The Evolution Of ‘Where Everybody Knows Your Name’: The Theme From “Cheers”.

I’m a sucker for demos. I like to hear a great song come together. Who the Hell wants to hear dozens of static filled demo recordings and then sit through 58 takes of ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’? Me. That’s who.

I love that stuff and today we’re gonna take a look at a song which is even better than ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’, The Theme From “Cheers”. Or as it was originally titled, ‘My Kind Of People’. But let’s go back to before even then.

Cheers Single

From Wikipedia…

By 1981, New York songwriter Gary Portnoy had already written songs for the likes of Air Supply (“I’ll Never Get Enough”) and Dolly Parton (“Say Goodnight”). One night in the summer of that same year, his friend Judy Hart happened to be seated next to a Broadway producer at dinner. Upon finding out that Hart was working for a music publisher, he asked her if she could recommend someone to compose the score for a new musical he was producing. On a whim, Hart, who had never written a song, approached Portnoy, who had never written for the theater and, together, they set out to compose the words and music for the musical named Preppies.

In the spring of 1982, Judy (now using her full married name) Hart Angelo sent a tape of Preppies’ opening number, “People Like Us”, to a friend in California, who then passed it on to television producers Glen and Les Charles. Upon hearing it they each felt that, with a lyric re-write, “People Like Us” would be the perfect theme song for their upcoming NBC sitcom Cheers. Upon learning that “People Like Us” was legally bound to the musical Preppies, the Charles Brothers asked Portnoy and Hart Angelo to take a shot at composing a theme specifically for Cheers. The song that resulted, “My Kind of People”, was somewhat of a reworked version of “People Like Us”. It was subsequently rejected.

Portnoy and Hart Angelo then wrote and submitted two more potential themes for Cheers. One of them, entitled “Another Day” contained a lyric line “There are times when it’s fun to take the long way home” that greatly appealed to the Charles brothers. But, overall, the song missed the mark and was passed on. The fourth song began with a catchy intro followed by simple, alternating chords on a piano. The opening verse lines, both musically and lyrically, were something of a lament. The verse then transitioned into a soaring refrain that seemed to capture the essence of why people might want to go to a place like “Cheers” — a place “Where Everybody Knows Your Name”. The two songwriters recorded a simple piano/voice demo of the new song for the Cheers producers. Upon hearing it, the Charles Brothers gave it their stamp of approval and, once Portnoy and Hart Angelo had complied with a request for a few lyric changes intended to broaden the song’s appeal to a more general audience, “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” was officially designated the “Theme From Cheers”. The original verse:

‘Singing the blues when the Red Sox lose,
it’s a crisis in your life.
On the run ’cause all your girlfriends
wanna be your wife.
And the laundry ticket’s in the wash.’

Was changed to:

‘Making your way in the world today
takes everything you’ve got.
Taking a break from all your worries
sure would help a lot.
Wouldn’t you like to get away?’

After several months of mulling over possible outside singers, the producers eventually asked Gary Portnoy to record the vocal for the opening credits of their new series. (The chorus of the song is six of Portnoy’s vocals that he recorded one on top of the other to create the “group sound” of the hook.) It was also decided to maintain the simple feel of the New York demo in the TV version by keeping the number of instruments to a minimum. The final Cheers Theme was recorded on August 13, 1982 at Paramount Pictures in Los Angeles, California.

I’d read that Wikipedia article before and I’d always wanted to hear the original songs and demos but could never find them. YouTube’s a great thing. Here’s the evolution of the song…

Cheers Opener

You May Also Be Interested In…
* The Exact Opposite Of Happy Days
* Ralph Macchio: “Wax On, Fuck Off.”

Published in: on September 27, 2015 at 16:33  Leave a Comment  
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Where Is Rik Mayall? …Oh Wait, There He Is!

Ah, I’m so pleased to see his insane face again!

Today, Mr. Adrian Edmondson put this photo up on his Twitter feed with the caption:
“Writing with this complete bastard today…”

I know I am!
Click HERE to see just how excited I actually am!

(From Marion McMullen of The Coventry Telegraph of all people and places)…

THE boys from Bottom are back in a new show which sees Rik Mayall and Ade Edmondson revive their cult characters Richie Rich and Eddie Hitler.
(Actually, it’s Richard Richard and Edward Elizabeth Hitler. Get it right Marion McMullen of The Coventry Telegraph!).

The pair have swapped their filthy flat for the sandy shores of a tropical island in the six-part series.

Ade said: “It’s been a while since I last worked with that complete b****** Rik Mayall and I’m very much looking forward to bashing him about the head with various blunt objects. It’s the only language he understands.”

The show, called Hooligans Island, will be on BBC2 next year.

It is one of a series of new comedy commissions announced at the Edinburgh International Television Festival, including David Mitchell and Robert Webb in Our Men.

The show, billed as a comedy drama, stars Mitchell as the British ambassador in the fictional country of Tazbekistan and Webb as a devious diplomat.

Another show sees Father Ted writer Graham Linehan team up with Steve Delaney to bring the comic’s creation Count Arthur Strong to television.

The character, a pompous self-styled showbusiness legend, will feature in six half-hour episodes.

Executive producer Gregor Sharp said: “We are absolutely delighted to see Graham and Steve join the immensely talented group of writers and comedians making brilliant shows across the BBC channels.”

“The Tannery” By Iain Gardner.

“The Tannery” is a short 2D animation film by Edinburgh animation artist Iain Gardner. I caught it on TV by sheer chance a few months ago and it impressed me so much that I was kicking myself for days later because I didn’t record it.

At under 10 minutes, “The Tannery” is a really short film and because it aired at 3am, I wrote it off as one of those amazing little films that you only manage to see once and then never again.

…Ah, but Channel 4
Good old Channel 4 aired the film once again and although it still had the same graveyard slot, I stayed up and enjoyed it all over again. I even managed to record it and I’ve been playing it for anyone who comes to visit me.

It’s hard to explain the film’s simple plot without completely ruining it for you but stick with me, we’ll get there.

“The Tannery” is the story of a young fox in the snow who one day gets his brains blown out by a huntsman and instead of being no more, the fox becomes a spirit and continues on his merry way through the afterlife.

The fox makes pals with the spirit of a wee bunny rabbit and together, they run around in the snow having a great time and occasionally watching the spirits of other animals sailing up into the stars…

…Well, that’s as much as I can really tell you but the ending of the film could give the ending of “The Sopranos” a run for its money!

Just like its IMDB page the trailer for “The Tannery” gives nothing away.

Like I said, I want to tell everyone I know about “The Tannery” but it’s a tricky thing to do without completely spoiling the film so I thought I’d do the next best thing.

I tracked down Iain Gardner who made the film and I asked him a few questions and wouldn’t ya know it, he actually answered them!

Q. Hello Iain! You’re from Edinburgh and I’m from Glasgow. Shouldn’t we be fighting each other in some bar somewhere?

A. Probably best we take it outside.

Q. I was lucky enough to have caught your short animation film “The Tannery” not once but twice in the wee hours on Channel 4. I was very impressed. How long did it take to put together?

A. Uuuuuurgh. Months. 6 months of protracted development, and then 8-9 months in production. Actually, I’m foggy on how many months it took to actually make, as I became the walking dead myself in the process.

Q. When and how did you come up with the idea for “The Tannery”?

A.  Drink. You get asked this question at Festivals, and I’m keen to build on my mythology that a bottle of wine started it, but I was drunk when I got thinking that there might be wee sad souls yearning for the furs that selfish arrogant vain humans wear. It was years ago – the film started as ‘The Fox Who Lost It’s Fur’ and was a much bigger, more epic, story but the practicalities of budget and time meant that the tone of my idea had to come across in a much simpler and shorter narrative – still, I constructed it in such a way that I may still be able to pick up the story where ‘The Tannery’ left off. Still can’t judge from audience reaction whether it’s worth mining that seam.

Q. The film manages to be very charming, sinister, lovely and bleak all at once. Did you set out to shock? 

A. I certainly didn’t set out to shock, and fought hard not to do so – there were many script advisors attached to the film, and their main proclivity seemed to be gore and pain. No, I wanted to break people’s hearts! That was the main experiential emotion that I wanted to channel via animation. I’ve nothing against comedy in Animation, but the plasticity of the medium manages to trigger that reflex within the diaphragm that makes us laugh. Do you remember Bambi? Whether you love it or hate it, and my film similarly has its detractors, but that is animation at its most wonderful, when it engages your emotions and makes you cry. I’ve had a few reports of tears in audiences. Can’t please all the people all of the time, but mission accomplished.

Q. The film certainly broke my heart and it’s refreshing to see a 2D animation film these days. How many artists worked on the film?

A. I’d like to say one, because essentially it was a one man band. However, the wonderfully talented animator and illustrator Rachel Everitt assisted me throughout with rendering the artwork (not in the computer rendering sense, but in brandishing pencils and creating soft lines and shades, much as The Snowman was created), and a team of enthusiasts joined near the end to help animate the Hunter in his lodge (thank you Ulrike Keil), and additional support was volunteered from Andy Macpherson, Owen Rixon, Neil McDonald and David Bell. Not to mention the CGI team at world class Axis Animation, headed by Wiek Luijken with Drew Robertson, Stu Shapiro, Richard Clay and Dana Dorian. So with reference to the actual frames, I’d possibly claim 75% blood from my fingertips, and the rest shared with those 11 talented individuals – there’s also the musical talent led by composer Mick Cooke, and volunteers who helped scan the drawings into the computer.

Q. How big a part did contemporary technology play in the making of the film?

A. There was the CGI work done at Axis for a few moving backgrounds, and all the shots were composited in After Effects, with artwork scanned into Photoshop. But the performances were hand drawn, paper and pencil!

Q. I’m starting to find big glossy Hollywood 3D animation productions almost…too glossy and perfect. What are your thoughts?

A. Come and see the McLaren Animation at the Edinburgh Film Festival in June. You’ll enjoy that. And the International Animation programme. June 20th-1stJuly. Programme announced on the 30th May.

But yes, there does need to be more variety in animated features, but sadly it’s dictated by box office. Rent ‘The Illusionist’ by Sylvain Chomet. Watch ‘101 Dalmatians’ again.

Q. I write and illustrate a comic strip using a black biro pen and people continually tell me to employ software for a helping hand so that I can churn it all out quicker.I feel that the strip would loose any charm it may have if I did this. Do you have any advice?

A. Follow your gut. Who are these people?

Q. EXACTLY! What kind of things influence your work?

A. Time and money!

And alcohol.

I love Eastern European Animation – the fine art created by certain film makers within a certain period of time, not the ‘cooing’ mole we saw on telly in the seventies. Frederic Bac from Canada is an obvious inspiration to me (if you know his work). And I love Jiri Trnka, both as Film maker and Illustrator – it’s his centenary April 2012, check your local cinema (GFT?) and see if you can catch his stop motion films.

2014 will be Norman McLaren’s Centenary, he’s an inspiration  – look out for events celebrating that also!

Q. “The Tannery” is currently going around the World film circuit. Have you had any feedback from insomniacs like me who caught your film on Channel 4 in the wee wee hours ?

A. Well, here are a few of my favourite anonymous tweets;

it was like the snowman only more violent!’

It’s heartbreaking.’

Inadertantly (sic) just watched The Tannery.. Quite possibly one of the saddest pieces of animation I’ve seen ☹ JESH… !’

freakin the f**k out watchin this ‘the tannery’ fox movie! Incredible

felt like I’d been on an LSD sesh

Just watched a sick animation called the tannery. Made me think. Now…bed.’

These reactions probably say more about insomniac tweeters than the film though.

Q. Do you happen to know if Channel 4 has any plans to run the film for a third time?

A. Well, it’s been on four times, and if it’s on again I’ll need to check the broadcast agreement in place for the film! I’d love it to be aired when people are awake next time. It’s been sold to SBS Australia, and I’m hoping more territories will follow suit. Silent film is perfect for international audiences.


Many thanks go to Iain for his talents and for taking the time to answer my questions.
Look out for “The Tannery”.

Here are some links:
“The Tannery” Facebook Page.
Iain Gardner’s Website.
Iain Gardner’s Twitter Feed.

You May Also Be Interested In…
Boris Karloff: “Tales Of The Frightened”.
* 6 Films To Keep You Awake.
* Thundercats & Jessica Rabbit’s Dress.
* Al Cook’s “Necropolis”.

BBC TV: Dr. Terror’s Vault Of Horror.

I had trouble even remembering his name for a while.
It was so long ago…

I would have been 8 or 9…or maybe even 10. I don’t know but it would have been the 1990’s and almost midnight and I would be awake and glued to the my wee flickery TV with fuzzy reception.
Dr. Terror would appear on the screen to introduce the scary horror film of the evening.

Dr. Terror. That was his name. He was a cartoonishly (That’s a word!) sinister horror host for the BBC. An elegantly scary class act!

Do you remember this guy?

Those were the days.
Back then, there were fields as FAR AS THE EYE COULD SEE…
10 pence. That was a lot of money then y’know!

I remember it all and in those days the BBC would run horror double bills at midnight on Fridays and it really was an education.

The good old Doctor introduced me to the likes of “Child’s Play” (1988), “The People Under The Stairs” (1991), “Sometimes They Come Back” (1991) and obscurities like “The Baby” (1973), “VAMP” (1986) and “House” (1986).

I also grew up watching Hammer Horror flicks and Dr. Terror’s Vault Of Horror re-ran a lot of them.
I have a particularly good memory of being dog tired in my dressing gown, keeping myself awake so I could watch “Scars Of Dracula” (1970) at 2am.

Things haven’t changed much since that’s exactly what I was doing at 2am only two nights ago and I’m 30 years old now!

Anyway, it really was a great time to be young and impressionable and luckily for you and me, a few videos of Dr. Terror exist and here they are:

Extraordinary Animals In The Womb.

These amazingly detailed embryonic pictures come from a National Geographic film called “Extraordinary Animals In The Womb” and they show elephants, dolphins, cats, dogs, penguins and a shark.
I’ve been staring at them for an hour so far.

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