Lately I’ve been collecting theme music from the golden age of American television – the era when it was a young medium that opened the door to all forms of creators. Writers, film technicians, producers, actors, designers and composers poured into television from stage, film and radio. They gave it all the quality they had in them.
Instead of fear of something new or the need to change, the creators of the era, which lasted through the 1970s, jumped into the opportunity. They worked on teams that most certainly had their beefs. But consternation took a back seat to the purpose of creation, which alone made the endeavor important. And exciting.
The music themes created for programs like “Dr. Kildare”, “Peter Gunn”, “Ben Casey”, “Bonanza”, “Ironside” or “Room 222” – to name a few – are heralds. However conveyed or paced or styled, the music makes you feel something important is ahead: a good story, relevant to all, with profound insights, delivered with depth by actors who have a sense of purpose beyond calling attention to themselves. It is crucial to recognize the historical and cultural context of this programming, including the glaring flaws. Equally critical, though, is to observe how the music attains common ground. At their essence, the music themes aspire and thus inspire. When you hear them today, what washes over you is a renewed sense of anticipation for what can be.
How terrific to know that every single one of us has this capacity, whatever our work, to do something important. How lucky we are that artists set the example of how to put our passion to work and to approach our days with the thrill of doing something important for others as well as ourselves. How cool to anticipate the good that is ahead for us.