Brooklyn-born song/writer Vic Mizzy turned his considerable talents from popular music in the 1940s and ’50s to the emerging medium of television in the 1960s. Therein came some of his most memorable, if not significant, contributions, including the theme songs from “The Addams Family” and “Green Acres.” Thanks to long runs on the networks, followed by generations of re-runs and remakes, these simple tunes have earned a place in our collective memories.
In “Green Acres,” Mizzy uses just 76 words to lay out the tension between Eddie Albert’s Oliver Wendell Douglas, New York power attorney who hopes to commune more directly with nature, and Eva Gabor’s Lisa, who exclaims, “New York is where I’d rather stay – I get allergic smelling hay.” Although their love keeps them together in spite of hay fever and hilarity, Mizzy has outlined a central tenant of our evolving civilization: What is it to be a human in our natural state?
While an increasing number of us today seek urban densities, a generation ago the trend was to flee these confines to more suburban locales. Even further back, we had a preference for the rural. Land rushes marched us across the plains, carving the nation into neat and productive plots. Even in our vacations, we further confuse the question. Millions camp, sleeping under the open sky much as our ancestors did for centuries. Others travel great distances to enjoy the luxuries of the newest seven-star hotel.
Yet, as our society continues to plod on, we hear echoes of our past. How do we reconcile our desire to contribute to Albert’s the chores and still enjoy Gabor’s the stores? Are we really getting back to nature if we are “glamping” in some Victorian safari tent? Is it a dodge or just a compromise to our conflicted selves?