Monday, February 24, 2014

Lalo Schifrin -- "Theme from Mannix" (1967)

George Orwell (who was born Eric Arthur Blair) coined the neologism doublethink, which he defined as "the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them."  

Orwell first used doublethink in his remarkable dystopian novel, 1984, which was published just a few months before Orwell died in January 1950.

But Orwell had penned a notable example of doublethink in his 1945 novella, Animal Farm

All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

The same applies to 2 or 3 lines, boys and girls.  Let me explain.

I decided a few weeks ago that one of the instrumentals in this year's "29 Posts in 28 Days" would be a theme song from one of the many great old detective/secret agent TV shows of my youth.

I'm talking about shows like Peter Gunn and The Untouchables and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and I Spy and Mission: Impossible and Hawaii 5-0 . . . all of which had theme songs worthy of being featured on 2 or 3 lines.

Mike Connors
So why did I choose to feature the theme song from Mannix, a CBS private-eye series starring Mike Connors that ran from 1967 to 1975?

Mannix was not the best of those shows -- it was a solid private-eye series, but wasn't particularly distinctive or stylish.  And its theme song doesn't really stand out.

The Mannix theme was written by Lalo Schifrin, a very successful composer of television and movie soundtracks.  

Schifrin composed the music for dozens and dozens of movies, including classics like Cool Hand Luke, Dirty Harry (and its sequels), and Enter the Dragon (Bruce Lee's final movie).  But he is most famous for his Mission: Impossible theme.

The Mannix theme is a little different from most TV themes because it's in 6/8 time.

But Mission: Impossible has a 5/4 time signature, which is very innovative.  Most people would no doubt pick it over the Mannix theme.

So why am I featuring the theme from Mannix?  Because my high-school jazz band performed it -- with me at the piano.

So you might say that the Mannix theme isn't as good as the Mission: Impossible theme -- but at the same time, it's better.

You may not understand how that is possible.  But George Orwell would have.

Here's a video of the opening and closing credits of a Mannix episode, which will give you the theme song as it was heard by viewers of the show:

And here's an arrangement of the theme song performed by the WDR Big Band.  (WDR -- Westdeutcher Rundfunk -- is a German public-broadcasting institution based in Cologne that also sponsors a symphony orchestra.)

Click below to buy a recording of the Mannix TV theme:

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