March 29, 2009

The Music of The Flintstones

Before Family Guy, before South Park, before The Simpsons, the very first prime time animated series was The Flintstones, which ran from 1960 to 1966 on ABC. I watched the reruns every day after school for years. Then suddenly, about ten years ago, I couldn't find the show anywhere on the dial. Come to find that the series' broadcasting rights in the U.S. had been acquired by Boomerang.

The Flintstones was groundbreaking in many ways. Among other things, it was the first cartoon series to include a laugh track and story arcs. The show was also revolutionary for its regular inclusion of guest star voices (Tony Curtis, Hoagy Carmichael, Elizabeth Montgomery, and James Darren, among others) and for its acknowledgement of and spoofs of pop culture icons and personalities. These included people like Alfred Hitchcock ("Alvin Brickrock") and Ed Sullivan ("Ed Sullystone") as well as TV and movie characters like James Bond ("James Bondrock") and Perry Mason ("Perry Masonary".) 

The Flintstones also made a point to recognize the current pop culture phenomena taking place, such as the British Invasion ("The Way Outs"), surfing, and even "The Twist" ("Twitch") dance craze.

One of the most unforgettable things about The Flintstones is its music, which incorporated everything from vaudeville tunes, to commercial jingles, to modern pop music. Around the time the first Flintstones movie was released in 1994 (and by the way, how badly did they miss the mark on that one? Thirty-two different writers and that's the best they could do?) I wandered into a long since defunct music store called The Wall and picked up The Flintstones: Modern Stone Age Melodies, which featured many of the most memorable songs from the show's six year run. My personal faves include "Rockin' Bird" (from the episode where Fred becomes singing idol "Hi-Fye") and "Open Up Your Heart and Let the Sunshine In" (which was later covered by the Frente.) 

As a bonus, the album also includes lots of dialog from the show and extra tracks consisting of instrumentals used for the show's transition and chase scenes, and also background music.

I only wish Modern Stage Age Melodies included the two songs Ann Margret performed when she appeared on the show in 1963 (the same year her breakthrough movie Bye Bye Birdie was released) -- "I Ain't Gonna Be Your Fool No More" and "The Littlest Lamb". 

Margret was on Phil Donahue's show many years ago and she fondly recalled her appearance on the The Flintstones. A woman in the studio audience then remarked on what a beautiful song "The Littlest Lamb" was and asked Margret to sing it, but she declined.)

You can download Modern Stone Age Melodies here.

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