My Own Theme Music

I’m a big fan of Family Guy. One of my favorite episodes comes near the end of Season 3 in which Peter opens a bottle of beer and out pops a genie to grant him three wishes. After wishing to see what Kelly Rippa looks like when she’s off the set of Regis & Kelly (it ain’t pretty), his second wish is to have his own theme music. As he walks along the streets of Quahog the music changes along with the things that happen to him.

If I look at a typical day for me (at least one in which I actually leave my apartment), what would be my theme music? Since I am a man of many moods (not all of them pleasant), the musical choices need to be varied.

7:00-9:00 AM
I usually sleep very poorly so when the alarm goes off at 7:00, it’s a pretty good bet I’m not going to get up right away. Because I’m not a morning person and I have nothing of any interest to say at that hour (thankfully Watson doesn’t demand much), it’s best to ease myself into the day. For that, some quiet Georges Delerue should do nicely.

9:00-10:00 AM
I’ve had my cereal and watched “In the Papers” on NY1. Why a TV news channel chooses to read headlines from newspapers with day-old news is beyond me. But since it’s my only dose of news during the day, I watch it faithfully. The laptop is now turned on and my day of staring at the screen has begun. As I check my emails and catch up on my RSS feeds, I’m still not ready for prime time. The music can have a little more oomph and drama to it, but I’m still easing into it. Pretty much anything by Alfred Newman would be appropriate.

10:00-12:00 PM
By this time, I’m hopefully writing. I’m either slogging through a blog post, staring at that blasted e-book that doesn’t seem to want to write itself, or surfing through Facebook and Twitter procrastinating from doing any actual work. By now my blood is pumping (at least most days) and I’m yearning for inspiration. The music of choices depends on the activity. If it’s a blog post, I’m listening to whatever music I’m discussing that day. Otherwise, let’s say something by Jerry Goldsmith. Maybe RUDY or HOOSIERS.

12:00-5:00 PM
Ideally, the bulk of my day should be spent completing writing projects. But with the paid gigs on the wane at the moment, that leaves me up to my own devices, which is not always a good thing. Whether I have errands to run or I’m at home writing, I’m usually listening to new review scores on my iPod or new EVO 4G phone, which I dearly love. (My old iPhone can suck it!) When I’m out, I’m navigating the hustle and bustle of Manhattan, trying to maintain some semblance of personal space and not scream at tourists to get the hell out of my way. It’s difficult to choose a newer score that’s appropriate while out and about in the city, but John Powell’s HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON is still in rotation on the electronic device of choice and those rousing action cues are the perfect distraction to keep me from going postal on some poor, unsuspecting traveler.

5:00-7:00 PM
Let’s say my workday ends at 5:00 like you normal folk (which it seldom does). I’ll wind down with some mindless reruns of THE OFFICE and SEINFELD and grab dinner. The music is usually off during this period.

After a full day of (hopefully) writing, I usually turn to more words and read. Though I occasionally have music on in the background, my reading retention skills are challenged to the max under the best of circumstances (always have been), much less with sounds that will draw my attention away from the words on the page (or on my Nook e-reader screen, another gadget I dearly love). If this is my reading time, then it’s generally quiet. If I’m watching a DVD, then obviously that score becomes my focus.

So that’s my theme music for the day. When I first started this post, I thought I’d be able to come up with concrete examples for nearly every part of the day. And then I realized that, just like a film score proper, life is made up of multiple themes. They develop and change throughout the day, and no one is like any other. The energy of our daily lives is mirrored in the theme music we choose to accompany it with.

What is your theme music?

  1. During high school, I was the star of my own show, an episodic fish-out-of-water science fiction deal about a guy from another time and place (me) who was stranded on earth. The “overture” from John Barry’s The Black Hole ( served as the theme song. I had an elaborate credits sequence that played out in my mind.

    in other news, I am a nerd.

  2. I love this article! Lately, while trying not to burn out Inception, ive been burning out Firebird, hoping i can soak some of that mojo up for my own writing. HTTYD is still on heavy rotation during travel, and at night, as i’m winding down for the day, it’s been a mix of William’s E.T. and Horner’s Khan score. Sci-Fi music is my happy place for some odd reason ;)

    1. Wow, Billy. Somehow I totally missed your comment. Sorry about that.

      What is it about sci-fi that brings out so much good in composers? Dreams of the future and the unknown? I dunno but whatever it is, God bless ’em!

  3. This article brought back memories of Walter Matthau in Billy Wilder’s terrific comedy, THE FORTUNE COOKIE. One of the great bits is where Matthau runs around doing his dirty business while performing his own rendition of THE BARBER OF SEVILLE. I’m laughing just thinking about it.

    I’d have to say my idea of daily theme music would relate closely to Matthau’s favorite colleague, and that great “everyman”, Jack Lemmon, in HOW TO MURDER YOUR WIFE. Neal Hefti wrote a cool set of bachelor-pad themes for both his bourgeois lifestyle and Bash-Brannigan alter-ego that would fully suffice for my day. A delightful score full of marvelous melodies.

    1. I haven’t seen FORTUNE COOKIE in years. And I love Hefti’s groovy tunes for HTMYW. So much fun. That’s GREAT theme music. :)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More Stories
The Man with the Golden Arm
Frankie Says Relax