Whistle A Happy Tune
:: The Andy Griffith Show Theme - The Fishin' Hole ::
:: I Spy ::
Earle Hagen, who passed away last week at age 88 may not have had the most recognizable name, but his compositions are among the most iconic of the mid to late 20th century. With the advent of television, Hagen's style found a new home when a tune he wrote in the late 30s while doing stints in big bands as a trombonist became the theme to Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer. Suddenly the already legendary Harlem Nocturne was heard weekly by millions tuning in to see the hard boiled TV detective, and Hagen soon was hired by producer Sheldon Leonard to write themes for the new television frontier.
Among the countless TV themes he wrote (and here's a good source), perhaps one of the simplest was the most memorable: The Andy Griffith Show Theme: The Fishin' Hole (as performed here by guitarist Henry Kaiser with vocalist Cary Sheldon). The whistled theme perfectly conveyed the laid back small town feel of Mayberry and fishin' at the fishin' hole with Opie and Andy.
Earle's greatest challenge though was the I Spy series. Not only did he write the classic mid-60s spy show theme, in keeping with the show's extremely high production values in which each episode was shot on location the world over, Hagen was assigned to write and arrange original scores for each episode (an unheard of concept to this day). The composer traveled the world doing pre-production research in preparation for a caper in Morocco, or a cliffhanger in Tokyo.
I have to admit I didn't know his name until I read his obituary (although I've owned the I Spy soundtrack album for years), but when I read his many credits I realized what an impact he had in my musical development and appreciation for sophistication combined with a simple, memorable melody. His kind will be well missed.