Created by Norman Lear, based on the BBC sitcom Til Death Do Us Part created by Johnny Speight, All In The Family is still a cultural hit. It’s responsible for two successful spin-offs, one of which created its own spin-off, and two failed spin-offs, Gloria and 704 Hauser, the former about a divorced Gloria trying to raise her son and the latter a race and political flip of the Bunkers. Archie Bunker, a bigot but not necessarily a hateful racist so much as a low-class nitwit, is more beloved than one would think and is one of two of Carroll O’Connor‘s most popular roles. Everyone knows this series and it’s survived to be a favorite of many to this day.
It’s amazing, given my love of intros that today I learned two things about the intro to the show, “Those Were The Days”, and most surprisingly the closing theme, “Remembering You”. One was new information while the other I should have realized but didn’t until Wikipedia pointed it out to me. But it started with a post on Facebook by Antenna TV, the retro TV channel. Did you know that instrumental closing had lyrics?
While the song was always played without lyrics in the closing credits, Roger Kellaway (who wrote the song) and O’Connor came up with actual lyrics to the song which he sung in this clip from The Flip Wilson Show.
It’s odd that this song is about a broken romance given that until Mike left Gloria to live in a commune with one of his students that ending of relationships has nothing to do with the show. Archie and Edith, despite the way Archie treated her at times, were very much in love right up to the time of her death, when Jean Stapleton left the show after it transitioned to Archie Bunker’s Place. Although allegorically it does kind of fit in with the opening song. “Those Were The Days” is about wanting to relive the “good ol’ days” in light of the cultural changes going on in the 1970s, seeing their history through rose-colored glasses, as many of us do in any generation, mourning the loss of what they did right back then while the current generation focuses on what they did wrong and tries to change almost everything in the process. You could make the case that the singer is accepting that those days are gone now and they have to move on to how things are today. I know I’m seeing the unintended but it works for me.
Anyway, I went to the Wikipedia entry on the show curious what they said about “Remembering You”, and this was the paragraph I met, emphasis mine:
The closing theme (an instrumental) was “Remembering You” played by Roger Kellaway with lyrics co-written by Carroll O’Connor. It was played over footage of the same row of houses in Queens as in the opening (but moving in the opposite direction down the street), and eventually moving back to aerial shots of Manhattan, suggesting the visit to the Bunkers’ home has concluded.
That’s the part I didn’t notice. That the intro, although starting with Archie and Edith sitting at the piano singing the theme song, transitions to the city, moves into the neighborhood, and then back to the Bunkers, while the closing does the exact opposite, leaving the neighborhood and back into the city. Take a look.
Am I the dummy for not noticing this or am I not alone? It’s really clever. I’ve often said that the intro’s job is to draw you into the presented universe while the outro lets you back into the world but here’s the perfect example of both in action. The idea of using the piano was a cost-saving measure, and probably so was the stock footage, but they use it well.
Intros are a dying art and closing credits all but gone now that advertisers demand more space and the show creators are forced to stuff what they can into the time allotted. It’s why I have a My Favorite Intros category, to preserve the best ones before the concept is lost, especially in the kinds of shows I usually watch.