Wednesday, August 24, 2011

30 Songs, 30 Days, Day Twenty Five: The Amazing Chan And The Chan Clan by Don Kirshner (?)

This is the sort of thing you don't see in Saturday Morning
Cartoons anymore..wait a don't see Saturday
Morning cartoons anymore!
Hey, first thing that comes out of the Sansa, right?

This is the theme song for the 1972 Hanna Barbera cartoon series of the same name--and, as with so many of these shows of the time, it followed the Scooby Doo formula that H-B found so successful. Namely, there was a group of kids (and a family pet) running around in a van solving crimes when they weren't rocking out as members of a rock group. What made this series unique was that it was ostensively based on the Charlie Chan series of novels by Earl Derr Biggers, and it was arguably the first American cartoon series to feature a primarily Asian cast. Now granted, I can see H-B deciding to do this project because this was the early 70's, which means there was a whole movement (ultimately manifested by Action For Children's Television) that tried to make children's television more culturally sensitive, but it still was pretty wild to see people who didn't look like me not being the sidekicks but starring in their own cartoon series when I was a kiddie-winkie of eight years. Hell, H-B was so sensitive to making sure the Chan children were good role models they recast most of the voices because the original actors apparently affected thick 'Chinese' accents.

Oh--incidentally, you know who provided the voice for Anne, the tomboyish Chan girl? One Jodie Foster, who went on to become a great actress and LiLF.

I have no idea what's going on in this still....
As for the song itself...I've ascribed it to Don Kirshner, who was the musical supervisor for this show (as he was for Filmation's Archie family of cartoons, and The Monkees before it), but I guess we may never know who wrote this kinda cool, kinda jazzy little number. And, quite frankly, I dig it. It doesn't overdo the ethnicity, although it is there (that chopstick-y plinking of the piano keys at moments), and it's definitely a sort of light rock aesthetic going for it. Add in the whispery voice repeating the cartoon's title, and you've got a prime example of the 70's cartoon theme song aesthetic. This is the sort of crazy cool music you got exposed to on Saturday morning TV back in the day, before theme songs got loud and shouty and obtrusive on your frontal lobe.

Here's the title sequence for you to enjoy...

Oh--and is it just me, or is that drum set far too small for that guy?

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