In the '80s, American sitcoms usually had long theme songs that introduced the shows. They were usually peppy tunes to keep the viewers amused over the opening credits and were sometimes very bad. The show Cheers was a very smart comedy, and the show's producers wanted a more adult theme that would reflect the depth of the characters who congregate in the Boston bar where the show was set. This song did the trick, capturing the very reason why people go to their local taverns: to be with friends who understand them (OK, some people go to get drunk, but not at Cheers).
This was written by Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo. As Portnoy details on his website, he was an out-of-work songwriter and Judy had never written a song, but they got together to write the score for a musical called Preppies. This got the attention of the Cheers producers, and after their first few attempts were rejected, Gary started playing around on his keyboard like someone who was at a bar late at night and in a sad mood. This gave them the melody and the words started to come. The big breakthrough came with the line, "Sometimes you wanna go," which eventually led to "Where everybody knows your name."
The Cheers producers liked the intimate feel of Portnoy's demo, but considered bringing in someone famous to record the song. They decided to go with Gary, and made sure the arrangement stayed simple.
When Cheers went on the air, the show tanked in the ratings, but NBC had lots of requests for the sheet music and recording of the song. To satisfy demand, Portnoy was brought back to the studio to record a full version of the song that was released as a single and got some airplay. Eventually, the show found an audience and stayed on the air until 1993. The full version of the song is pretty funny, including the lyric, "And your husband wants to be a girl..."
In response to our question, "Did you have any trouble getting existing TV themes out of your head in order to write something completely different?" Gary Portnoy writes: "Cheers was the first TV theme I ever co-wrote. Coming from a background as a pop songwriter - as opposed to say, a jingle writer - I approached the Cheers theme - and all that followed - as 'songs' rather than 'themes.' I was never that cognizant of how long they ran until we were done with the writing. Most were born as full length songs that were than edited down to a minute. I never had to clear my head of past TV themes because I was never really thinking in that vein while we were working."
This was used in commercials for Diet Dr. Pepper. The idea was that the soda was so decadent that it belonged in the supermarket with the sweets.
Portnoy released his original demo of "Where Everybody Knows Your Name" on his 2010 album Songs Along The Way.
Leonardo DiCaprio is a high-profile fan of this song. When he appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine in 2010, he said: "What is the Ninth Symphony of '80s sitcom theme songs? There's 'Movin' On Up,' and there's 'Welcome Back.' But they don't have the weight that Cheers does, the emotional depth, the undercurrent of sadness, life, happiness, all rolled into one area where a man can have a beer." DiCaprio knows a bit about '80s sitcoms, as he appeared on the show Growing Pains.
In 2011, this was used in commercials for State Farm insurance, using the song to tout their personal service.
In 2014, it appeared in an ad for the Chevy Cruze, playing when a regular customer enters a gas station. This guy is greeted by name like Norm on Cheers, and he then proceeds to purchase gas. When the Cruze owner walks in, he's a stranger, since his vehicle gets far better mileage.
In 2017, it was used in a commercial for Michelob ULTRA that aired during the Super Bowl. In this one, a group of Crossfit types go through their workouts and then enjoy some beers in good company.
Camille from Toronto, OhPerfect theme song for a well written and well acted hit TV show. The tune flows so well with the chorus. This is one of those universal songs that everyone can sing a little bit of, and can relate a lot to.
Budoshi from Sandnessjøen, NorwayI just love this tune..:D It was perfect as a stand-alone song, and perfect for the show