RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Walt Whitman may have heard America singing, but it was nothing like the cacophony playing in the heads of Ally McBeal fans. Whitman's mechanics, shoemakers and young wives were no match for the followers of Fox's hit TV show.
In the March 9 episode, Theme of Life, Tracy Ullman's character, Dr. Tracy Clark, suggested that Ally choose a theme song to help her through life's rough spots. Ally chose Tell Him, a 1962 hit by the Exciters.
If that wasn't enough, Ullman recommended that Ally think of the Pips of Gladys Knight fame singing behind her.
Judging by a random sampling of viewers, and by the Oprah Winfrey show, the idea is catching on. Oprah opened a recent show by asking audience members what their personal theme songs were. I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor and I'm Walking on Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves were two favorites.
Another favorite among women, You Don't Own Me by Lesley Gore, is the theme song for the movie The First Wives' Club.
That's the song selected by Liz Thomas, 23, who works in a U.S. senator's office on Capitol Hill.
"I think it's sort of a silly song, but it's pretty much about being a strong woman: You don't own me, I can do what I want," she says.
Of the Pips, she's not sure.
"Imagining them behind me might make me start laughing, which would not help my situation out."
Nancy Schwartz, 27, of Cary, N.C., has two theme songs: Here I Go Again on My Own by Whitesnake and I Get Up Again Over and Over by Madonna.
Schwartz says she didn't think of them as her theme songs until the subject came up on Ally McBeal and she recognized herself.
"I'm like, that's what I have. They're my theme songs."
Jeffrey Kramer, co-executive producer of Ally McBeal and president of David E. Kelley Productions, says Kelley didn't know of anyone who had a theme song before he wrote that episode.
Ideas like theme songs "pop up" for Kelley, Kramer says.
"He thinks of them before they happen. He's prescient."
Theme songs are perfect for the show, which almost always includes a scene in a bar where Vonda Shepard sings, Kramer says.
"The music is really an emotional underscore for the show."
His theme song changes daily. On this day he was singing "Grey skies are gonna clear up, put on a happy face."
It appears to be mostly a woman thing; few men admit to having a theme song. One who does is Gregg Fishbein, 34, a Minneapolis lawyer.
Fishbein's song is Paradise by the Dashboard Lights by Meat Loaf. Like Schwartz, he didn't think of it as his theme song until he watched Ally McBeal.
"Generally, I listen to it on the way to work if I know I'm going to have a particularly difficult day," he says. "It's a song that motivates."
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