Sammy Davis Jr. added lyrics to so many instrumental TV theme songs
Now you can sing along to 'Kojak' on MeTV.
Top image: The Everett Collection
When The Andy Griffith Show or Star Trek begins on MeTV, do you sing along to the theme songs?
"What a great place to rest your bones / And mighty fine for skippin' stones…" or "Straaange love, a star woman teeeeaches!"
Don't be ashamed if you don't know the words. Those classic pieces of television music did not feature lyrics when they ran on the air. They were instrumentals (with a little whistling, of course). However, lyrical versions of those iconic TV themes exist. In fact, there are a bunch of memorable instrumental themes songs that had secret lyrics, from I Love Lucy to Bonanza.
Yet, no performer was more dedicated to injecting words into instrumental themes than Sammy Davis, Jr. In 1976, the Rat Packer released a platter of easy-listening disco called The Song and Dance Man. The entire A-Side was devoted to TV theme songs, and some of them might come as a surprise to fans of 1970s television. Let's take a listen.
Track 1: "Baretta's Theme"
Fans of the show will remember these lyrics. However, when the Robert Blake detective series kicked off its first season, the opening theme, written by Dave Grusin and Morgan Ames, was an instrumental. The reason was money. Sammy had recorded "Keep Your Eye on the Sparrow," but the suits didn't want to cough up the cash for his services until they knew the show was a hit. However, once Baretta proved its staying power, the vocal version was installed and became one of Sammy's greatest hits. It even went to No. 1 in the Netherlands.
Track 3: "We'll Make It This Time (Theme From 'Kojak')"
Here is where we get into more unfamiliar territory. Sammy transforms the opening to the Telly show into a funkified love song. He doesn't even mention lollipops.
Track 4: "Mary Hartman"
Norman Lear's soap opera spoof Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman was far ahead of its time. The subtle comedy began as a typical daytime soap would, with sweeping, melodramatic strings. Leave it to Mister Show Business to transform that into a three-minute country-funk workout.
Track 5: "You Can Count on Me (Theme From 'Hawaii 5-0')"
There seemingly wasn't a cop show that failed to stir romance in Sammy's heart. With its rollicking drums and surf guitar licks, the original is a stone-cold classic. (Don Ho had earlier slowed down the tune for his similarly titled, "You Can Come with Me.") We bet when you first heard it, the line "Don't call me if you just wanna play" did not pop in your head. That's what separates us from Sammy.