The Best of All Worlds

a salute to
In Memoriam 2

“It was a brief line in the Sunday paper and undoubtedly was overlooked by most readers.

Song writer Earle H. Hagen died at the age of 89.

I dare say that every one of us knows Hagen's best-known song, but few of us would recognize its lyrics. We simply whistle along as Hagen's familiar whistle is heard at the beginning and ending of "The Andy Griffith Show."

See? You smiled when you read that, didn't you?

Might this happy little song be the most recognized, most often repeated song in American music history?

It's a song that was old hat by the time Michael Jackson was born and long before the Beatles changed the musical and cultural landscape of our world.

Hagen wrote and performed the opening of this popular show with only one guideline from the director: make it upbeat, bouncy and happy.

It took less than one working day for Earle Hagen to put this song and music on paper, and it became an immediate hit.

He also wrote the theme songs for "The Danny Thomas Show," "Gomer Pyle," "The Dick VanDyke Show" and others. We live in a day of harsh sounds and dark story lines. Television has become repetitive, silly and noisy. We doubt that any of today's directors would have need for a bouncy and happy theme song. And that's too bad.

Yes, Andy Griffith and Don Knotts were cornballs, but oh, weren't they magnificent. There is a reason why the reruns of "The Andy Griffith Show" today rank higher than most prime time programs. Maybe it's because viewers find something they crave in the little town of Mayberry --- something so needed in modern society.

I suppose it would be a boring world if our entertainment was limited to watching Andy, Barney and Gomer running through their simple lines, always heading toward a "moral" at episode's end. But I'm thankful for the times I have whistled a duet with Mr. Hagen as this much-loved show makes its frequent appearance on our TV set.Go ahead and try it: Whistle a few lines of the song and see if you don't break into a big smile.

There. You've just paid a living tribute to Mr. Earle H. Hagen.”

Rudy Taylor
(reprinted with the kind permission of the author from his "Off The Cuff" column in Taylor Newspapers

“I was very sorry to hear the news about the death of Earle Hagen. He was a great gift to us all.”

David Storrs

 Rest in peace Earle. My prayers are with you, and Jimmy and dear dear Deane.

gail davis

”Earle Hagen was a very talented man. He will be ery missed too.  Thanks for the music Earle!”

Frank O' The Mountain

More tributes from Earle Hagen's peers in the Society of Composers & Lyricists

I am saddened to hear of the passing of Earle Hagen. I can't begin to describe the influence Earle has had on my life as a musician.

From the early age of 10, my ears were open to any special sounds i would hear off of the TV ... such as sound was the musical arrangement of The Danny Thomas Show Theme(Danny Boy). I thought, wow that is a special arrangement, with those low saxes filling in and high strings playing the melody an octave above the trumpet lead ...

Throughout the years, my ears were also open to other things that Earle was doing. One that comes to mind is the fantastic orchestration on the "That Girl" theme. Those high blaring trumpets with the unique voicings ... wow, what a musician!

Earle was kind enough to give me permission to get a copy of the lead line from that show through the Library of Congress. I'll never forget his musical genius or compassion for others.

Steve Owen

To me, one of the most interesting aspects of Earle's work in Call Me Madam and Gentlement Prefer Blondes, are the "voicings" which manifest  the transition to the modern jazz era,  slow to arrive in motion pictures; these arrangements are so tasty and fresh that they sound great today. In that sense, Earle was a creative leader, much appreciated by younger filmgoers, as well as by
the trade.

Long unavailable on DVD (until 2004), "Call Me Madam"now refreshes our memories of Earle's great benefits to those Irving Berlin standards.

Marc Wedner

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