Day 49. Your favorite TV show theme song.
“The Rockford Files” – Mike Post
Back before “Magnum P.I.,” “Monk” and the current batch of Sherlock Holmes shows (“Elementary” in the U.S. and “Sherlock” in the UK—both good), there was Jim Rockford (and his files). And back before digital synthesizers, sampling and the ultimate demise of the long-form TV show theme in favor of an additional commercial, there was “The Rockford Files” theme song.
Mike Post was a prolific TV theme song writer. Trust me when I tell you that you know way more of his songs than you think you do. And he (along with Pete Carpenter) was responsible for this one. The thing that always grabbed me about it was the main synth line with its portamento note slides (although at the time I had no idea what a synth line or portamento were.) It was this that put “The Rockford Files” ahead of its chief competitor, “Welcome Back.” (No, that theme is not called “Welcome Back Kotter.”) The original version of “The Rockford Files” sounds like nothing else out there.
Not familiar with a song I’ve mentioned?
Click above to hear samples.
There have been a million re-recordings of the Rockford theme. (I’m not exaggerating. Much.) If you don’t believe me go here.There are a lot of listings for “The Rockford Files” and for every one there are at least three “This is not the original!” reviews. (Because apparently one person pointing out the obvious is not enough.) And it’s true. None of those are the original version released on LP and 45 (which, incidentally, was not an exact match for the version used in the show, either).
It is that MGM single with the blue and tan label that I remember (another one courtesy of my brother, as was “Welcome Back”). And, apparently, you simply can’t get it any more. Lucky for me, I was able to find an MP3 of that actual release somewhere along the line. (I think it was on Have A Nice Decade, now seemingly out of print.) I actually remember the theme song much better than the show, even though it was one my parents watched regularly.
There have been a lot of good TV theme songs over the years. “Barney Miller,” “Night Court” and “Cheers” to name just a few. And I actually have a lot of them. Rockford wins hands down, and again, I think it all goes back to the sound of the synth. Funny how something so simple can put such a stamp on something. (It’s also how I can tell that the versions available are not the original. It has a certain identifiable sound and timbre.)
Yeah, “Barney Miller” had that great bass line, (so did “Night Court,” albeit in a different way) and “Welcome Back” had that kid riding away on his unicycle (hmm… maybe I’m mixing my mediums now), but I still say Rockford wins.
And that’s all I have to say about that.
The show intro…