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The Mary Tyler Moore Show Theme Song

| September 19, 2011 | 12 Comments

On September 19, 1970, The Mary Tyler Moore Show debuted on CBS. And it’s impossible to think of it without smiling and humming a little “Love Is All Around.” That ditty became 56 seconds of TV theme song history and the deal of a lifetime for songwriter Sonny Curtis who wrote and performed it.

Curtis, who also penned such classics as “I Fought the Law” and was a member of Buddy Holly’s Crickets, told the Austin Chronicle:

“I had just bought a house in L.A. and I was at home, just sitting around pickin’ one morning. This friend of mine, Doug Gilmore, who worked for the Williams & Price agency, called me and said, ‘They’re doing a sitcom with Mary Tyler Moore and they want a theme song. Would you be interested?’ I said, ‘Ah, man, sure.’ That was about 11 a.m.

“At noon, during his lunch break, he dropped off a four-page format that described the show. It wasn’t a script, just a description. I’ve always thought that was kinda lucky, because they didn’t give me a lot of information. It just said, ‘A girl from the Midwest moves to Minneapolis.’ She got jilted I believe. ‘Gets a job at a newsroom, gets an apartment she has a hard time affording.’ You know, that kinda stuff.

“So I sat down and started thinkin’ about what to write. By about 2 p.m. I had one verse. I called [Gilmore] and said, ‘Who do I sing this to?’ He sent me over to Studio City—not far from my house— to the CBS soundstage to see [the show’s creator] James L. Brooks.

“There was this huge room that had no furniture in it. We met in that room, and he was rather cold to me. He said, ‘I’ll listen to what you’ve got, but we’re not near this stage yet of choosing a theme song.’ So I said, ‘Well … okay.’

“He had a couple of iron chairs sent in. I sat down and sang him the song, the one verse—which is all that’s on the show. (After I got the deal, I wrote another verse, lengthened it just in case for a record.) There was a phone sitting on the floor, and he got on the wire and called somebody and said, ‘Come down and listen to this.’

“Before I left, I had sung it about 10 times and the whole room was filled with people lined up all around the walls. Then he sent out for a cassette recorder. He said, ‘I want to take this song with me to Minneapolis.’ They were going up that weekend to do the show’s titles. He said, ‘I want this song with me.’

“By that point, I felt pretty good about it. And it was a one-day deal from start to finish.”

Thanks for one of our life’s happiest soundtracks, Sonny!


Category: Behind The Song

Comments (12)

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  1. Louise Christopher says:

    Mary will always be a legend. Good of heart like Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. Wonderful ladies growing up.

  2. Lauren says:

    Rest in peace Mary Tyler Moore — we will always remember you for the show and the part where you toss your hat up into the air at the end of the song…..Also, I DO recall her powerful performance in the movie, “Ordinary People” which won her an Academy Award.

  3. Linda says:

    I love that song, it makes me cry every time I hear it. I love Mary Tyler Moore,

  4. John H. says:

    Can anyone tell me who were the musicians that performed the music?

  5. Thomas says:

    I believe that the “bum-bum-bum” tone heard at the very beginning of both TV versions of the song is done with a synthesizer and drum beat.

    The second version of Love Is All Around (TV version) sounds like it’s instrumented with a synthesizer along with percussion and brass.

  6. bert says:

    I find the first second of the theme song interesting. That hard powerful BUM BUM! then the softer theme comes in. Is that BUM BUM actually a part of the theme or just a attention getter for the show?

  7. Allen says:

    The original promo pilot for MTM show that CBS aired in 1970, before the actual show aired in Sept. 1970, had the titles used on the actual show but the opening theme music had different instrumentals and lyrics. There used to be a copy of that CBS promo on an MTM fan site page, but It doesn’t appear to be up any longer. The only difference in the lyrics goes: this world is awfully big, girl you live so far from home. The change on the revised version goes: this world is awfully big, girl this time you’re all alone.

  8. Leon H. says:

    The original 1970 version of “Love Is All Around” which was used on the first season of MTM was also released as a single with the second verse. The singles’ release had a completely different musical arrangement compared to the TV version. The second verse of the lyrics from the 1970 version was also used in the second version of the song in 1971.

    The second version of “Love Is All Around” was released for the second season of MTM. There is information (according to John Javna’s TV theme song book) that there was also a single released for that version in 1974, but I have never come across that single.

    “Love Is All Around” got an update on MTM for the show’s last season. The instrumentals and vocals were different yet the lyrics remained the same.

    The last released single of “Love Is All Around” was released in 1980 and this version was strictly country western, sounding nothing like the previous versions of the song.

    When CBS released the 20th Anniversary Special of MTM in 1990 the opening theme of “Love Is All Around” has a slightly different musical arrangement. It sounds very similar to the second to sixth season version, but it was never used on the MTM show. Only half of the sung part of the song is used cutting to instrumental pieces. My guess is that this version of “Love Is All Around” is the 1974 single release that appears to be a rarity in locating. It would have been interesting if CBS hadn’t edited this version on the MTM Anniversary Special.

    On YouTube there is video of the second version of “Love Is All Around” with the lyrics deleted. This is not the 30 second version CBS used on some MTM episodes, rather it’s the full 55 seconds with the lyrics removed for some sort of voice over’s in syndication. It’s interesting to hear the full instrumental impact of the song. The electronic strings, brass and percussion are all heard.

    The second verse of the lyrics that is seldom heard goes like this:

    You are most likely to succeed.

    You have the looks and charm, and girl you know that’s all you need.

    All the men around adore you; that sexy look will do wonders for you.

    Love is all around no need to waste it.

    You can have the town, why don’t you take it?

    You’re gonna make it after all.

    You’re gonna make it after all.

    • Susan J. Parrett says:

      I swear, a couple weeks ago on an earlier show the song said ” You might just make it after all”. NOW it says “you’re gonna make it after all”. AM I CRAZY OR WHAT?!?

      • Andrea says:

        You’re not crazy. The first season has a different version. It included the lyrics “you might just make it after all”. It also starts differently.

  9. rob says:

    I seem to remember hearing the 2nd verse…maybe in the closing credits for a particular season.

  10. Dave B says:

    The video link should have been to the theme from the first season since that’s the verse that Sonny Curtis describes in the story. See link:

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