Michigan Replay Is Funky

Submitted by Brian on August 22nd, 2006 at 1:20 PM

It never occurred to me to think the opening music of Michigan Replay strange. By the time I understood things like music and the 70s*, the Michigan Replay theme was so familiar I couldn't possibly evaluate it as anything other than what it was. It existed outside of time and context. I suppose I assumed that it had come from some discarded CD somewhere, its licensing fee a pittance to some obscure artist probably related to a member of the athletic department.

So it came as a shock to me when helpful reader Daniel Young -- now enshrined in the Reader Hall of Fame next to Penn State Guy Who Hates Me Guy and Guy Who Patiently Explains How To Spell "LeSueur" Whenever I Screw It Up Which Is Always Guy -- tracked down the entire, unedited song and emailed it to me. Strip away the state-of-the-art video highlight montage and listen to the blaring horns by their lonesome and like whoah. Cognitive dissonance, man. The Michigan Replay theme is funky. Not like white-boy funky. The kind of funk that alerts Orson to the presence of knee-buckling badonkadonk. Pam Grier funky.

Now that I've heard the thing in its natural habitat and arrived at the inescapable conclusion that it's more appropriate for "Blackula" or "Black Frankenstein" or, I dunno, "Black To The Future" than a couple of stodgy old crackers muttering about the latest football game, I can never go back. The incongruity is too much. Forever and anon the opening credits of Michigan Replay will cause girlish giggles unless we lose, in which case they will provoke nothing until my emotions re-engage sometime around Tuesday.

Here it is; the bits you might recognize kick in after about 35 seconds.

(You can download the file here; right click & "save as")

The reason the song is reminiscent of something Shaft could saunter to is simple: it's from an honest-to-god blaxploitation flick. As Mr. Young writes:

I've scoured the end credits on many occasions, but have yet to find any reference as to where the theme music comes from. Fortunately, I have a friend who's big into old school funk ... he was able to unearth the source of the Michigan Replay theme. It's a cut off the soundtrack to the 1972 blaxploitation flick Across 110th Street called (appropriately) "Across 110th Street Instrumental" by JJ Johnson & His Orchestra. How it ended up as the uncredited theme to Michigan Replay is anybody's guess (maybe Bo was big into funk back in the day).

I'm not sure if the instrumental is the same music as the identically-named title track that, according to Pop Matters, is part of the film's enduring cachet...

Like its cinematic compatriots, Shaft (1971), Trouble Man (1972), and Car Wash (1976), Across 110th Street owes much of its notoriety to a memorable theme song. Written by Bobby Womack and J.J. Johnson and performed by Womack, "Across 110th Street" is a majestic soul-funk classic in its radio incarnation -- perhaps appropriately, the film itself presents a more downbeat version over its opening credits -- and one of the best of that era's numerous musical chronicles of inner-city pain. (Womack's single has since received further exposure from its somewhat incongruous use in Quentin Tarantino's 1997 L.A. noir, Jackie Brown.)

...but I damn well hope so, because when you think "majestic soul-funk," you think Michigan Football.

I personally owe Mr. Young even a bit more, because listening to the MP3 over and over -- and over -- triggered that pulse-quickening realization that was late in coming this year: football. FOOTBALL.

Let's git it aawwwwwn.

*(As much as anyone can possibly understand an era when lime-green corduroys seemed like a good idea.)

Comments

tk47

September 28th, 2010 at 4:41 PM ^

I was just talking to somebody at the BGSU game this past Saturday about why they got rid of the old Michigan Replay music when Rodriguez came in and the show morphed into "Inside Michigan Football". 

I used to goddamn love that Michigan Replay song, and I'm just curious as to why they really did get rid of it (did RR not like it, did somebody just decide it was time for a change/update, etc.).  If it was because somebody just arbitrarily decided it was time for an update, I owe that person a kick to the head, because that music had become as much a part of Michigan Football to me as anything else.  Any info on this would be appreciated.

P.S. Woooooooooooo this post is >4 years old and I'm the first to comment on it

formerlyanonymous

September 28th, 2010 at 9:14 PM ^

There was a brief period right after the switch to the newer mgoblog where anonymous commenting was possible, but it was set to never show up as to avoid anonymous trolls. The "anonymous coward" option was removed shortly thereafter.

/mgoblog-history-lesson

Sunday Morning Theme Song
Anonymous Coward

I sure would have missed hearing this theme song every Sunday morning!!  I've watched Michigan Replay for over 25 years and every Sunday would crank it up when the credits started to roll.  Thank you for having it available...at least I will be able to still crank it up for my Sunday Michigan Replay fix!!

GO BLUE!!

August 14th, 2008 at 11:09 AM

Edward Khil

September 28th, 2010 at 11:12 PM ^

Someone out there knows why "Across 110th Street Instrumental" was selected as the theme music for Michigan Replay.  It is such an iconic piece of Michigan history.  Dispatch the roving cub reporter to ferret out the broadcasting genius responsible.  (My money's on Fred Silverman.)