Monday, October 12, 2015

"Where Everybody Knows Your Name (The Theme from 'Cheers')" by Gary Portnoy

Song#:  1429
Date:  04/30/1983
Debut:  89
Peak:  83
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Pop, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  Singer/songwriter Portnoy was having some good success in the late 70s/early 80s. A few tunes he co-wrote wound up getting recorded by artists like Mac Davis, Glen Campbell, Dolly Parton, and Air Supply. It led to him recording his own solo album in 1980, but it didn't get anywhere. After a chance encounter with a Broadway producer, Portnoy and his writing partner at the time, Judy Hart Angelo, found themselves writing a score for a show titled "Preppies." The opening number of the show, "People Like Us," found its way to TV producers Glen and Les Charles. They thought it would be a perfect theme song for their new show called "Cheers." Unfortunately, due to the song being in "Preppies," it legally could not be used. The Charles' asked the songwriters to provide a new song. After a few rejected attempts, they finally hit the mark with "Where Everybody Knows Your Name." "Cheers" began its run in 1982, but it was not a success and was almost cancelled. However, the theme song became quite popular and soon Portnoy was in the studio recording a full-length version of the tune for single release. Although it did not become a major chart hit (a month at Pop, #28 AC), the theme has become one of the most recognizable in TV history. It topped a 2011 poll in "Rolling Stone" magazine as TV's best theme song. "TV Guide" also put it at the top of their 2013 list of best TV themes. The song would earn Portnoy and Hart Angelo an Emmy nod as well.

ReduxReview:  I'm not sure what possessed me to watch "Cheers," but I saw it right from the start and loved it. The ratings were dismal its first season, but it must have been fated to be a hit because it was spared from the ax. I think this theme song had a lot to do with it. It was a terrific tune that caught on and drew folks to the show. I bought this single when it first came out in 1982. At that time it was titled "Theme from the TV Show Cheers (Where Everybody Knows Your Name." It didn't get anywhere initially (like the show), but its popularity grew and it was reissued on another label and finally hit the chart. It is one of the best TV themes ever with a chorus that really hits a home run. As a full-length song, it's not nearly as well-written as something such as "Theme from 'Greatest American Hero' (Believe It or Not)." The added verses are a little goofy, which gives the tune a novelty feel. However, it stands up pretty well thanks to the brilliant chorus.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Following his most famous composition, Portnoy continued to write songs for artists and TV shows. He supplied two song for "Fame" (one of which got him another Emmy nod) and also co-wrote the themes to "Mr. Belvedere" (sung by Leon Redbone) and "Punky Brewster." But by 1985, Portnoy was done with the music biz and pretty much dropped out of sight. He would resurface years later and record a few albums beginning with 2003's "Keeper."


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