There are some songs that–by their very nature–make you smile. There are some songs that conjure happy memories. This one does both.
The Banana Splits Show theme (aka “The Tra La La Song”), besides all the happy memories of summers long passed, is another one of those simple songs that through its bright melody and hum-able lyrics just exudes the kind of emotions that remind me of childhood innocence and seemingly endless playtime.
The Banana Splits were born of that late-60s, Sid & Marty Kroft school of children’s entertainment that defined the late Baby Boomers and early GenXers’ childhoods through reruns on syndicated television. My dad remembers watching it as a kid, and I was first exposed to it during a New Years Eve marathon on TBS in the late 80s or (very) early 90s. The Kroft-designed sets and costumes were odd and certainly outdated by my sensibilities, but I really got into the Hanna-Barbera cartoon shorts that made up the bulk of the show. The Arabian Nights and The Three Musketeers stories fit in well with my fandom of adventure series like Johnny Quest, The Pirates of Dark Water, and DuckTales, and the Danger Island serial was one of the very few live-action programs I had interest in at the time. (Live action, to me, was “adult” television–boring programs like “the news” or As The World Turns.)
Liz Phair and Material Issue deliver a brilliant cover of the old theme, adding some depth and a little bit of edginess to the clean-cut, inoffensive instrumentation and cheery elementary sing-along vocals of the original. Dig it deep!