Variations on a theme

How the Furnaces tap '70s television
By DANIEL BROCKMAN  |  June 9, 2009

Stop making sense: The precision mashups of the Fiery Furnaces. By Daniel Brockman.
When Matt Friedberger started putting together the music that would become I'm Going Away, he found odd inspirations in the themesongs of '70s television shows.

"I just got it into my head that a lot of people use rock records as soundtracks to their life. They put music on in the car, they put music on when they're getting ready in the morning, they have their iPod so that they have music on all the time, and all of this lets music control their environment. But times are tough now, so people's lives don't include the budget for a full soundtrack like they have in the movies. So I was thinking that, you know, people are reduced to a sit-com instead! And so I thought I'd do some songs in the same style."

Here are four of Friedberger's favorites:

TAXI | "TAXI (ANGELA'S THEME)," BY BOB JAMES | "It accomplishes so much in encapsulating what the show wants to be about, it encompasses that mood so well. The show wanted to be a comedy, but there's also a serious center — not quite sentimental, but something like that. And it's a great tune, pretty sophisticated and jazzy!"

THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW | "LOVE IS ALL AROUND," BY SONNY CURTIS | "It's very upbeat, stridently so, and it's kind of sad, to me, because the song sounds like it's trying to convince itself. You know, she's going to go off into the world and she's going to 'make it after all.' I think perhaps she protests too much; maybe she's not going to make it after all."

WELCOME BACK, KOTTER | "WELCOME BACK," BY JOHN SEBASTIAN | "This song manages to be very welcoming and happy but still very sad. Partly because it's by John Sebastian, who had had hit records with the Lovin' Spoonful and was very successful at that time. And the show just wanted to provide normal cheap laughs but also wanted to feel good about itself in a certain way, but with a wistfulness tossed in."

LAVERNE & SHIRLEY | "MAKING OUR DREAMS COME TRUE," BY CHARLES FOX AND NORMAN GIMBEL | "It's got a great credit sequence, on the assembly line, just a great energy. But I always said that the problem with that show is that it's a great show, but why do they talk with these weird New York accents in Milwaukee? I mean, I know that Laverne moved from Brooklyn and all, but people have a very distinct way of talking in Wisconsin, would it have killed them to show that? I dunno, call me crazy."

  Topics: Music Features , The Lovin' Spoonful, Bob James, John Sebastian
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