

We wrote the 60 second version in about an hour start to finish and played it for the producers the next day. They loved it and actually suggested Frankie Valli to sing it. I had worked with B.J. Thomas several times over the years and thought he was a better fit. B.J. recorded it for the first season and we adapted it as a duet in the second season with Jennifer Warnes. We later wrote a second verse and had a top ten record with B.J. and Dusty Springfield.

Again, I pretty much let the music write itself from instinct. Hard to explain, but I generally have the musical feel in my head before my hands ever touch the piano. This was a song that John and I just started playing and the words just fell out very quickly. Everyone at the show and ABC network loved the theme which of course is always nice! Over the course of the series, there were nine versions of the theme song used; others included a Halloween-themed version not sung by Thomas or Warnes used in a two-part Halloween episode in 1990. There was also an a cappella version of the song used for all of season 6. That version was abandoned for most of season 7 in favor of the reinstatement of the Thomas and Warnes duet version, although the a cappella theme returned for three episodes and the series finale. As mentioned earlier, a full-length version by Thomas and Springfield was actually released as a single in 1988 receiving radio airplay and peaking at #7 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart in early 1989. Here is the opening theme from season 4 featuring "As Long As We Got Each Other" by B.J. Thomas & Dusty Springfield...

It doesn't sound all that different and, to be honest, I am a little partial to the Jennifer Warnes duet version myself. Either way, "As Long As We Got Each Other" is a terrific theme song and one of the best the '80s decade has to offer. "We got each other, sharin' the laughter and love." Hope you enjoyed tuning in for another "episode" of TV Theme Songs!


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