Talk about unhip. Right now, I have a Boston Pops medley of old television western themes playing on my headphones — *Rawhide*, *Bonanza*, *Have Gun Will Travel*, *Maverick*, plus half a dozen others many of you have probably never heard of. I never really watched westerns as a kid; I found cowboys boring. I was always more interested in rocket ships and ray guns and guys with capes who could leap into the air and keep on going. But I always liked the theme songs.

Especially *Bonanza*.

The version recorded by David Rose’s orchestra for the television series is a 39-second revelation when you hear it in digital stereo. The guitar picking by Tommy Tedesco — who, incidentally, was also the guitarist on the the ’60s *Batman* theme — is extraordinary. And there are instruments in there no one could possibly have discerned through the crappy television speakers that piped this ditty into America’s homes in the late ’50s/early ’60s: harmonica, Jew’s harp, even a few notes on a goddamn *flute*. (Or maybe it’s a fife. Or an ocarina. Whatever, it’s unexpected.)

I know. I’m going on and on.

I keep that theme on a very short Winamp playlist with a score of other songs I never tire of hearing. Stuff like Jackie Wilson’s “Higher and Higher”, Steve Allen playing “Gravy Waltz”, the Belle Stars’ version of “Iko Iko”, and “Cast Your Fate to the Wind” by Sounds Orchestral. That last one never fails to bring a tear to my eye. Really. It’s irrevocably linked in my mind with summer nights in 1965, and with friends and times that are gone forever.

I know. I’m still going on and on. I’m working on it.

I ain’t got no matches, but I sure got a long way to go.

5 Responses to “Babble”

  1. Leviathan Says:

    I commend your attention to teh soundtrack for the Ray Harryhausen movie “The Valley of Gwangi.”

    This little gem — Harryhausen’s last dinosaur flick — had the brilliant conceit that, instead of being a dinosaur movie that happened to take place in the old west, it was a western that happened to feature a few dinosaurs. The score is perfectly in keeping with that sensibility — it’s wonderful!

    BTW: Do you prefer that versionof “Cast Your Fate To Teh Wind” over the Vince Guaraldi Trio’s own version?

  2. Stuart Moore Says:

    Steve: It’s not particularly relevant to anything, but my grandfather was a pianist/soloist with the Pops for many years under Arthur Fiedler. So it’s quite possible you’re listening to his work right now. Strange world, no?


  3. Soon Says:

    At least you’re listening to about a dozen themes thrown together. Time vanishes quick when you find yourself sitting and running through a couple hundred for the sheer joy of it all. And then there is no more joy.

  4. Bart Lidofsky Says:

    Hope the html works (too bad there’s no preview feature here), but for those who are interested in hearing some old themes, try Toon Tracker

  5. Steve Gerber Says:

    Levi: The Sounds Orchestral version is the one that will always hold a particular association and meaning for me.

    Stuart: Good to hear from you. Strange world, yes — but then I didn’t need much convincing.