TV Theme Songs: Reading Rainbow
"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 Reading Rainbow. "Butterfly in the sky. I can go twice as high. Take a look. It's in a book. A reading rainbow." Reading Rainbow debuted in July of 1983 and ran for 21 seasons and 155 episodes on PBS. Hosted and executive produced by LeVar Burton, the show was designed to encourage a love of books and reading among children. With the show's noble efforts and solid execution, it is not surprising Reading Rainbow has received more than 200 awards, including a Peabody Award and 26 Emmy Awards, 10 of which were in the "Outstanding Children's Series" category.
The show's theme song was written by Steve Horelick, Dennis Neil Kleinman, and Janet Weir. Horelick also served as the series' music director and composer for all 155 episodes and finally received an Emmy nomination in 2007 for his work on the series. Over the show's 23-year run, Reading Rainbow went through three different versions of the theme song. The original theme used for the first 15 years (from 1983 to 1998) was performed by Tina Fabrique. Fabrique is best known for her roles on Broadway and in musical theater. The song accompanied the original opening sequence which consisted of an animated butterfly transforming children's reading books into animated fantasy lands.
Beginning in 1999, episodes began using a new live-action opening sequence featuring a CGI space-themed world, with a new arrangement of the original song by Steve Horelick and performed by Johnny Kemp who was best known for 1988's "Just Got Paid". That version was only used for one season and then a third opening was used starting in 2000, with a rerecorded version with the original lyrics performed by the amazing Chaka Khan. As great as Chaka Khan is, the original version is the one that is from the '80s and probably the one most people recognize from the show. So, here are the opening credits for Reading Rainbow featuring the original version of the theme song...
There aren't too many kids who grew up in that era that do not have a fond connection to the show's theme song. "I can be anything. Take a look. It's in a book. A reading rainbow." Hope you enjoyed tuning in for another "episode" of TV Theme Songs!