The WKRP in Cincinnati theme song is one of the greatest TV anthems from an era of great TV anthems.
But, man, this thing is a landmine!
See, the song was designed from the ground up to make you think about the past — your own past — and that effect has only deepened with the passing years.
Today … well, the WKRP in Cincinnati theme song is bound to make you downright homesick.
Here are five ways … and remember — I warned you!
The Car Radio
Even back in the day, when WKRP was first-run, the very beginning of the opener had to sort of make you nostalgic.
I mean, who couldn’t relate to searching around for something on the radio, finding crap, and then finally stumbling onto a clear, strong signal blasting out some solid tunes.
Oh, man … the tears well up as soon as that opening frame appears.
How long has it been since you’ve even thought about a hand-cranked radio knob, moving a physical plastic indicator across the face of the transistor to tell you the frequency?
Unless you’re a classic car fanatic or have been watching WKRP reruns on the regular, probably more years than you care to remember.
But I guarantee the memories will flood back with this one …
You, riding in the back seat of Mom and Dad’s car, head poked forward between the two of them sitting on that long front bench seat.
The dusty-oily smell that cars always had in the 1970s, no matter how old or new they were.
The exhaust fumes that wafted into your back seat perch.
Bouncing around the voluminous car cabin like a ping pong ball … look, Ma — no seat belt!
And great old music from scratchy speakers that still sounded like heaven to you.
OK, so technically the WKRP in Cincinnati theme song is not “The Hustle,” and it doesn’t seem to be really based directly on the disco classic, either.
But as soon as the driver in the WKRP opener finds his station, you get the first licks of synthesized disco drums and keyboards.
And then all the great emotion that came with dramatic 70s elevator music, thanks to composer Tom Wells.
Why, take away the words, and you can almost see the home movies on 8 mm, and taste the home-baked cookies.
Here — see what I mean …
The guy who sang the WKRP in Cincinnati them song was named Steve Carlisle.
I don’t really know much about him other than this particular vocals credit, and that he seemed to be buddies with series creator Hugh Wilson.
But what I can tell you is that dude had the perfect voice for the job … both the job of conveying the show’s premise and the job of making you feel homesick.
I mean, Carlisle sounded like a high school friend you hadn’t seen in 20 years, and that you ran into at a work convention somewhere. The sort of high school friend who was really happy to see you, and to spend a few hours talking through old times over coffee or a dinner table.
It’s the same feeling that Don McLean gives you in “American Pie.”
It’s the same feeling that Dan Fogelberg gives you in “Same Old Lang Syne.”
And it’s the same feeling Facebook gave you when you stumbled on it and found that picture of Suzie Parrish that took you back, in an instant.
The lyrics of this thing were just built for nostalgia.
I mean, here you have a dude (Hugh Wilson?) singing to someone — a former love, as I imagine it.
“Baby,” he calls her.
He’s wondering if she ever thinks of him, because he sure as shootin’ thinks about her.
Maybe regrets some of the choices he made … chasing the buck, putting his career before everything, going wherever he needed to go to take the next step forward.
But he’s done with all that jive now, cat, and he’s letting her — and us — know about it.
You know, just in case she ever hears his song. Or thinks about him. Or tries to look him up.
Maybe they were never meant to be, but … just in case, if she’s ever feeling homesick in that way that has more to do with a person or a feeling than an actual place …
Well, she knows now that she can find him in Cincinnati.
The Show … Memories, Man!
And then, of course, the WKRP in Cincinnati theme song leads you into all sorts of memories from the show itself.
Just a couple of licks will have you thinking about Dr. Johnny Fever and Venus Flytrap and Les Nessman on the scene and Loni Anderson.
And even Andy Travis, who you shouldn’t confuse with Randy Travis.
And, of course Mr. Carlson, aka Gordon Jump, aka The Maytag Man.
Thoughts of Mr. Carlson inevitably lead to thoughts of flying turkeys, and then you’re really set to head down the rabbit hole of sitcom memories.
That’s a surefire recipe for homesickness, because you grew up watching those funny shows right there in the warm lap of you parents’ house, and — just sometimes — you’d give anything to go back, even if only for a few minutes.
Oh, the humanity!
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End Date: Friday 03/19/2021 00:00:48 EDT
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