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  • I have strong opinions about “The Ballad of Gilligan’s Isle”

    Posted on December 11th, 2009 keving 8 comments


    Everyone knows the opening theme from Gilligan’s Island, yeah? I know the mid-’60s sitcom stopped being even a camp sensation about 15 years ago, but I’m reasonably sure the show’s bold depictions of south-seas civilization, animal life, and jungle engineering left a mark on the counterculture movement that still lingers today…right?

    Just in case you need a reminder of how the song goes, here it is:

    I’ve been recording some music for my game/chiptune-only MP3 player and realized that I have not one, not two, but three game-centric covers of this theme at my fingertips — two just ok, and one which hits it out of the park. I figured I’d share them with you:

    Gilligan’s Island (NES, 1990): The title screen jingle from this odd adventure. It’s not bad, but a bit short and melancholy, isn’t it? I wonder if the Japanese developers of this game actually saw the local version of the show any back in the 1960s — the Japan dub, which aired on NTV, has apparently been lost entirely, a victim of wiping. (The vid above was recreated by someone who loved the theme so much that he tape-recorded it off NTV 42 years ago.)

    Gilligan.mod: This was, believe it or not, one of the first Amiga .MOD files I ever listened to after I got a Sound Blaster Pro in 1993. I tracked down the file again a few months back and it’s been in regular rotation since. It’s catchy in that silly Euro-acid way a lot of Amiga tunes were.

    Gilligan’s Island (Williams, 1991): The pinball game, the first one from Williams/Midway to feature a dot-matrix score display. While it fared only average in arcades (only about 4100 machines were manufactured), it’s a personal favorite of mine and I always make a beeline for it at pinball expos and such.

    I firmly believe that some of the best chip-generated music of the late ’80s/early ’90s was bring produced by people like Chris Granner and Jon Hey for Midway’s pinball machines and 16-bit arcade games. In fact, I’d put them right up there with any of the Japanese people working on the PCE or Genesis at the time. What they did with the Yamaha YM2151 (the same sound chip that was in Sharp’s X68000) constantly blows my mind even today…so much so, in fact, that I’ll probably devote another entry to them later.

    But enough about them. Don’t want them stealing the spotlight from the crew of the SS Minnow or anything. Uh-uh.


    8 responses to “I have strong opinions about “The Ballad of Gilligan’s Isle”” RSS icon

    • Amazing. I had no idea Gilligan’s Island actually aired in Japan. I occasionally wondered myself if any of the developers of the Nes game had to actually watch the show, or if Bandai America just had one of their staff try to explain it to them.

    • Ha! Gilligan’s Island, of all the things in the world…


      The only version of the theme song that I’d listen to on “repeat” would be with a really, really heavy-sounding pipe organ. Hmmmm, a harpsichord rendition might be a close second place.

      Speaking of great theme songs from TV shows, I always loves the one from Pete and Pete, but I don’t think it was ever showcased as a chiptune 🙁

    • I loved 4-channel mods–I had 5.25 floppies filled with ’em (pkzip was my best friend).

      MODs like that totally justified my $100 Thunder Card purchase. That and Dr. Sbaitso (which, uh, I found and certainly didn’t just install from a friend’s disk).

      Anyway, I sort of miss the limitations on music. There’s something almost haunting about MODs and chiptunes…

    • Oh my goodness. We had one of those Gilligan’s Island pinball machines at the arcade across from my dorm at Penn State, back in the early ’90s. Definitely one of my favorites.

    • Having no pinball experience to speak of, the Gilligan’s Island machine stands out for me as being one of the few I’ve played. I played it as a kid in the early 90’s in a motel in Røros, Norway while on a marching band summit. And no, Gilligan’s Island never aired in Norway. Just some odd trivia 🙂

    • Thanks for the compliment. Gilligan’s Island is one of my favorites, too.

    • I’m in complete agreement about pinball music from the time. I can’t remember a Bally/Williams machine that didn’t have awesome music. They really had a golden touch, and yet have been woefully ignored by the chiptune fan community.

    • Can you send me the the file or Windows equivalent to the Amiga Mod of the Gilligan’s Island song. This was one of my first Amiga Mods songs. My Amiga 500 as long since passed away… but finding this on your website brings back memories of my favorite computer, the Amiga 500.

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