I'll Be There For You

Album: LP (1995)
Charted: 3 17
Play Video


  • This was the theme song of the TV show Friends, which went on the air in 1994 and quickly became a ratings powerhouse. The theme was written by the songwriters Allee Willis and Michael Skloff. Says Willis: "I had seen the pilot, and that one line ('I'll Be There For You') had been given to me by Michael Skloff, who had started on the music, and it was just supposed to be about the loyalty of friends. That no matter how screwed up your life was, I'll be there for you."
  • It is fairly rare for a TV show theme song to become a hit. The themes usually sound great for the 30 seconds they are on the air, but make terrible full length songs. This was an exception, as the popularity of the show exposed the theme to a mass audience that loved the incredibly catchy tune, and soon there was demand for a full-length version of the theme. Says Willis: "It was never, ever to this day released as a single. It was just DJs who made a cassette of the song and just started playing it. And it became the #1 airplay record of the year, but the Rembrandts never wanted it out as a single because they didn't write the song. So they kind of bit off their nose to spite their face. At that point, the only way they could get the Rembrandts to do the record was if they got songwriting credit. So the song needed a bridge, and it needed a second verse lyric, and they wrote that. They don't have credit on the theme, but they have it on the record."
  • This song's success did a great deal to help promote the show, as the constant radio play provided great, free advertising for the series. You would think that TV producers would follow this formula and put more effort into their theme songs, but just the opposite happened: TV theme songs began disappearing as producers demanded more time for show content and didn't want to pay to create original songs. This was the last TV theme that was made into a hit song - at least in America. In the UK, "Boss Of Me" and "Can We Fix It?" made the charts.
  • Allee Willis was exploring social networks and innovative uses for the Internet in the early '90s, and became frustrated when the music industry refused to change, clinging to the same methods they've always used despite the emerging technology. She partnered with Mark Cuban and Prudence Fenton, but record companies wouldn't bite on their ideas. Says Willis: "I realized I had to get out of my publishing deal, because it wasn't even fair to who I was co-writing with at that point - I wouldn't even hang around for the demo. I was so uninterested in that form of music. I was signed to Warner/Chappell at that time, who incidentally were the company that listened the least, because they had me right under their nose. And every time I thought I had written the number of songs for my quota, they kept saying, 'Well, you may have only written the song with two people, but there are nine people's names on the label.' Because that would happen a lot when you wrote with groups. So I owed a seventh of a song. And they said, 'There's this TV show, it's on the air in 3 weeks, they just decided they want a theme song, if you write this theme song we will let you out of the deal.' Kevin Bright, who was one of the producers of Friends had been a mentor of mine when I started directing in the early '90s, which I didn't do a lot of. But he was the one who kind of shepherded my career. He said to them, 'We need someone who's very kooky, but commercial.' And as soon as someone said the word 'kooky' I would get the gig. So I co-wrote that song, I wrote it very, very fast, most of the music was there but it was only a 60-second piece at that point. I got out of the deal, and the song exploded."
  • The audience for Friends was very white, which reflected the actors and the themes of the show. Odd then, that the woman who co-wrote the theme also wrote hits for Earth, Wind & Fire and worked on the musical adaptation of The Color Purple. Allee Willis explains: "It was the last thing I ever thought would be a hit, the whitest song I ever wrote. I'm very, very grateful for it, and when they were promoting The Color Purple, all of these newspaper reviews, I mean, here I've written for Earth, Wind & Fire, I've written with James Brown. And the only song they would ever mention that I wrote is this Friends theme. Could any song prepare you less to write The Color Purple? But I actually loved it, because it's that incongruity that I cherish the most in what I do." (Read more in the Allee Willis interview, and at her website: alleewillis.com.)
  • The Rembrandts are guitar players Danny Wilde and Phil Solem. They had some success since their first album was released in 1990, but they are best known for this song, which isn't typical of their work. They recorded the song because they were the only group signed to Warner Brothers who was available, and since Warner Brothers owned Friends, they made sure the theme was written by their publishing company (Warner/Chappell) and recorded by one of their artists.
  • This was a last minute addition to the album. It was not released as a single until long after radio stations started playing it constantly. It boosted album sales considerably, as fans had to buy the whole album to get the song.
  • This was included on the album Friends: Music From The TV Series. There is a short version that runs 53 seconds along with the full-length version, which is 3:08.
  • A dance remake by Thor-El Harrison was released on another Friends soundtrack called Friends Again, which came out in 1999.
  • Random trivia about this song:

    In the line, "Your love life's D.O.A.," D.O.A. stands for "Dead On Arrival."

    The clapping part after the first line is just four claps.
  • To mark the 20th anniversary of the Friends premiere, a temporary coffee shop was erected in New York modeled after Central Perk, the shop where much of the show was set. For the opening on September 16, 2014, Danny Wilde and Phil Solem of The Rembrandts got back together to perform this song, joined by James Michael Tyler, who played the shop's owner Gunther on the show.
  • The iconic Friends title sequences had the six main actors and actresses splashing around a mock-up of a fountain in New York City's Central Park as the song played. It turns out the cast hated both the theme tune and fountain dancing. "No one was really a big fan of that theme song," Jennifer Aniston told BBC's The One Show. "We felt it was a little, I don't know, dancing in a pond. A fountain felt sort of odd, but we did it."
  • According to Danny Wilde, the show's executive producer Kevin S. Bright wanted a melody similar to R.E.M.'s "It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)," which was used as a placeholder theme for the pilot episode Bright sent the duo. (Although this original opening uses the band's "Shiny Happy People.")
  • The Rembrandts were surprised to hear the now-famous hand-clapping in the mix, which was added at the last minute. "We thought we were all done, and then, we went in to hear the final mix and the clapping was in there," Phil Solem recalled to Buzzfeed in 2014. "I was like, Who thought of that? That's like the best part!"

    The show's creators wanted to be included in the song, so they performed the claps - or at least tried to. "Kevin Bright, Marta Kauffman, and David Crane wanted to be part of the record so they wanted to try the clapping part," Solem explained. "Oh my god. All they had to do was go clap, clap, clap, clap. And it was like, 'Take 25!'"
  • The Rembrandts initially wrote a different verse and bridge in a darker tone that suited the rest of their album, but it was deemed too dark for Friends and was scrapped completely.
  • The Friends cast joined the Rembrandts in the music video, which was shot over a three-day period on Saturday Night Live's Rockefeller Center stage. The original premise was supposed to have the cast sneaking their way into a Rembrandts concert with some frozen fish they use as weapons to knock the duo out. Not surprisingly, the actors weren't fans of the concept and settled for pretending to play instruments alongside the band.

Comments: 23

  • Paul Osman from Liverpool, England This song is very similar to "Pleasant Valley Sunday" by the Monkees, written by Goffin and King. The intro identical to that of PVS, although a slightly different tune there are similarities
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyPer: www.legacy.com {12-25-2019}
    Allee Willis, songwriter who was nominated for an Emmy Award for writing the theme song to 'Friends', “I’ll Be There for You"*, passed away at the age of 72 on December 24th, 2019 in a Los Angeles-area hospital...
    She worked with Earth, Wind & Fire frequently, co-writing their hits including “September,” “Boogie Wonderland,” and “In the Stone.” Willis won two Grammy Awards, one for co-writing the music and lyrics for the stage adaptation of “The Color Purple,” and the other for her work for the “Beverly Hills Cop” soundtrack, for which she co-wrote the Pointer Sisters’ “Neutron Dance” and Patti LaBelle’s “Stir it Up.” Her other notable songwriting credits include the Pet Shop Boys’ “What Have I Done to Deserve This” and Bonnie Raitt’s “Got You on My Mind.” She was a 2018 inductee to the Songwriters Hall of Fame...
    May she R.I.P.
    * On October 1st, 1995 "I'll Be There For You" by the Rembrandts peaked at #17 {for 3 weeks} on Billboard's Top 100 chart...
    And on July 2nd, 1995 it reached #1 {for 7 weeks} on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart...
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn September 22nd 1994, the 30-minute sitcom, 'Friends', debut the NBC-TV network...
    The series ran for ten seasons with a grand total of 236 original episodes...
    One year and two days later on September 24th, 1995 the show's theme song, "I'll Be There For You" by the Rembrandts, entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at #18, and surprisingly the following week it peaked at only one position higher at #17 {for 3 weeks} and spent a total of 20 weeks on the Top 100...
    The duo had three other records make the Top 100 chart; "Just the Way It Is, Baby" {peaked at #14 in 1990}, "Someone" {reached #78 in 1991}, and "Johnny Have You Seen Her" {topped out at #54 in 1992}.
  • Esskayess from Dallas, TxThis show was the sort that I always avoided, then I stumbled upon it in syndication and was hooked. It was anything but “below average,” especially in the writing department, and maintained its quality right to the end, unlike another three other long-lived powerhouse sitcoms that decidedly jumped the shark, M*A*S*H, Frasier and Home Improvement.
  • Willie from Scottsdale, AzAverage song for a below-average TV show. Hmmm...a show about friends living in apartments in New York...one is a neat freak, one is neurotic, one is overly honest and can't hold down a boyfriend, and one is just "kooky." I liked it better the first time...when it was called "Seinfeld."
  • Jasper from Nieuwegein, NetherlandsWhen I either see a fragment of FRIENDS, the intro of FRIENDS, or hear this song, I instantly become happy... :D
  • Nikita from Drogheda, IrelandI watch Friends 24/7, and practically know this song inside and out, in and around, and head to tail
  • Frank from Granchester Meadows, GreenlandI'm in agreement with everyone who posted 'great song' -----if fit so perfectly with the sitcom too.
  • Chris from Charleston, ScThis song is in the style of the Beatles if you listen closely, including guitar licks, and harmonization.
  • Bobsaget from Bellville, SdThis is a catchy song. It's pretty much the best theme song ever.
  • Caitlin from Upper Township, Njllove it! this is me and my friend's song. i absolutely love Friends, too!
  • Michelle from Darlington, EnglandLove this song! It has a lot of meaning behind the song. "When it hasn't beeen your day, your week or even your year, i'll be there for you". The words are fantastic and every friendship should be like what it says in the words. Do you agree?
  • Karolina from Praszka, PolandThe best song ever!!!!! This song descibe feelings beetwen Rachel, Chandler, Monica, Ross, Phoebe and Joey!! This song is incredible!!!

    -Karolina, Praszka, POLAND
  • Amandass from Buckley, WaThis is one of the most annoying songs ever.
  • Kevin from New York, NyCool song!!Played at grad nite!!
  • Kelly from Burbank, CaI think another example of a song that hit it big after it was played as a theme song to a show was "California" by Phantom Planet, which is the theme to the OC. Also, it was another song that was good the entire song, not just the 30 seconds you heard it.
  • Nicola from London, EnglandThis song is all about friends and friendships. Being together, supporting each other. Through the good times, as well as the bad times. And being loyal to your friends (especially best friends)
  • Adele from Victoria, CanadaFriends simply would not be the same without it...
  • Patrick from Wahiawa, HiNameless(brainless? clueless?)American TV executives were on the verge of doing away with ALL theme songs when this song hit the big time. So, this group (and song) deserve some respect for keeping theme music alive on U.S. television. (Imagine "Joan of Arcadia" without Joan Osborne's "One of Us" or "CSI" without "Who Are You"?)
  • Kei from Salem, Or This song really ain't that good. Their minor hit from 1991, "Just The Way It Is Baby", was a much better song.
  • Hiedi from Lulea, SwedenWhat a great song! i just love the way they use descriptive words and figurative language. It really makes you want a friendship like the one in the song!
  • Madison from London, EnglandI wish I had a friendship like the one they talk about. A friendship that stays together through everything, through the good and the bad. A friendshhip were they are always there to support one another.
  • Alexia from Sydney, AustraliaI think this song is a great example of a relationship between two friends.
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