Nostalgia can be a powerful force. We are always looking for momentos of our past, ways to see where we have been so that we can see how well we have done, or how we have forgotten what was once important. Ironically, one of those ways in which we make the most important decisions is based on the silliest of all things: TV Theme songs.
The theme of most TV shows is considered the least important part of the show; after all, once you decide on it, produce a short version for the beginning credits and an instrumental version for the end credits, as well as a long version for possible radio play, and a quick instrumental-only version for segues, the theme no longer matters. Worse, few shows are popular based solely on the theme; we watch for the characters, the actors, or even because we relate to the show.
The theme just doesn’t matter. Maybe.
However, it is a rare iPod that doesn’t have at least some TV themes. There are some themes that resonate (“Moving On Up”, from “The Jeffersons”), is just fun and short (“Gilligan’s Island), or are great songs on their own rights (“Dance Around The Clock” from “Happy Days”, or “Love and Marriage” from “Married…with children”). The easiest way you can tell what shows that a person loved as a kid is what themes are on his iPod; people tend to track down those themes, especially when the theme is part of how we define ourselves or how fun the song is.
Part of the reason that we love TV Theme songs is more than just because they remind of us of our youth; after all, movie also have themes, but few of them end up on iPods, even when the movie is incredibly popular and the music has won numerous awards. It’s because we can sing along with them; the popularity of karaoke has little to do with the music itself and a lot to do with the words, words that can be memorized and thrown back out there with our own special twist.
The other part is that signposts are important. You can look at a signpost and know where you are, as well as where you have been, and where you are going. In a weird way, TV themes are signposts in our culture; sight may be are most important sense when it comes to getting around in the physical world, but sound is how we get around the mental one. A melody can bring back a memory, with all of the force of that memory. As the shows that we are interested in at a time change, the melodies of the songs associated with the shows can take us back to those times. The older we are, the more we feel the tug of memory, and so we surround ourselves with music that reminds of us the better times (or, in the case of those that collect themes from bygone eras, what we picture as better times).
TV themes will always be important trivia; they don’t matter to the show itself, and their only significance is in how they define the moment. But that is enough it seems; sometimes the wisp of memory makes something far stronger than would seem otherwise…
P.S. Here are some popular TV themes available for free download.
P.P.S. Find here how to add a TV theme to your mobile phone and how to select the best audio format.