''The Andy Griffith Show'' theme song's secret weapon was its simplicity

The tune we love to whistle.

The true beauty of The Andy Griffith Show lies in its simplicity. The quiet, simple town of Mayberry might not seem like much to some people, but for viewers, it was an ideal life. Some of the most beautiful things are important because they are simple; The Andy Griffith Show was a reminder to slow down, take it easy, and enjoy life before it passes you by.

Simple doesn't necessarily mean forgettable, either. One of the most iconic parts of The Andy Griffith Show was its theme song, a breezy, jaunty, whistling tune that many of us often hum to ourselves in idle moments. Its cheery and upbeat tempo was a distillation of the show itself, and it's one of the most memorable parts of the series. 

According to Earle Hagen, who composed the show's theme, the uncomplicated theme song was by design. A News-Star article quoted Hagen as having said, "It occurred to me that it should be something simple — simple enough to whistle."

The article revealed that Hagen himself and three other musicians were responsible for the actual performance of the theme song. Harvey Bullock, an Andy Griffith writer, complimented Hagen's work, stating, "Earl Hagen was a resident genius, and all could be left to him." He added, "We never had to suggest music."

While oftentimes a show's music is used as a tool to instill feelings in the audience like fear and sadness, Hagen was endlessly conscious of the fact that the music on The Andy Griffith Show didn't need to fight its way to prestige; rather, it was merely a quality piece that helped to contribute to the overall timeless and classic nature of The Andy Griffith Show.

Hagen said, "It was a highly professional, theatrically-motivated group of people who looked at the end result instead of everybody fighting for their individual terrain."

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BradBeall 4 months ago
My memories go back to around 1981. I was a roadie for the Grateful Dead, and after setting up for a show (perhaps in Pittsburgh - or maybe not...), a friend and I actually had a few minutes to relax. We just stood there outside, watching traffic go by, and for no reason he started whistling the Andy Griffith theme song. Of course I joined in, snapping my fingers. A few other people joined in, and we carried on like that for several minutes. We all stopped at exactly the same time, again for no real reason, after "performing" the song several times. Then it was back to work, but for some reason, that short break in the routine was all we needed to boost our energy!
MaryMitch BradBeall 4 months ago
Great story! Everyone knows the song; my sister has it as her ring tone.

Your story reminds me of the time Mr. Rogers was riding the subway and someone started singing "Won't you be my neighbor" and the whole car joined in.
Avie 4 months ago
"According to Earle Hagen, who composed the show's theme, the uncomplicated theme song was by design. A News-Star article quoted Hagen as having said, 'It occurred to me that it should be something simple — simple enough to whistle.'"

It actually IS a song, because there ARE lyrics (music for which there are NO lyrics is NOT a song), but Hagen wrote only the melody.

HOW can whoever wrote the above article (no one ever gets a byline on these frequently terribly-written articles; I wonder why) omit the most important fact: THE LYRICS WERE WRITTEN BY ANDY GRIFFITH, himself!

And those lyrics are:

Well now, take down your fishing pole
And meet me at the fishing hole
We may not get a bite all day
But don't you rush away
What a great place to rest your bones
And mighty fine for skipping stones
You'll feel fresh as a lemonade a-setting in the shade
Whether it's hot, whether it's cool
Oh what a spot for whistling like a fool
What a fine day to take a stroll and wind up at the fishing hole
I can't think of a better way to pass the time of day
We'll have no need to call the roll
When we get to the fishing hole
They'll be you, me, and old dog, trey to do the time away
If we don't hook a perch or bass
We'll cool our toes in dewy grass
Or else pull up a weed to chaw
And maybe sit and jaw
Hanging around, taking our ease
Watching that hound a scratching at his fleas
I'm gonna take down my fishing pole
And meet you at the fishing hole
I can't think of a better way
To pass the time of day.
MaryMitch Avie 4 months ago
according to the Deseret News:
"The song is called "The Fishin' Hole," and the lyrics were written by Everett Sloane, Earle Hagen and Herbert Spencer. You may remember Sloane as the bad guy Jubal Foster, the moonshine-making farmer who unjustly accuses Opie of burning down his barn, on one of my favorite episodes, "Keeper of the Flame.""
MaryMitch MaryMitch 4 months ago
Also see the Mayberry Wiki page: https://mayberry.fandom.com/wiki/%22The_Fishin%27_Hole%22
JJ614 4 months ago
Hum, yes. Whistle? No. It's incredibly difficult to whistle, covering an entire octave + one note higher, not to mention accidentals.
timothys71 JJ614 4 months ago
I always thought the Andy Griffith theme was pretty easy to whistle. It has always reminded me of "The Happy Whistler" by Don Robertson, which was the theme tune for a children's TV program called "Dr. Max and Mombo" that was produced in my home state of Iowa in the 1960's and 1970's.
djfone 4 months ago
That story's a great description of why the show is so successful even 50 years after its primetime run. It's TIMELESS. The show is about the human condition, written by people who clearly had experienced LIFE --- raising kids; enduring hardships; having little money; having no influence or power --- which is why Shakespeare is still relevant today. It is NOT, like so many of today's unfunny comedies, a constant gag-fest of quickly outdated pop culture references, acid-tongued comebacks from kids to adults, or clearly the results of pampered, cushy Ivy League grads in Writer's Rooms trying to out-hip each other.
djw1120 4 months ago
My favorite episode was when a farmer's goat ate several cases of dynamite!!!
Then later when Otis walks into the jail after having "a snootful" and tries to lock himself into "his" jail cell he finds the goat there and tries to throw him out!
When Andy and Barney come back to the courthouse, they find Otis fighting with "Jimmy" - the goat.
Then Andy says, "That's all we need is two loaded goats."
Every time I hear that I crack up with laughter.
JPound 4 months ago
Hagen among other shows, composed the terrific theme to I SPY. Also all the specific country related incidental music throughout the series. A very talented composer.
toddo JPound 4 months ago
Not just I SPY, but Gomer Pyle and that hard-drivin' theme to The MOD Squad! As a kid, I wanted to jump up and start running with the credits!! Such talent!
Runeshaper 4 months ago
Did anyone else whistle at least some of the tune while reading this? lol

Have to point out a few things;

A) Earle Hagen was a genius! Thought of Festus when I saw the "Hagen".
B) Harvey Bullock! Thought of Detective Harvey Bullock from Batman: The Animated Series.
MrsPhilHarris Runeshaper 4 months ago
I whistled and hummed it.
GOOSEYGOOSE9 4 months ago
Earle Hagen whistled the theme song.
JJ614 GOOSEYGOOSE9 4 months ago
And even HE had trouble with it. There's at least one note out of tune.
FrankensteinLover 4 months ago
Its what you hear when my phone rings, and very timeless. I love all things Mayberry.
That's my ringtone also! I just say when it starts, hold on let me see what Aunt Bea wants.
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