Q. What is the music you play at the beginning of every hour on your radio show?
A. This may seem like a self-reflexive, trivial matter, unrelated to eating or drinking. But I really am asked this several times a week by listeners to my Food Show. It’s usually prefaced by, “It’s driving me nuts, because it’s familiar, but I can’t think of what it is!” So here is too much information about it:
Holiday For Strings was the first big hit for David Rose, a London-born American composer, arranger, and conductor of his own namesake orchestra from the 1930s into the 1980s. The tune became his signature, so distinctive that it was recorded by an astonishing array of musicians, ranging from Glenn Miller to Spike Jones. The version I use was recorded in 1955, performed by Rose’s band and made familiar as the theme music for the Red Skelton television (but not radio!) show, from the 1950s into the 1970s. An earlier version can be heard here.
Rose was one of the most active composers on network radio during its Golden Age,
and then became the leading creator of theme music for early television. He wrote the music for Bonanza, Little House On The Prairie, Sea Hunt, Highway Patrol, and many others. He also wrote a lot of movie music, and had a few pop instrumental hits on his own–notably The Stripper.
Interesting guy. He was married first to Martha Raye and then Judy Garland. He built a miniature railroad with a live steam locomotive in his back yard.
I have used Holiday For Strings as The Food Show’s theme since 1995. Before that, the theme was Henry Mancini’s Mr. Lucky for seven years. And before that–going all the way back to my first radio show in 1978–the theme was Goodbye, Columbus, recorded by The Association. I revive that on the show’s anniversary and on Columbus Day every year. And here you were thinking I put no thought into my program!
While this subject is open, I’d better add that for the past year I have ended the show with a delicious performance of Li’l Darlin’ by the incomparable Count Basie Big Band. Questions about that one are as frequent as about Holiday For Strings.