Approaching 40: Welcome Back

I don’t actually remember ever watching Welcome Back, Kotter, but I do remember demonstrating my impressions of the some of the characters on the show to various family members. I have no idea how or why I had the desire to mimic these characters. Apparently, however, I had some meager ability. I could do Arnold Horshack’s laugh, for instance. When I’d go visit my grandpa and uncles at their gas station in the Bronx, I’d be asked to demonstrate these abilities. “Up your nose with a rubber hose!” I’d say. The people around me would laugh and I would be pleased. Naturally, with this kind of response, I delighting in performing on demand.

I always liked the theme song for the show, “Welcome Back” as recorded by John Sebastian. I have a memory of returning home from a Mets game1 in the late 1970s and hearing this song on the radio. So whenever I hear the song, I’m reminded of crossing various bridges on the way home from Shea stadium. Then, for a very long time, I didn’t hear the song. When I finally did hear it again, decades later, I was certain it was Randy Newman singing the song. But it’s not, it’s John Sebastian. I would have bet money it was Randy Newman.

Despite my enjoyment of the song and my well-received impersonations of the show’s characters, I have no desire to go back and watch the old episodes, the way I do for some shows. Hearing the songs simply provides some fond memories. And it also provides an example of an early talent, if you can call it that. I can still do some voices and impressions today. Maybe it was just a quirk of the structure of my vocal cords, I don’t know. But I trace the ability back to Welcome Back, Kotter. Who knows if I would have ever discovered that talent, had I never watched the show.


  1. I was and am the only Yankees fan in my family. The rest were all Mets fans. I use this as evidence that I am the only normal one in the family.