On a day when everybody, and also me, is linking to a clip from the ’60s Batman, the composer of that memorable theme song has died. Neal Hefti (1922-2008) was an arranger, bandleader and composer who composed several of the best-known theme tunes of his era; his theme music for the movie version of The Odd Couple was used for the TV series, and became probably his second most-popular tune. As the obituary notes, the Batman theme was one of the most difficult for him to write, because he needed to come up with something that would convey two things at once: that this show was not to be taken seriously, and that Batman and Robin took themselves and their adventures very seriously. What he came up with was a tune and an arrangement that perfectly captured the two-level appeal of the show; an action-adventure theme and a tongue-in-cheek theme at the same time.
I’m also fond of his very weird surf-rock theme for George Axelrod’s brilliant movie Lord Love a Duck, a vicious satire of teen movies, Southern California and the ’60s in general.