Where Everybody Knows Your Name
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|"Where Everybody Knows Your Name"|
1983 7" vinyl single (UK)
|Single by Gary Portnoy|
|from the album Music from Cheers|
Judy Hart Angelo
|Gary Portnoy singles chronology|
"Where Everybody Knows Your Name" is the theme song from the 1980s television sitcom Cheers. The song was written by Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo and performed by Gary Portnoy. Shortly after the premiere of Cheers, Portnoy went back into the studio to record a version of the song that made the US and British pop charts.
The full-length version was made available on Portnoy's album Keeper (2004). In January, 2013, Argentum Records released a five song EP to iTunes entitled Cheers: Music From The TV Series which also includes Portnoy's original demo version, as well as several earlier attempts by Portnoy and Angelo at composing the theme.
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.
The song received an Emmy Award nomination in 1983 for Outstanding Achievement in Music and Lyrics. In a 2011 Readers Poll in Rolling Stone magazine, "Where Everybody Knows Your Name" was voted the best television theme of all time. In 2013, the editors of TV Guide magazine named "Where Everybody Knows Your Name" the greatest TV Theme of all time.
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- In 1985, Crystal Gayle performed the Cheers Theme on the Emmy Awards.
- In October 1991, the cast of Cheers performed the theme as part of host Kirstie Alley's opening monologue on Saturday Night Live.
- During the 1991 "Flaming Moe's" episode of The Simpsons, a parody version of the song is sung.
- Gary Portnoy performed "Where Everybody Knows Your Name" on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno on May 20, 1993.
- In 1998, the Cheers Theme was featured in Will Ferrell's movie A Night at the Roxbury.
- Guest actress Amy Pietz performed the song on a season five episode "Head Over Heels" of the Fox Series Ally McBeal on February 4, 2002.
- On May 5, 2002 Martin Short, Will Farrell and Eric McCormack led the casts of NBC shows past and present in a sing-a-long of the Cheers theme on a program honoring the network's 75th Anniversary.
- The Everwood School choir performed "Where Everybody Knows Your Name" on the episode "The Miracle Of Everwood" of the WB series Everwood on April 21, 2003.
- Also in 2003, host Jack Black performed the song in a skit on Saturday Night Live.
- Colin Hay from the band Men at Work performed "Where Everybody Knows Your Name" on an episode of the NBC series Scrubs entitled "My Life in Four Cameras" on February 15, 2005.
- Carl the bartender played an unidentified recording of the Cheers theme at the end of the "Swarley" episode of How I Met Your Mother on November 6, 2006.
- Rascal Flatts performed the Cheers theme in concert at the Joel Coliseum in Winston-Salem, North Carolina on January 23, 2009.
- The Wildhearts performed the song in concert at O2 Academy Bristol on September 18, 2009
- British indie band The Wedding Present performed "Where Everybody Knows Your Name" in concert at Newcastle O2 Academy on December 4, 2010.
- Brad Paisley performed the song in concert at Gillette Stadium on August 21, 2010.
- On September 26, 2012 Jimmy Fallon and the cast of Guys With Kids performed "Where Everybody Knows Your Name" on NBC's Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.
- The Killers performed "Where Everybody Knows Your Name" in concert at the Agganis Arena in Boston on December 17, 2012.
- The song was featured in the fifth season of Adventure Time, in the episode titled "Simon & Marcy". It is sung by the character Simon Petrikov, and is the only licensed song to have been used in the show as of May 2013.
- American punk band Bigwig covered the song on their 1997 release UnMerry Melodies.
- The Ohio professional wrestling promotion Olde Wrestling posted a video on YouTube to promote their August 1, 2014 event Olde Wrestling Speakeasy Spectacular that spoofed the theme song and the opening credits sequence.
- "Gary Portnoy.com". Gary Portnoy.com. Retrieved 2013-08-10.
- "Primetime Emmy Awards: Date: September 18, 1983". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2013-08-10.
- Wagmeister, Elizabeth (April 16, 2013). "Supreme Themes: The 60 Greatest Title Songs of All Time". TV Guide via omg from Yahoo!.
- "Olde Wrestling's Speakeasy Spectacular!- Cheers Promotional Parody". YouTube. July 14, 2014. Retrieved July 13, 2015.
- Gary Portnoy's official website - includes a video history "Outside Cheers" that showcases the life of the song both on and off the series. There is also a detailed, biographical account of the story behind the Cheers theme (including audio recordings of rejected earlier efforts), the original demo recording, and full lyrics.