"Where Everybody Knows Your Name" is the theme song from the 1980s television
Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...
A situation comedy, often shortened to sitcom, is a genre of comedy that features characters sharing the same common environment, such as a home or workplace, accompanied with jokes as part of the dialogue...
Cheers is an American situation comedy television series that ran for 11 seasons from 1982 to 1993. It was produced by Charles/Burrows/Charles Productions, in association with Paramount Network Television for NBC, and was created by the team of James Burrows, Glen Charles, and Les Charles...
. The song was written by Gary Portnoy
Gary Portnoy is a singer/ songwriter from New York, best known for co-writing and singing the theme songs to two U.S. television sitcoms:*Cheers Theme: "Where Everybody Knows Your Name"*Punky Brewster Theme: "Every Time I Turn Around"...
and Judy Hart Angelo and performed by Portnoy. Shortly after the premiere of Cheers, Gary Portnoy went back into the studio to record a full-length version of the song that made the US and British pop charts.
It was not until the release of Gary Portnoy's album, Keeper (2004), that the full-length version was made available on CD (and shortly thereafter on iTunes). In 2010, Portnoy released a new CD, Songs Along The Way, that includes his original demo recording of the Cheers theme (with the original lyrics as referenced below.)
In a 2011 Readers Poll in Rolling Stone magazine, "Where Everybody Knows Your Name" was voted the best television theme of all time.
By 1981, New York songwriter Gary Portnoy had already written songs for the likes of Air Supply
Air Supply is an Australian soft rock duo, consisting of Graham Russell as guitarist and singer-songwriter and Russell Hitchcock as lead vocalist. They had a succession of hits worldwide, including eight Top Ten hits in the United States, in the early 1980s...
("I’ll Never Get Enough") and Dolly Parton
Dolly Rebecca Parton is an American singer-songwriter, author, multi-instrumentalist, actress and philanthropist, best known for her work in country music. Dolly Parton has appeared in movies like 9 to 5, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Steel Magnolias and Straight Talk...
("Say Goodnight"). One night in the summer of that same year, his friend Judy Hart happened to be seated next to a Broadway producer at dinner. Upon finding out that Hart was working for a music publisher, he asked her if she could recommend someone to compose the score for a new musical he was producing. On a whim, Hart, who had never written a song, approached Portnoy, who had never written for the theater and, together, they set out to compose the words and music for the musical named Preppies.
In the spring of 1982, Judy (now using her full married name) Hart Angelo sent a tape of Preppies opening number, "People Like Us", to a friend in California, who then passed it on to television producers Glen
Glen Gerald Charles was born on February 18, 1943 in Las Vegas, Nevada. He attended the University of Redlands, California and earned a B.A. in English. Charles began his professional life as an advertising copywriter, but moved into television. He began his television career with his brother, Les...
and Les Charles
Les Charles was born in Henderson, Nevada. He attended the University of Redlands, California and earned a B.A. in English. Charles began his professional career as a high school English teacher, but moved into television....
. Upon hearing it they each felt that, with a lyric re-write, "People Like Us" would be the perfect theme song for their upcoming NBC sitcom Cheers. Upon learning that "People Like Us" was legally bound to the musical Preppies, the Charles Brothers asked Portnoy and Hart Angelo to take a shot at composing a theme specifically for Cheers. The song that resulted, "My Kind of People", was somewhat of a reworked version of "People Like Us". It was subsequently rejected.
Portnoy and Hart Angelo then wrote and submitted two more potential themes for Cheers. One of them, entitled "Another Day" contained a lyric line "There are times when it's fun to take the long way home" that greatly appealed to the Charles brothers. But, overall, the song missed the mark and was passed on. The fourth song began with a catchy intro followed by simple, alternating chords on a piano. The opening verse lines, both musically and lyrically, were something of a lament. The verse then transitioned into a soaring refrain that seemed to capture the essence of why people might want to go to a place like "Cheers" — a place "Where Everybody Knows Your Name". The two songwriters recorded a simple piano/voice demo of the new song for the Cheers producers. Upon hearing it, the Charles Brothers gave it their stamp of approval and, once Portnoy and Hart Angelo had complied with a request for a few lyric changes intended to broaden the song's appeal to a more general audience, "Where Everybody Knows Your Name" was officially designated the "Theme From Cheers". The original verse:
- Singing the blues when the Red Sox lose
- It’s a crisis in your life
- On the run 'cause all your girlfriends
- Wanna be your wife
- And the laundry ticket’s in the wash
Was changed to:
- Making your way in the world today
- Takes everything you got
- Taking a break from all your worries
- Sure would help a lot
- Wouldn’t you like to get away
After several months of mulling over possible outside singers, the producers eventually asked Gary Portnoy to record the vocal for the opening credits of their new series. (The chorus of the song is six of Portnoy’s vocals that he recorded one on top of the other to create the "group sound" of the hook.) It was also decided to maintain the simple feel of the New York demo in the TV version by keeping the number of instruments to a minimum. The final Cheers Theme was recorded on August 13, 1982 at Paramount Pictures in Los Angeles, California.
The song received an Emmy Award
An Emmy Award, often referred to simply as the Emmy, is a television production award, similar in nature to the Peabody Awards but more focused on entertainment, and is considered the television equivalent to the Academy Awards and the Grammy Awards .A majority of Emmys are presented in various...
nomination in 1983, for Outstanding Achievement in Music and Lyrics. It is frequently cited as one of the very best television theme songs of all time.
This recording was used by the show for its entire duration. When Cheers switched to stereo
STEREO is a solar observation mission. Two nearly identical spacecraft were launched into orbits that cause them to respectively pull farther ahead of and fall gradually behind the Earth...
sound instead of mono
Monaural or monophonic sound reproduction is single-channel. Typically there is only one microphone, one loudspeaker, or channels are fed from a common signal path...
for the 4th season, the original mix of the theme song was simply transferred to 2-channel stereo. However, six episodes into this season, the theme was completely overhauled, with a new mix that took more advantage of the stereo sound. This version was used for the remainder of the series, and has been the one used when released on soundtracks.
When the show was remastered in the early 2000s, all of the mono episodes were converted to stereo. This included a different mix of the theme to stereo (unlike the early season 4 episodes), which takes advantage of 5.1 channel surround sound.
State Farm Insurance
State Farm Insurance is a group of insurance and financial services companies in the United States. The company also has operations in Canada....
used the song in a 2011 commercial called "State of Anonymity".
- Gary Portnoy's official website - includes a video history "Outside Cheers" that showcases the life of the song both on and off the series. There is also a detailed, biographical account of the story behind the Cheers theme (including audio recordings of rejected earlier efforts), the original demo recording, and full lyrics.