Sunday, March 15, 2009
Ren, Stimpy and Howlin’ Wolf
Recently when I was working on musical tracks for a couple of Microsoft spots I created, my sound designer, (who happens to be my brother as well) came across an interesting piece of music. Whenever I start a project I begin by finding pieces of music to give to him for inspiration, much like when a client comes to me with an idea of what they are looking for. One thing I hear all the time is; “We want it to feel like the Esurance commercials.” In this case for the Microsoft spots I wanted them to have a 1950’s/early 60’s sound. Leave it to Beaver and The Andy Griffith Show, meets Ren and Stimpy is what I asked him for. A week or two later he got back to me with a song from Howlin’ Wolf, titled Killing Floor, which we both immediately realized had to be the inspiration for the Ren and Stimpy theme song. I then decided to try and find out who wrote the theme song. Finding the composer proved to be more difficult than I thought it would be. There seems to be a lot of mystery surrounding the Dog Pound Hop theme used in the original Ren & Stimpy show. Some sources credit just Jim Smith with the theme while others quote Scott Huml, John Kricfalusi and Chris Reccardi as well.
While searching for answers I also came across the Unofficial Ren & Stimpy Production Music Collection on Kirk Demarais’ secretfunspot.blogspot.com. He designed an ‘album cover’ for the collection (as seen above) as well as tracked down and tagged the name of each artist for all the tracks in the collection. Both albums can be downloaded for hours of enjoyment at the links below:
Ren And Stimpy Production Music
Ren And Stimpy Production Music Vol 02, You Eediot!
All artists, whether an animator, fine artist or musician, draw from various inspirational sources to bring their ideas to life. All of the artists I know have large reference libraries containing books, magazines, comics, records, CDs and DVDs; wherever they find inspiration. Taking design cues from their source materials, and re-interpreting them in a new way is fine. However, the danger is that if you stick too closely to the inspirational material, you end up ripping them off, rather than paying homage to them. As far as I’m concerned, when it comes to the Ren and Stimpy theme they need to give credit where credit is due and acknowledge the fact that they based the entire theme on the opening of Killing Floor, by Howlin’ Wolf. His name should be at the top of the credits for that song.
Take a listen to the tracks above and decide for yourself.