‘M*A*S*H’: Why the Theme Song Was Supposed to Be ‘the 𝕊𝕥𝕦𝕡𝕚𝕕𝕖𝕤𝕥 Song Ever Written’
One of the most famous elements of the MAS*H franchise is its theme music, “𝕊𝕦𝕚𝕔𝕚𝕕𝕖 Is ℙ𝕒𝕚𝕟𝕝𝕖𝕤𝕤.” The song was designed to be “the 𝕊𝕥𝕦𝕡𝕚𝕕𝕖𝕤𝕥 song ever written.” Here’s a look at why that was the case — and why the song for a comedy series is so 𝕕𝕒𝕣𝕜.
The point of ‘𝕊𝕦𝕚𝕔𝕚𝕕𝕖 Is ℙ𝕒𝕚𝕟𝕝𝕖𝕤𝕤’ in the film ‘M*A*S*H’
So why is the theme of MASH called “𝕊𝕦𝕚𝕔𝕚𝕕𝕖 Is ℙ𝕒𝕚𝕟𝕝𝕖𝕤𝕤?” It goes back to the original film. One of the secondary characters is a dentist named Capt. Walter Kosciuszko Waldowski who goes by the nickname The ℙ𝕒𝕚𝕟𝕝𝕖𝕤𝕤 Pole. The ℙ𝕒𝕚𝕟𝕝𝕖𝕤𝕤 Pole is such a 𝕨𝕠𝕞𝕒𝕟𝕚𝕫𝕖𝕣 he 𝕕𝕖𝕔𝕚𝕕𝕖𝕤 he must actually be compensating for being 𝕘𝕒𝕪. He decides living as a 𝕘𝕒𝕪 man is too 𝕕𝕚𝕗𝕗𝕚𝕔𝕦𝕝𝕥, so he wants to 𝕜𝕚𝕝𝕝 himself. This sequence is probably the most dated and offensive element of MASH, as it makes light of 𝕊𝕦𝕚𝕔𝕚𝕕𝕖 among 𝕃𝔾𝔹𝕋 people.
𝔸𝕤 𝕋𝕙𝕖 ℙ𝕒𝕚𝕟𝕝𝕖𝕤𝕤 ℙ𝕠𝕝𝕖 𝕡𝕣𝕖𝕡𝕒𝕣𝕖𝕤 𝕥𝕠 𝕕𝕚𝕖, 𝕠𝕟𝕖 𝕠𝕗 𝕥𝕙𝕖 𝕤𝕠𝕝𝕕𝕚𝕖𝕣𝕤 𝕡𝕝𝕒𝕪𝕤 𝕥𝕙𝕖 𝕤𝕠𝕟𝕘 “𝕊𝕦𝕚𝕔𝕚𝕕𝕖 𝕀𝕤 ℙ𝕒𝕚𝕟𝕝𝕖𝕤𝕤 ” 𝕥𝕠 𝕙𝕚𝕞. 𝕋𝕙𝕖 ℙ𝕒𝕚𝕟𝕝𝕖𝕤𝕤 ℙ𝕠𝕝𝕖 𝕥𝕒𝕜𝕖𝕤 𝕨𝕙𝕒𝕥 𝕙𝕖 𝕓𝕖𝕝𝕚𝕖𝕧𝕖𝕤 𝕚𝕤 𝕒 𝕡𝕠𝕚𝕤𝕠𝕟 𝕡𝕚𝕝𝕝 𝕓𝕦𝕥 𝕚𝕤 𝕒𝕔𝕥𝕦𝕒𝕝𝕝𝕪 𝕒 𝕤𝕝𝕖𝕖𝕡𝕚𝕟𝕘 𝕡𝕚𝕝𝕝. 𝕋𝕙𝕖 𝕥𝕚𝕥𝕝𝕖 𝕠𝕗 “𝕊𝕦𝕚𝕔𝕚𝕕𝕖 𝕀𝕤 ℙ𝕒𝕚𝕟𝕝𝕖𝕤𝕤” 𝕚𝕤 𝕒 𝕔𝕝𝕖𝕒𝕣 𝕣𝕖𝕗𝕖𝕣𝕖𝕟𝕔𝕖 𝕥𝕠 𝕋𝕙𝕖 ℙ𝕒𝕚𝕟𝕝𝕖𝕤𝕤 ℙ𝕠𝕝𝕖. 𝕎𝕙𝕚𝕝𝕖 𝕥𝕙𝕖 𝕗𝕚𝕝𝕞 𝕄𝔸𝕊*ℍ 𝕘𝕒𝕧𝕖 “𝕊𝕦𝕚𝕔𝕚𝕕𝕖 𝕀𝕤 ℙ𝕒𝕚𝕟𝕝𝕖𝕤𝕤” 𝕤𝕠𝕞𝕖 𝕟𝕠𝕥𝕠𝕣𝕚𝕖𝕥𝕪, 𝕚𝕥 𝕨𝕠𝕦𝕝𝕕 𝕓𝕖𝕔𝕠𝕞𝕖 𝕥𝕣𝕦𝕝𝕪 𝕚𝕔𝕠𝕟𝕚𝕔 𝕥𝕙𝕒𝕟𝕜𝕤 𝕥𝕠 𝕥𝕙𝕖 𝕞𝕠𝕧𝕚𝕖’𝕤 𝕤𝕡𝕚𝕟𝕠𝕗𝕗 𝕥𝕖𝕝𝕖𝕧𝕚𝕤𝕚𝕠𝕟 𝕤𝕖𝕣𝕚𝕖𝕤, 𝕨𝕙𝕚𝕔𝕙 𝕦𝕤𝕖𝕕 𝕒𝕟 𝕚𝕟𝕤𝕥𝕣𝕦𝕞𝕖𝕟𝕥𝕒𝕝 𝕧𝕖𝕣𝕤𝕚𝕠𝕟 𝕠𝕗 𝕥𝕙𝕖 𝕥𝕣𝕒𝕔𝕜 𝕒𝕤 𝕒 𝕥𝕙𝕖𝕞𝕖 𝕤𝕠𝕟𝕘.
How a teenager got the chance to write the ‘M*A*S*H’ theme
While “𝕊𝕦𝕚𝕔𝕚𝕕𝕖 Is ℙ𝕒𝕚𝕟𝕝𝕖𝕤𝕤 ” has 𝕕𝕒𝕣𝕜 lyrics, its has a pretty melody. Oddly enough, composer Johnny Mandel told NPR the song was supposed to be 𝕤𝕥𝕦𝕡𝕚𝕕. Why? Director Robert Altman wanted it that way.
“‘It should be the 𝕤𝕥𝕦𝕡𝕚𝕕𝕖𝕤𝕥 song ever written,’” Mandel recalls Altman saying. “I said, ‘Well, I can do 𝕤𝕥𝕦𝕡𝕚𝕕.’ He says, ‘The song should be called ‘𝕊𝕦𝕚𝕔𝕚𝕕𝕖 Is ℙ𝕒𝕚𝕟𝕝𝕖𝕤𝕤 .’”
Altman felt his version of the song was insufficient. Mandel recalled “[Altman] said, ‘Ah, but all is not 𝕝𝕠𝕤𝕥. I’ve got a 15-year-old kid who’s a 𝕘𝕚𝕓𝕓𝕖𝕣𝕚𝕟𝕘 𝕚𝕕𝕚𝕠𝕥. He’s got a guitar. He’ll run through this thing like a dose of salts.’” Ultimately, Altman’s teenage son, Mike Altman, earned $1 million from writing the song. Meanwhile, his father only made $700,000 for directing the film.
How the world reacted to ‘𝕊𝕦𝕚𝕔𝕚𝕕𝕖 Is ℙ𝕒𝕚𝕟𝕝𝕖𝕤𝕤’
According to MeTV, “𝕊𝕦𝕚𝕔𝕚𝕕𝕖 Is ℙ𝕒𝕚𝕟𝕝𝕖𝕤𝕤 ” became a hit, reaching the top of the charts in the United Kingdom. This version of the song was credited to a 𝕗𝕒𝕜𝕖 band called The Mash, which included a number of singers who worked on television shows like Wonder Woman and Happy Days.
“𝕊𝕦𝕚𝕔𝕚𝕕𝕖 𝕀𝕤 ℙ𝕒𝕚𝕟𝕝𝕖𝕤𝕤” is so famous its had a place in pop culture outside of the MAS*H universe. For example, Marilyn Manson covered it for the film Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows. “𝕊𝕦𝕚𝕔𝕚𝕕𝕖 Is ℙ𝕒𝕚𝕟𝕝𝕖𝕤𝕤 ” did pretty well for a song that was designed to be 𝕤𝕥𝕦𝕡𝕚𝕕.