From the very early days of his performing and recording career, Vince Guaraldi was writing his own compositions. Some of the early ones were classic bop and bossa nova; others demonstrated the gentle Latin influence that -- in the minds of many fans -- would forever characterize his style ... and still others clearly anticipated the wealth of Peanuts themes that would put him on the map, beginning in 1964.
Some specifics can be found at Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI), an organization that was founded 60 years ago on the idea that all songwriters,
composers and publishers have the right to be paid for the use of their intellectual property, no matter how that property is used.
Thus, BMI is a music performing rights organization, which represents songwriters (even when they
happen also to be performers), as well as film, television, musical theater and classical music composers and, of course, music publishers.
BMI collects money from the businesses that use music in the course of their day, and then pays out that money
as royalties to the composers and publishers of the songs and compositions they play.
BMI maintains an ongoing list of any composer's work, and Guaraldi is no different. The information is fascinating, both from the standpoint of what is on the list, and what is not. Then, too, it's obvious that Guaraldi's selections live on, and have been used long after the jazz pianist's death; I doubt he was with us, for example, when some of his themes wound up as background cues for Live with Regis and Kathy Lee. And, of course, "Linus and Lucy" has turned up on a few TV commercials.
You can view Guaraldi's entries in the BMI Registry right here. Be sure to click on individual entries, in order to obtain additional information ... such as who controls the rights to each song or fragment. Bear in mind, as well, that the spelling can be a serious issue: sometimes so fractured that I'm frankly surprised that records related to a given song are maintained accurately (and perhaps they aren't).
What follows is derived from the BMI list, but divided into four alphabetical sections:
The first list is of Guaraldi's BMI-registered songs that appeared on LP or CD during his lifetime. Each of these includes the name of the album on which it appears, with a link that will take you to a description of said album in this document's companion, Vince Guaraldi on LP and CD.
List two features Peanuts material that Guaraldi did not have a chance to record on any album before his death: cues that are known to be from Peanuts TV specials, in some cases available on CDs produced years later, or, at the very least, can be heard on video and DVD, if only in truncated form.
Some questions pop up, when scanning this section:
Why so many sets of "background cues" for some animated specials, such as Easter Beagle, but only one set -- or none -- for others?
How, one wonders, was Guaraldi able to get away with claiming "composer/songwriter" credit for Mozart's Symphony in G minor, or for his arrangements of well-known Christmas carols? Or for his arrangement of "Pomp and Circumstances"?
List three includes unrecorded songs (non-Peanuts) and also concerns cases where Guaraldi's existing music was employed for some other purpose, although questions remain unanswered. It's easy to determine, for example, that "KSTP News at 5 A.M. -- background cues" would have been used for a TV news show, but we don't know which Guaraldi cues were "borrowed" in this fashion. This list also includes a few mysteries: What in the world might "Jet Set" and "Eddie Bone" be?
Finally, the fourth and shortest list is of known songs that do not appear in the BMI registry ... either because the BMI list isn't up to date, or because they were registered elsewhere.
Registered songs that Guaraldi recorded during his lifetime: