by Julian Spivey
Craig Ferguson’s installment of the “Late, Late Show” comes to an end tonight and will leave a gaping hole in the art form of late night television because nobody does late night TV like Ferguson with his special, one-of-a-kind brand of absurdist, “I-don’t-give-a-damn” comedy. There literally were no templates or boundaries for Ferguson’s show, which ends after 10 great years on CBS, as he took the nonchalant wit of David Letterman and furthered upon it to create something all his own.
While many of us are truly going to miss Ferguson’s style of late night television and many are writing tributes to him in honor of this fantastic bit of television coming to an end, one thing is often being forgotten. When Ferguson’s show ends late tonight, actually early tomorrow morning, with it goes one of the all-time great theme songs.
First of all, the theme for Ferguson’s show is incredibly unique in that it has lyrics, unlike any other late night show on television. In fact, I’m not sure there’s ever been a late night talk show with a theme that sported lyrics.
The theme perfectly encapsulates everything that is great about Ferguson’s show – it’s funny with a smidge of absurdity and showcases Ferguson’s musical talents. Many don’t know this, but Ferguson was in a Scottish punk band in the early ‘80s called The Bastards from Hell, which later became the Dreamboys. Ferguson played drums in the band, as he does during the theme video, and the group featured “Doctor Who” star Peter Capaldi as its vocalist.
Ferguson co-wrote and recorded the theme song when he got the gig as host of the “Late, Late Show” after Craig Kilborn left in 2004. The song is incredibly catchy and just as infectious as Ferguson’s personality. I don’t believe it ever gets the credit it deserves as one of the truly great television theme songs of all-time, probably because it’s featured on a late night show that’s always sort of had a cult following. Many probably don’t realize the song has a longer version than the one you hear on the show. This version, which is well worth a listen, is almost three minutes in length and includes an extended instrumental solo.
One of my favorite things about Ferguson’s theme is that it’s undergone different variations over the years during special episodes or weeks. For instance when Ferguson did a week of shows from his home country Scotland in 2012 a Glasgow-based band called The Imagineers performed the theme for a week. However, I do prefer the song as sung by Ferguson, which is why my favorite performance of his theme was the one he recorded in 2011 when he did an entire week of shows in Paris. This theme has Ferguson doing it in more of a cool lounge singer performance accompanied by piano and upright bass.
There are so many things about Ferguson’s tenure on ‘Late, Late Show’ that I’m going to miss and the theme song goes right to the top of that list. Now that I think of it I believe the greatest thing about the theme song is it’s hopefulness of something strange, new and exhilarating about to take place for an hour of your night after a long, hard day.