Monday, January 1, 2007

Rich Mendoza Pens Bijou Theme

To say that composer Rich Mendoza has had a very long affiliation with “Matinee at the Bijou” would be quite the understatement. He wrote and produced the theme song for the original series back in 1979! We’re proud and happy to say Rich is still a part of the team and is excited about composing the theme song for the new series premiering in 2007.

Rich Mendoza left Grey Worldwide in 1999, after serving 20 years as VP/Associate Music Director, to open the music production company Amazing Tunes. He’s sung on hundreds of commercials, and his solo vocals include Eastern Airlines, Canon Rebel and Post Great Grains. His advertising and television work have given him the chance to work with everyone from Johnny Cash to The Muppets, Elmer Bernstein to Roger Miller. Rich received a degree in theatre from Union College, and was a member of the BMI Musical Theatre Workshop studying with Lehman Engel. He’s taught songwriting at The New School as well as at Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Ossining, NY.

It occurred to us here at “Bijou is Back” to plumb the depths of Rich’s thought processes in his music and lyric creations, specifically the unique theme songs for the Bijou shows, both new and old. So here goes:

Bijou Bob: "How are you approaching the theme song for Return of Matinee at the Bijou?”

Rich Mendoza: “When I composed “At The Bijou” for the original show, I wanted to write not about the movies as mere entertainment, but as a reflection of the national psyche. That movies of the 30s were largely gaudy, fantasy-filled escapes from our shattered economy and ominous shadows of war, is not an original notion, but writing a song that directly contrasted what was going on in the headlines with what was going on onscreen gave me the chance to have great fun with lines like “There was no bank panic at Tarzan’s branch.” My premise was summed up in the couplet “At The Bijou bitter gall became as sweet as brandy, and humble pie turned into cotton candy."

"When I discovered that the new show would start moving into films of the post WWII years, it occurred to me that movies of that era played a very different role in the national consciousness. With the world safe for democracy, God on our side, and unheard of affluence, the American Dream, whatever that might be, was within reach. But what would The American Dream look like? Whether in films with a social conscience or the fluffiest of the Doris Day/Rock Hudson movies, I think something serious was going on. Blueprints were being drawn, maps filled in, an ongoing dialogue was engaged in, for designing our evolving Utopia. Perhaps even an attempt to preserve the fruits of our labors before the worm, (even in Arcadia) could corrupt them.

"I want to write a ballad that reflects some of that transition while at the same time sounding like we might have found a song that was written in the 50s (maybe was the flip side of Tammy) ...a song which might have had one meaning then, but takes on a layer of irony 50 years later."

Bijou Bob: I'm sure our fans won't be disappointed. Thanks, Rich.

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