The Six Saddest TV Theme Songs of the 70s - Believer Magazine
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The Six Saddest TV Theme Songs of the 70s

The Six Saddest TV Theme Songs of the 70s

Kailyn McCord
13 Snaps

Television theme songs are usually upbeat, often to the point of nauseous sweetness, but as our research indicates, in the 1970s, television theme songs took a uniquely depressing and melancholic turn. The six saddest are featured below. (Cheers, which premiered in 1982, is included on this list as a representative from “the long 70s.”) Today, TV theme songs are generally more uplifting.

I. Taxi (1978–83)

* THEME-SONG TITLE: “Angela”

* WRITTEN BY: Bob James

* HOW SAD: quite sad

* THEMES: lonely taxi, bridge

* REPRESENTATIVE LYRICS: The song is an instrumental.

* NOTA BENE Tony Danza drove the taxi in the opening-credits sequence.

II. MASH (1972–83)

* THEME-SONG TITLE: “Suicide Is Painless”

* WRITTEN BY: Johnny Mandel (music) and Mike Altman (lyrics)

* HOW SAD: very sad

* THEMES: suicide, melancholy, hopelessness, depression

*REPRESENTATIVE LYRICS: “Suicide is painless / It brings on many changes / and I can take or leave it if I please.”

III. Cheers (1982–93)

* THEME-SONG TITLE: “Where Everybody Knows Your Name”

* WRITTEN BY: Judy Hart Angelo and Gary Portnoy

* HOW SAD: incredibly sad

* THEMES: alcoholism, life disasters, death, divorce

* REPRESENTATIVE LYRICS: “Roll out of bed, Mr. Coffee’s dead; / The morning’s looking bright; / And your shrink ran off to Europe, / And didn’t even write; / And your husband wants to be a girl; / Be glad there’s one place in the world / Where everybody knows your name”

IV. The Incredible Hulk (1978–82)

* THEME-SONG TITLE: “The Lonely Man”

* WRITTEN BY: Joe Harnell

* HOW SAD: the saddest

* REPRESENTATIVE LYRICS: None. Only very sad piano.

* NOTA BENE: A home video piano performance of this song is the first Google video search result for saddest television theme song

V. All In The Family (1971–79)

* THEME-SONG TITLE: “Those Were the Days”

* WRITTEN BY: Lee Adams (lyrics) and Charles Strouse (music)

* HOW SAD: pretty sad

* THEMES: nostalgia, financial worries, gender, the ’60s.

* REPRESENTATIVE LYRICS: “Didn’t need no welfare state. Everybody pulled his weight. / Gee, our old LaSalle ran great. Those were the days. / And you know who you were then, girls were girls and men were men. / Mister, we could use a man like Herbert Hoover again.”

* NOTA BENE: Archie and Edith sang the song live on camera at the beginning of every episode, which resulted in many different lyrical permutations.

VI. Welcome Back, Kotter (1975–79)

* THEME-SONG TITLE: “Welcome Back”

* WRITTEN AND PERFORMED BY: John Sebastian

* REPRESENTATIVE LYRICS: “Welcome back, / Your dreams were your ticket out. / Welcome back, / To that same old place that you laughed about.”

* NOTA BENE: The song was originally supposed to be called “Kotter,” but was changed due to the lack of words that rhyme with “Kotter.”

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