View My Stats

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Let's Hear The Brilliance.

I've mentioned before that I have worked with the writer Sheldon Keller.
Sheldon was on Sid Caesars writing staff in the 50's.
The show aired live on Saturday night, and on Monday morning preparations began for next Saturday's show.
And on those Monday mornings, the writers were supposed to be prepared.
To at least have ideas to be tossed out.
And a lot of the times, that's what they were.
Tossed out. By Sid.

According to Sheldon, those meetings would always begin with the writers being assembled in the writers room, Sid then making his grand entrance, sitting down in his throne-like chair, and announcing to one and all:
"Okay, let's hear the brilliance." "Come on, let's shovel out some of that brilliance".
And he expected to be accomodated.
And he usually was.

Recently, I wrote a couple of posts about Stephen Sondheim's new book of his lyrics, in which I patted myself on the back because he agreed with me about several things.
I also mentioned that I myself had dabbled in songwriting for the title songs of some of my TV shows.
This elicited a couple of e-mails, both making the same request, although differing in tone.
One went "I'm very curious about your songwriting. I think it would be nice if you printed the lyrics to the songs you wrote for your TV shows".
The other essentially went "Okay, smarty-pants, if you're such a hotshot, let's see the lyrics that you turned out."
It was a version of "Okay, let's hear the brilliance".

These are two approaches to the same reasonable request.
Quite a while back, I printed the lyrics to a song I wrote that led to winning a college competition when I was 19.
It was called "Horseradish", and can probably be easily found with some Googling.
But by the time I was writing title songs for my TV shows, I had matured.
I'd already reached the ripe old age of 31.

I am going to honor these two requests today and tomorrow by presenting two of my TV title songs for your possible enjoyment.
Presenting lyrics without the music is certainly not the easiest way to accomplish this.
Sondheim had the same problem in his book.
But I will try to be as descriptive as I can to recreate the sense of these songs.

The first is the title song from a pilot I did called "Lovebirds", which was basically an attempt to do an updated version of "The Honeymooners". It involved a blue-collar couple who lived downstairs from a white-collar couple.
It had the tone and the rhythms of "The Honeymooners", and its world famous hostility.
If you do your job conscientiously, you try to match the song to the titles, or the titles to the song.
They are not separate entities.
Unlike "Taxi", for instance, where you saw a taxicab driving over a bridge and heard a piccolo.
That certainly portended what you were going to see.

In the case of "Lovebirds", the song was written first, and the titles were created to match it.

The song has a leisurely up-tempo pace, and was sung by Bobby Van, who is probably best remembered as the host of "Make Me Laugh".
More's the pity. Bobby Van was a great song-and dance man
I thought it was good casting.
I'll try to present the song to approximate its rhythm as accurately as possible, and capitalize words that required particular stress and high notes.
Here goes:

They call us the lovebirds.....
No one's
More in love than us lovebirds......

When you
See us billin' and cooin'
You won't say "What are they doin'?"
You'll know because
We're the never lonely, the two and only
We'll always be lovebirds.....
We're gonna be lovebirds,
Forever more........

Para-keet, Ca-nary, or Dove,
You won't find no bird that's in love
Like us lovebirds, lovebirds,
We adore.......
EACH other we're the lovebirds,
Lovebirds, how sublime......
IT is 'cause we are lovebirds, lovebirds all the time....."

The titles that we matched to the song began with the blue collar couple's wedding, where the bride tossed the bouquet to her friend, the female in the white-collar couple.
Cut to: the White collar couples wedding,
Cut to; much bickering among the four of them, which served as a nice counterpoint for the song.

It wasn't until weeks later that I realized that I had miscast Bobby Van.
He brought a natural sophistication to the lyric.
A lyric that was very colloquial.
It should have been performed by someone who had a sense of relaxed funkiness that would have matched the lyric better.
Someone like Jack Sheldon.
You know, Jack Sheldon. the trumpet player-vocalist who has turned out some wonderful vocal CD's and is probably best remembered vocally as the voice of the Bill on Capitol Hill on "Schoolhouse Rock"
He would have been spectacular.
I don't know if that would have made the difference in the pilot being sold, but it certainly would have improved the packaging.
When I demonstrated the song to the powers that be, I subconsciously was doing Jack Sheldon.
I wish it had reached the conscious level.

Tomorrow, I'll offer up another song and shovel out more of that brilliance.



  1. Shouldn't there have been a lyric in there somewhere about how "We're lovebirds, we're bromidic 'cause we're lovebirds...?"



Blog Archive

About Me

Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."