Back in the day, when an instrumental tune became an unexpected hit the next order of business was to see if a lyric could be added to expand the songs recording possibilities–singers, after all, were still where the big money in music was. Neal Hefti’s beautiful theme music for the film (and later TV show) ‘The Odd Couple’ was no exception. When the ‘Odd Couple’ theme became unexpectedly popular, the addition of a lyric seemed like a no-brainer and a certain shoo-in for hit record status. No less than Sammy Cahn was drafted to perform the chore and perform he did, with his usual alacrity. Alas, it wasn’t much of a performance. The problem seems to have been the subject matter–was he writing a song specifically about two male roommates? That might have felt a little…oh, just say it, GAY. Since that was a non-starter for that era (no male singers would have covered it–at least none who had a recording contract), Cahn let the idea of ‘the couple’ stand but didn’t address gender, leaving the listener puzzling over a song that seems to be about a gender-non-specific couple who are…odd. The lyric is best looked at as a kind of thought experiment, a puzzle that Cahn gamely attempted to solve but which defeated him from the outset. The above recording features a wonderful Hefti arrangement. The vocals begin a full minute plus twenty or so seconds in. If you go into your settings and adjust the speed to 1.25x you’ll hear it at the tempo your used to hearing it played on the opening TV credits. Just to be a completist, here (for Cahn’s sins) are the spectacularly unnecessary lyrics to ‘The Odd Couple’.

No matter where they go

They are known as the couple
They’re never seen alone
So they’re known as the couple

As I’ve indicated
They are never quite separated
They are peas in a pod
Don’t you think that it’s odd

Their habits I confess
None can guess with the couple
If one says no it’s yes
more or less with the couple

But they’re laugh provoking
Yet they really don’t know they’re joking
Don’t you find
When love is blind
It’s kind of odd


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