Thursday, April 11, 2013

Will the Real Dukes of Hazzard Theme Please Stand Up?

With streaming as common as it is today, you can easily watch all of your old favorites.  From Mr. Wizard's World to MacGyver to Knight Rider, all of my faves from the 80s are just a click and maybe two bucks away.

Seriously, a Coke from the vending machine at work is $1.50, so I won't sweat paying $1.99 to watch a favorite show from my childhood.

My son Ian is crazy about anything with an engine in it.  Since I have fond memories of the Dukes when I was a kid and played with my General Lee Matchbox car in the sandbox, I thought it was time to introduce Ian to this and see what he thought of it.

I mean, what's not to like about a couple of guys sliding across a car hood and climbing through the windows?  What's not to like about awesome CGI-free car jumping in almost every episode?  I knew this tire-smoking show would get my son's gears turning.  And really, even COMMERCIALS on TV today aren't kid-friendly.

TV of 2013 pretty much bites if you're a kid.

Well, after one viewing he loved it.  We've watched two episodes so far.  There was gratuitous car jumping and tire spinning in both shows.  I loved watching it as much as (probably more than) he did.  We were about 3/4 of the way through the first show and he goes and grabs one of his toy trucks and starts racing it around on the floor with one hand -- the other hand is maneuvering another truck that was a 'police car' in hot pursuit.

Awesome.  :-)

So, I can't get enough of it now, and I wanted to add the theme song to my Google Play library.  Well, there are lots of options and some of them bad.  First off, you'll probably encounter this one, plunk down $1.29 and think you're done:

C'mon, the Ultimate Waylon Jennings compilation album...  This has to be what I want.  Well, it isn't.  This song sounded totally different.  I couldn't put my finger on it, but this was not the same as the theme from the show.  I listened to it a few times and I realized that besides a verse at the end that I've never heard before, I was missing the lyric about "fightin' the system like a true modern-day Robin Hood" (or something like that -- I find out later this is wrong).

Hm.  Well I'm a little disappointed but I wasn't about to give up that easily.  I came across this one:

Okay, here we go.  We've got the high-ish premium of a popular song ($1.29 instead of $0.99).  We've got the entire cast on the album cover, including the General.  This has to be the 'official' theme.  We've even got a 1982 date on the album in the Play Store.

Oh my word.  This sucked.  What you've got here is the entire cast of the show singing their interpretation of the opening theme.  We've got the music fading into the background while J.D. Hogg makes a little commentary.  This was enough for me.  I pressed stop and actually DELETED the song from my music collection, thereby blowing $1.29 out the window.

Now, I guess I should have previewed the song first, but I was on my phone and it wasn't really convenient.  Later on, from my laptop, I did some more investigation.  I found this version on the same album.  Now with my laptop, I previewed the song a few times.  It was exactly the same as the one from the Ultimate Waylon Jennings collection!

Hm.  Time to dig a little further.  Can you believe that Wikipedia actually has an entry for this song?  Yep.  Theme from The Dukes of Hazzard (Good Ol' Boys)

The article explains pretty clearly what I'd discovered:

As the narrator for the 1975 movie, Moonrunners, Jennings was tapped to serve in the same capacity for The Dukes of Hazzard which premiered on CBS in 1979 and was based on Moonrunners. Jennings wrote the theme song for the show and recorded two versions: the television theme version and a slightly different version made commercially available on both single and album which received radio airplay.[1]
The television show version features a banjo which the commercially available version does not. Additionally, the TV version's third verse contains the lyric, "Fightin' the system like two modern-day Robin Hoods", which is accompanied by a "Yee-haw!" said by characters, Bo Duke (John Schneider) and Luke Duke (Tom Wopat), though it is in fact Schneider's vocal used twice.

The article also says:

Most of Jennings' greatest hits albums and various compilation releases containing the "Theme From The Dukes of Hazzard (Good Ol' Boys)" feature the commercially available version.

Well, I see the word "Most" there so that means I've got to find the real version.  The banjo version.  The version with the Robin Hood mention.  I'd even appreciate the yee-haw at the end but I won't get too picky.

Google Play has live versions, karaoke versions, instrumental versions, covers, you name it.   I previewed many and didn't find the original.  I've got to have the original.

Without stretching this on much longer, I found it.  Amazon has it.  At $0.89 it didn't pass the popularity test.  It failed the album cover test miserably.  There's no mention of Waylon.  But trust me, this is the original TV version.  The banjo is there.  The lyrics are there.  It's all there.  (Bummer, we don't get to hear Schneider's 'yee-haw').





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