The Man Behind The 'Morning Edition' Theme Music. Also, Lyrics!

Nov 6, 2014
Originally published on November 6, 2014 2:26 pm

Morning Edition is celebrating its 35th anniversary this week.

Over the years, many stories, voices and sounds have come and gone on the show. But there has remained one constant — our theme music.

The Morning Edition theme was written by BJ Leiderman in 1979. At the time, he was a struggling college student who wrote jingles on the side. He gave a demo tape of his music to a friend who worked at NPR.

On that tape was one little musical phrase that eventually became the Morning Edition theme music.

After it was selected, Leiderman wrote lyrics to accompany his little ditty:

Oh I hate to get up in the morning

Please don't wake me up this morning

Let me stay in bed ... and ... sleep (I don't like to daydream)

The world can turn without me today

And if you wake me up I can say

That we will not be friends ... for ... long

Remember when ... we used to sleep forever?

Dreams ... floating as light as feathers

When ... will those delightful dreams

Come back again?

Tell me when!!!

For crying out loud, please would you shut up

No news, no features, I've had enough ...

But, say, who wrote your great ... theme ... song???

Since that time, Leiderman has composed many other public radio classics. He has written themes for Weekend Edition, Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!, Car Talk and Marketplace.

Next year, he'll release his first album. It's called Natural Public Leiderman.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Through all the changes of those elections one thing has remained constant - a bit of music that we've heard on this program since its debut 35 years ago this week.

That's the MORNING EDITION theme song and this morning we have its biography. BJ Leiderman wrote this song in 1979. At the time, he was a jingle writer who also attended college.

(SOUNDBITE OF MORNING EDITION THEME SONG)

(SOUNDBITE OF MORNING EDITION THEME SONG)

BJ LEIDERMAN: I was minding my own business, flunking out of American University, studying broadcast journalism.

INSKEEP: Then he gave a demo tape of his music to a friend who worked at NPR. That tape included a musical phrase that eventually became the MORNING EDITION theme.

LEIDERMAN: I did it on this little crummy pseudo-organ, but this thing had a cheesy string sound, a piano sound, a cheesy French horn sound so I started with...

(SOUNDBITE OF MORNING EDITION THEME SONG, PIANO VERSION)

LEIDERMAN: You know, it has to be, to me, something that's memorable. As a jingle writer, I want to bang it into people's heads the first time.

(SOUNDBITE OF MORNING EDITION THEME SONG, PIANO VERSION)

LEIDERMAN: And something you could possibly sing and of course, you know by now, there are cheesy lyrics that I wrote to this thing.

(SOUNDBITE OF MORNING EDITION THEME SONG, PIANO VERSION)

LEIDERMAN: (Singing) Oh, I hate to get up in the morning. Please don't wake me up this morning. Let me stay in bed and sleep.

INSKEEP: Over the years there have been many variations on this MORNING EDITION jingle.

(SOUNDBITE OF MORNING EDITION THEME SONG, CHICAGO STYLE VERSION)

INSKEEP: Chicago.

(SOUNDBITE OF MORNING EDITION THEME SONG, JAZZY VERSION)

INSKEEP: Jazzy.

(SOUNDBITE OF MORNING EDITION THEME SONG, PLAYER PIANO VERSION)

INSKEEP: Player piano.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: One, two, go.

(SOUNDBITE OF MORNING EDITION THEME SONG, ACCORDION VERSION)

LEIDERMAN: My 15 minutes of music has taken me way past my 15 minutes of, you know, what do you call it - fame - and I guess one of the things I can sort of pat myself on the back about - it hasn't gotten me any new jobs for me and that reason is because my stuff has, what they call in the business, legs; it just wears well.

INSKEEP: That's composer BJ Leiderman. He gets credit or responsibility for other public radio tunes you cannot get out of your head, such as those for Weekend Edition, Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me! and Marketplace. Next year he releases his first album called "Natural Public Leiderman."

This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.