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FAQ: Music

I bought a TAGS video the other day and on this tape, the show starts to a different theme. What's up?

What happens is this. Sometimes the episodes copyright expires (16 episodes of TAGS are in public domain) and a video company can make a tape with the episodes with expired copyrights without having to have permission of VIACOM. The theme music has a different copyright and it doesn't expire so the company would have to pay the writer royalties. They don't want to do that so they just replace the theme music with some other music.

What is the name of the song that Andy and Barney are humming when Malcolm joins them on the front porch in "The Return of Malcolm Merriweather?"

We knew to turn to Mayberry trivia fanatic Paul Mulik for this question because he's also a choir director. The hymn is titled "Let the Lower Lights Be Burning" by Philip e Bliss (1838-1876). The first verse and refrain are: Brightly beams our Fathers mercy from his lighthouse evermore/But to us be gives the keeping of the lights along the shore. Refrain: Let the lower fights be burning! Send a gleam across the wave!/Some poor fainting struggling seaman you may rescue, you may save.

You can bet that gospel music lover Andy Griffith Was responsible for selecting this tune for use in the Mayberry scene.

What's the name of the song that Flip Conway, Opie's football coach, played on the piano in Episode 215 "Opie's Piano Lesson?"

The piano piece in question is "Grand Valse Brilliante" by Frederic Chopin.--Paul Mulik

Does Earle Hagen, the composer of The Andy Griffith Show Theme, still be royalties every time the theme song is played?

Not long ago, we got to talking about whether or not Earle Hagen still receives royalty payments every time The Andy Griffith Theme is played (BTW, that is the correct original title, NOT "The Fishin' Hole.") To settle this issue once and for all, I went straight to the source and asked The Maestro himself. Here's what he had to say:

"Composers don't receive royalties but they do get performance money. The difference is that royalties are determined by a guild negotiating re-use payments with the producers. These payments diminish over time by the number of repeat plays of the program. Performance money is paid by the broadcasters who have to secure licenses to perform the music under the copyright laws of the world. It amounts to pennies per minute, but with 3000 shows of all kinds that I have written, it adds up. I'm delighted that you have an interest after all these years." Sincerely, Earle Hagen

Thanks to Earle for taking time to answer that question for us. --Paul Mulik

I heard that Fred Lowery whistled the theme to TAGS. Is that true.

From TAGSRWC founder, Jim Clark: You can nip this rumor in the bud! Fred Lowery was a renowned whistler (perhaps the finest ever), but he may have stretched the truth a little for the sake of a good story. He often whistled the TAGS theme when he performed, but he did not whistle the version that we hear on TAGS itself. That was indeed Earle Hagen. (I asked Earle about the Fred Lowery rumors myself a few year's back, and he set the record straight.) By the way, Fred Lowery wrote a very interesting autobiography called "Whistling in the Dark" (so named because he was blind). --JC

From Paul Mulik: No, composer Earle Hagen whistled it. It was the only thing he ever whistled professionally, except for "Return to Mayberry," when he reprised his earlier performance. People are always telling me that that they remember when "the guy who whistled the Andy Griffith theme song" came and performed at their school in the early 1970s. Whoever those folks saw, I doubt if it was Earle Hagen --probably just some whistler who included the TAGS theme in his own repertoire.

Who was playing the guitar for Jim Lindsey, was it really James Best?

James did NOT play his own songs. James can't play a guitar. James has stated at reunion events that he thought Herb Ellis was the one doing the actual playing of the guitar in those episodes but James wasn't certain.

Earle Hagen was the music director for The Andy Griffith Show and he himself told TAGSRWC's own Paul Mulik that the person playing was Barney Kessel so that's good enough for me. Earle ought to know.