New York has been kicking my behind lately. The weather has been oppressive, my therapist is on vacation, freelance work has been slow this summer and I've come to accept I won't be representing the United States in a single event during the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
So, a few days ago, while I was sitting on my couch, flipping between five channels of NBC's Olympic coverage, it's not surprising that I was daydreaming about my upcoming vacation. Especially since it's the only vacation I have scheduled this calendar year.
In that moment, when I should have been enjoying some much-needed, air-conditioned me-time, I was instead reviewing my contact list of potential employers, and digging through multiple drafts of the sitcom I'm attempting to develop. Needless to say, I was in desperate need of some serious mental relief and mood lightening. And nothing offers that like music. And, of all the songs I've ever heard in my 36 years on this earth, one emerged. So I sang the following lyrics to myself:
Making your way in the world today/ takes every thing you've got./
Taking a break from all your worries/ sure would help a lot./
Wouldn't you like to get away?/ Sometimes you want to go/
where everybody knows your name/ and they're always glad you came./
I'll stop there, for two reasons: First, I have a word count. Secondly, and more importantly, if you were anywhere near a television during the '80s, you already know the rest. And, you're likely humming it right now, if not singing aloud.
As a child, I didn't really watch Cheers. I didn't even reach drinking age until four years after its final episode aired. But that's not the point. The point is that a great television theme song has the power to entertain, inform, and ultimately, inspire.
The great television theme songs can be broken down into three simple categories.
First, there's the feel-good composition, with lyrics written for the show. Or, with lyrics so perfectly applicable it seems as though they were. Either way they speak to the story, the journey of the characters, and the philosophy of the program, such as Golden Girls, Family Ties, Greatest American Hero and A Different World.
Secondly, there are the theme songs that speak only to and about the show itself. Surely, you remember, Charles in Charge, Green Acres, Welcome Back, Kotter, the Brady Bunch and The Love Boat. By listening to the theme you know what the show is and what it will be. There's no guesswork required and no room for interpretation.
Lastly, there are the unforgettable, powerhouse instrumentals like Sanford & Son, Miami Vice, Magnum, p.i. and Knight Rider. Their cool and sexy sounds still transform you into Bobby McFerrin every time you hear them. As you imagine yourself calling Lamont a big dummy, riding with Tubbs, arguing with Higgins, or talking to your car through your Swatch watch.
For me, the first category rises head and shoulders above the rest. While the others are most certainly memorable and spark up the joyful feelings that accompany nostalgia, the first category can still be successfully applied to the ups and downs of your everyday life. They put a smile on your face and a little pep in your step.
Oh you don't believe me? What do you need when things are more difficult than you care for them to be? When nothing seems to be going your way? Well, I say, it's time for a chat about the Facts of Life.
You take the good./ You take the bad./
You take them both./And there you have/
the facts of life./The facts of life./
That'll surely put things back in perspective and give you that boost you need to keep on keeping on. Or, maybe you're like me, and millions of other Americans out there. Your family is good. You're getting by as best you can. But you need to spend more time focusing on the blessings you do have as your pursue new opportunities, with no guarantees of success.
If that's the case, you could use a little reminder about what Good Times are really made of.
Good times./Anytime you meet a payment./
Good times./Anytime you need a friend./
Good times anytime you're out from under./
Not getting hassled./ Not getting hustled./
Or maybe you feel a little lost. You don't know what you're doing, or why you're doing it. It sounds like it's time for you to connect with a few trusted Friends.
So no one told you life was going to be this way./
Your job's a joke. You're broke. Your love life's D.O.A./
It's like you're always stuck in second gear./
When it hasn't been your day your week, your month, or even your year./
I'll be there for you./
Quite a helpful reminder, considering they're probably facing similar challenges. So, surely they'll understand yours. You can find strength and understanding in one another.
The great television theme songs remind us of just what's important in our lives and why. They offer us melodic, hopeful tales of humor and triumph with a practical wisdom capable of getting us through just about anything, as long as we remember, it takes Diff'rent Strokes, to move the world.
So, 'Thank You' television theme songs for helping us all make it, One Day at a Time ... One day at a time.