First Hit #1: May 8, 1976
I knew this was a TV theme within one line, even though I’ve never actually watched Welcome Back, Kotter. If it wasn’t a TV theme, this space would be lamenting the wasted opportunity, because it’s perfect for the role. The main reason is it’s a comfortable song. Like Thank You For Being A Friend or Where Everybody Knows Your Name, it’s a song with a certain lived in quality, like a nice old sweater or a sitcom about a teacher going back to his old alma mater and living and learning with John Travolta. It’s comfortable, it’s warm, it’s reassuring in a weird way, it calls up warm and fuzzy memories of a group that you hang out with every week and laugh with. Many sitcoms have this friendly quality, and this song prepares you for the fun you will hopefully have in the next half hour.
Right down to the oft-repeated title, Welcome Back is about preparing you for a nice time with some people you presumably love. It also owes a massive debt to Randy Newman, not so much in the lyrics but in the delivery. It’s a pretty good song, and it’s the ideal way to open a sitcom.