The theme song to M*A*S*H, “Suicide is Painless,” first appeared in the feature film MASH (with lyrics) and, over the eleven years the television series was on the air, was modified numerous times. The familiar tune always stayed the same but the instrumentation was changed, sometimes significantly. One unique version of the theme song was played in the background of the 1972 CBS fall preview for the series, which you can watch here. I’m not sure how to describe this version. Soulful, perhaps? It’s certainly different than the version most people are familiar with.
Anyway, I was contacted late last month by M*A*S*H fan Dalton who came upon a recording of this version of the theme song sans dialogue and sound effects at the Television Production Music Museum (which I wrote about at Television Obscurities last year). It runs for almost two minutes and is one of numerous CBS theme songs said to be from the 1974-1975 season, courtesy of the L.M. Withers Collection.
Personally, I really like this version but it wouldn’t have worked well over the opening credits.