Hi there – Jeff Scott here. There are themes to television shows that I
grew up watching in the ’60s that are still rattling around in my head
as if I heard them just yesterday. For instance:
There’s a holdup in the Bronx, Brooklyn’s broken out in fights,
There’s a traffic jam in Harlem that’s backed up to Jackson Heights,
There’s a scout troop short a child, Khrushchev’s due in Idlewild,
Car 54 Where Are You?
I will spare you the lyrics to The Patty Duke Show, Branded, The Addams Family and Green Acres, but they are all still in my brain too. Even instrumental intros like the ones for Combat, The Rifleman, Bonanza and Mission Impossible
still resonate loud and clear. Television people put a lot more
emphasis on opening and closing theme songs back then. Consider that
today, the enduring theme of 24 is five pulsing beats, Law & Order is two clanging beats, and Lost
just one lonely beat.
Which brings us to TWIB. Despite the fact that
the show has undergone myriad changes throughout the years, both the
opening and closing music are pretty much exactly as you first heard
them in June of 1977. They are iconic — as much a part of our culture
as the (instrumental) opening music to Monday Night Football and the old Wide World of Sports
theme. You simply can’t imagine TWIB without the “Da Da” at the
beginning and the “Dum De De Dum” at the end. The open theme —
originally called “Jet Set” — was written by Mike Vickers sometime in
the early ’70s and was put on vinyl for use through Associated
Production Music (APM). The vinyl gave it that warm ’70s tone.
Following some slight variations throughout the years, MLB Productions
music maven, Jam Master Jon Nanberg, contacted a London based composer
named Bill Bayliss to do a remix of the early ’70s version in 2003. He
added a few modern components but stayed true to what made the original
sound so great. His version is the one you hear leading off our show
today. By the way, Mike Piazza does an awesome a cappella rendition of
it that we’ve featured in the show a number of times.
The closing theme
– also owned by APM – was written in 1974 by John Scott (no relation)
and was entitled “Gathering Crowds.” This inspiring string composition
became so identifiable with TWIB that when APM repackaged the song in a
1994 compilation they renamed it “Major League Baseball (America).” We
have heard from many folks who have recorded this song off the air and
used it in their weddings. I presume they use it after the ceremony
when everyone practically runs back down the aisle and not for the
entrance, when the bridal party has to do that “one step — two step”
shuffle while trying desperately not to move too fast.
I love the
closing theme of TWIB and have made it my goal in life to ensure that
the final note always hits precisely when the MLB logo ends. Obviously
it doesn’t take much to make me happy. Apparently Bill Simmons – aka
“The Sports Guy” of ESPN.com fame, agrees. He once made a list of the
six top non-movie sports themes from his childhood that still get him
fired up and he rated the TWIB closing theme song as his number one
favorite of all time. And Mark Bechtel, in his July 6, 2005 Daily Blog
for SI.com, rated the TWIB closing music the greatest sports theme song
of all time. Said Mark, “There was no way you could listen to that
music… and not get fired up for your afternoon Wiffle Ball game or
Little League practice.” That’s TWIB — all access, motivational music.
If you too have an affinity for the TWIB music and have been likewise
inspired by it, let us know by sending a TWIB note of your own to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks.
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