|Sign for M*A*S*H 4077 Image credit|
It’s a catchy little song, a little wistful, but ultimately upbeat. Who would think that the title of the M*A*S*H theme song is “Suicide is Painless”?
The story goes, according to IMDB that Johnny Mandel came up with the tune for the original M*A*S*H movie, but no one could come up with lyrics.
So, the director’s son, 14-year-old Mike Altman, gave it a try. The music accompanied a scene about a “painless” dentist, so perhaps the Altman boy wasn’t as emo as it might seem. He was simply working out a poem with a given theme and cadence.
It has some poignant lines: “The sword of time will pierce our skin/ It doesn’t hurt when it begins/ But as it works its way on in/ The pain grows stronger, watch it grin."
The father, Robert Altman made around $75,000 to direct the film. It’s estimated that his son has made about $2,000,000 for the song.
It was a number one hit in England. My sister’s friend did a student exchange in London, and she brought the song back to us on tape.
The tape is long gone, but now I can download it from the M*A*S*H soundtrack on Freegal.