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Why Seinfeld Fans Can Thank Larry David For Saving That Jazzy Theme Song

Seinfeld opening Jerry Seinfeld stand-up
(Image credit: NBC)

When Seinfeld first debuted on NBC, it was unlike anything that had hit the airwaves prior. Not only was it famously a "show about nothing," skipping over the whole "premise" and "plot" thing, even the soundtrack was unique – built primarily on bass sounds from a synthesizer and jazzy scat vocals. The music is now recognized as an iconic part of the popular '90s series... but an interesting historical side note is that it wouldn't be had it not been for the insistence of co-creator Larry David.

The Seinfeld soundtrack was released as an album for the first time last year, and it was around that time when composer Jonathan Wolff told the story of the theme song's origins to American Songwriter. In the interview, Wolff explains that the music was created specifically to vibe with the timing and attitude of Jerry Seinfeld's stand-up comedy, and it earned a thumbs up from Seinfeld and Larry David when he first created it – but there was also specific pushback from some network executives:

I thought I was done. For that moment, I was done. But the network? Mmm, they were not so sure about it. It was weird! We had an actual meeting, which I was invited to because we knew music was one of the topics at hand... Warren Littlefield had the unfortunate job of telling Larry, 'I don’t like the music. It’s distracting, it’s weird, it’s annoying!' And as soon as he said the word annoying, Larry David just lit up. Like, 'Really? Annoying? Cool!'

According to Jonathan Wolff, Larry David liked the music from the start, but it seems his appreciation of it increased after it received criticism, and evidently he ended up getting very defensive in support of it. During the meeting, Wolff, David, Seinfeld, and Castle Rock executive Glenn Padnick huddled together about the notes, and the composer not only said that he was willing to change the music, but that he could provide new options within just a couple of hours.

This is a sentiment that was apparently in no way respected by Larry David. Instead of appreciating Jonathan Wolff's flexibility and the leeway it might provide when negotiating against other changes, the Seinfeld co-creator had the complete opposite reaction and was seemingly insulted by the composer's lacking artistic integrity (to paraphrase George Costanza). Said Wolff,

[Larry] was just appalled, flabbergasted that I would even consider caving to a demand and he got mad not at the network, he got mad at me for even suggesting that I might change it. And he starts yelling, 'Get out! Wolff you’re done here! Get out!' Larry threw me out of the meeting.

Jonathan Wolff did end up actually leaving the meeting as a result of Larry David's demand – but obviously this story has a happy ending. David was successful in the fight to keep the music exactly the same, and Wolff remained with the show for its entire nine-season run.

In addition to being on DVD and available to purchase on digital platforms, Seinfeld is currently streaming as one of the many great shows on Netflix. You can also purchase the Seinfeld soundtrack on Amazon (opens in new tab), featuring 33 pieces of music from the beloved show.

NJ native who calls LA home; lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran; endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.