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Petzal's Five Best Western-Movie Theme Songs

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February 23, 2009

Petzal's Five Best Western-Movie Theme Songs

By David E. Petzal

And so we segue gracefully from real gunfights to movies about fictional gunfights, and more important, the music for same. As anyone old enough to take Viagra knows, all Western films and TV shows had to have a theme. Most of these were corny lyrics belted out by an all-male chorus, and they all sounded the same. However, a very few rose above the rest, either because they were memorable tunes, or told a story, or simply caught the public imagination to a monster degree.

What I will do is give you clues, and see if you can guess that they are. When you’ve taxed your memory to the max, you can get all the answers by clicking here, or on the individual links below.

1. This 1966 epic was actually a satire of Western movies, but it carried its star from acting in TV westerns to the big-time. The music itself is odd and unclassifiable; there are no lyrics, and it starts off with five notes that are as instantly recognizable as any five notes from anything.

2. When it opened in 1956, this movie was simply a commercial success; now it is regarded as one of the great American films. Its theme is sung by one of its principal actors. He later went on to greater fame with a non-singing role in a long-running TV western. 

3. Released in 1952, this film won 4 Oscars and was nominated for 3 more, including Best Picture. Its theme song was written by a classically trained composer and sung by a popular country-western singer, accompanied only by a finger drum and a few guitar chords.

4. This lovely little tune is the theme song from an obscure TV western that ran from 1955 to 1957 years. It probably comes closer to real cowboy music than anything else here. If you can get this one right, you watched too much TV as a kid.

5. Technically, the 1955 show that featured this song was not a Western, although it ended in Texas. The song was a monster popular hit; there were three versions of it on the charts at one time, and it was part of a national fad.

Comments (53)

Top Rated
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from Mike Diehl wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

I'm thinking you've nominated.

1. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
2. The Searchers
3. High Noon
4. Rawhide
5. Davy Crockett

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from kirkdeeter wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

Great list. I'd have to add the theme from "The Magnificent Seven" by Elmer Bernstein.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Diehl wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

OK. 4 out of 5 ain't bad.

My top 5:

1. The Magnificent Seven (theme from Elmer Bernstein score)
2. Blazing Saddles (Frankie Lane's other song)
3. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence (Gene Pitney, IIRC, but as I recall it wasn't used in the actual movie)
4. Big Iron (by Marty Robbins, not the man in black, OK, it wasn't used in a movie at all but it's an all time great gunfight song).
5. The Girl I Left Behind Me - by no one in particular but you can't watch a John Ford cavalry movie and not hear it.

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from Armchair Mike wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

The theme from "The Magnificent Seven" has to be number one for Western movies. A cigarette company distributed free copies of that song on CD several years ago, and I still listen to mine when kicking off a back-country hunting expedition. The theme from "Rawhide" would be my pick for TV themes.

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from Happy Myles wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

Anyone my age or older, upon hearing Rossini's William Tell Overture thinks only of The Lone Ranger.... Ok, so that was during the era of radio, and he never killed anyone.

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from Mark-1 wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

Not a bad list, DP.

Somehow I would have stuffed the "Rebel" theme into the list.

"Johnny Yuma was a rebel......"

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

I'm clueless but I'll take a stab at #2 being Maverick with James Garner and #3 being Shane. #1 would have to be the good, the bad and the ugly with 5 very recognizable notes. I'm clueless on #4 and there is only one thing that ended in Texas that I know of, Davy Crockett.

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from jasonb wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

I think your answers have #2 and #3 reversed.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

Hey, that's Tuco.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Online Editors wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

Jason, thanks for the catch. We fixed it.

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from jim in nc wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

I also think "Song of the Faraway Hills" from Shane should be there, plus the Mag 7. How many of your viewers nailed Tombstone Territory? (Hell, I can still sing it from memory, not that you'd want to hear--how's that for having watched too much TV?)

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from davidpetzal wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

To All: I am conflicted about anything in The Magnificent Seven. Steve McQueen and James Coburn ("You lost.") are indescribably cool. However, Yul Brynner as a shaven-headed Cajun gunslinger in a stunning all-black ensemble is just too much.

What ruined the movie for me was this: When it came out in 1960, I was a freshman in college and saw the film in the little local theatre. In the audience was a classmate named John Wren who could do Donald Duck better than Donald Duck. Comes the scene where Chris is auditioning the conflicted would-be Mexican gunslinger played by Horst Bucholtz. Horst can't beat Yul, and is working up to a regular method-acting hissy fit, when out of the audience comes the Voice of the Duck:

"AW PLEASE, MISTER, LET ME DRAW MY GUN. WAWAWAWAWAWAWA."

Pandemonium. I thought they were going to have to tear gas the place to restore order. I've never been able to watch it with a straight face since.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckstopper wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

Ken Curtis (AKA Festus) was in several John Wayne movies, He also sung in "Rio Grande" with the Sons of the Pioneers. He also played a cavalry scout in The Horse Soldiers. The Big Country with Gregory Peck has another good theme. One of my favorite western TV shows was "Palladin" -(Have Gun, Will Travel)

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from buckhunter wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

DUH! Hell the answers are there. I guess 2 out of 5 aint bad for a young pup like myself.

I don't think Yul ever took a part where his character wasn't bigger than life.

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from buckhunter wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

Ken Curtis was also in The Searchers as the husband to be.

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from kirkdeeter wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

The fact that the Magnificent Seven is really an Americanized rendition of the Seven Samurai... and Bernstein's score does so much to make it so... well, American... that's why I like the theme song. That, and the fact that I can't drive (or hike, or ride a horse) through the high desert without whistling or humming that song. How true on "You lost." But I also like "Oh hell, if that's all that's holding things up... I'll drive the rig." Bald head, black suit, or not. The only western movie lines/scenes I find more powerful than those from the Magnificent Seven are in Unforgiven.

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from Del in KS wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

The GB&U with Clint Eastwood as Blondy, Eli Wallach as Tuco (in pic), and Lee Van Cleef Angel Eyes is one of my all time favorites. The theme is my ringtone. Nevermind the unblievable stuff like Clint shooting an unfamiliar rifle from the back of a horse and cutting a hangman's rope at 300 yds at the end.

Shouldn't Bonanza be in there somewhere? Sure it was an instrumental but who can forget it.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from alabamahunter wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

This is slightly different than the type of music Mr. Petzal is reffering to, but the violin playing in the opening of Lonesome Dove is wonderful.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jim in Mo wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

I liked the Rawhide theme song. I even liked it when the Blues Brothers did it.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

I don’t know the best movie, but one of my favorite part of the movie is

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMrQLz2nTMk

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from bomberpride wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

What about Old Yeller?

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from The_UTP wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

Davy Crockett has a good eye for real estate. Or at least Fess Parker, the guy who played Davy, has one. After he quit acting, he bought the DoubleTree resort hotel on the beach in Santa Barbara, Calif. I'd say he played his 15 minutes of fame into a pretty good investment.

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from JTC wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

If anyone here does not know that #1 is "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" with Clint Eastwood, then they should be forced to go to a class all about Westerns. And Bill Heavey will be the teacher.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from ishawooa wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

I realize its a rather slow time of the year for hunting but da*n we are about out of something to write about here. Unfortunately I remember each song well, too well as I was there when they came out. I was even named after one of the cowboy stars since he was my mother's silver screen hero. You guys remember the Lonesome Dove musical theme that ran throughout the six hours the made-for-TV movie played? I thought this music added a lot to my favorite western but I could not tell you the name of a single song. Michael Martin Murphy has several fantastic western music CDs. I think he still has a web site where you can purchase them. I have a couple and have heard him in person, both are very enjoyable. How about Gene Autry's "Back in the Saddle" that he sang in some movie he made probably back in the forties. Gene sure made a big crock of money before he rode on up the trail.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jim in Mo wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

Happy Miles,
The William Tell Overture does make a man sit up and listen. Sort of like revelry in the morning.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Shaky wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

Jim in Mo; that used to be reveille, in the morning.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Kucher wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

What about "The Rifleman" Gotta love the series of rifle shots as he walks down the street.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sportsman Matt wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

The Good the Bad and the Ugly (which was cut down an hour before it's debut here in the US and stayed like that), Fistful of Dollars, and a Few Dollars More had good music scores. But they were known as Spaghetti Westerns due to filming in Italy and Spain. Even though filmed overseas, they did empower lots of us to become fast draws, and whistle those tunes every now and then.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ziggy4334 wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

Quite honestly anything Clint Eastwood has done should be considered candidate for this list, although #1 will always be right in my opinion. Other things considered, however, there are other westerns that are good and are accurate descriptions of what happened during th eera, although they mostly are terribly overdone and thought out entirely too much.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Del in KS wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

The instrumental music in Dances with Wolves is mighty good. Like the Lonesome Dove theme also. Seen Gus die a dozen times and it still makes the eyes water.

Clay, I never get tired of seeing that "Trinity" clip every one in a while.

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from Del in KS wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

NOS but in my old age nothing brings tears to my eyes like seeing the funeral of one of my brothers in arms. Even a total stanger. I cried like a baby when they played taps at my Father in law LtCdr J. R. Schurman's funeral. During my career I was in charge of several Army funeral details and it didn't seem to get to me nearly as bad then.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Quahog wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

How 'bout "Red River Valley" --- Gene Autry movie and song(pre NFL).

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from platte river rat wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

Anyone ever listen to Ken Curtis (Festus) sing. Sure he sang in the John Wayne movies, but, did you know he took over for Frank Sinatra in the Tommy Dorsey band. Look at his web page on Ken Curtis.com---there you can hear him sing on a few music videos----great voice--he was in show business all his life. He'll always be one of my favorite western actors and singers.

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from 60256 wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

The good the bad and the ugly beats em all hands down.

Nate

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Hugh Bryan wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

All the music from Once Upon a Time in the West. They'll play that I my funeral I hope.

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from wingshooter54 wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

Best Western movie of all time?
Think William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Ben Johnson, Warren Oates, etc
"Mexico Lindo" -- Angel
"Just looks like more Texas to me." -- Lyle Gorch
"Aaah, you go no eyes." -- Angel
What was it?
Gary

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from winterhawk wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

I would have to add theme from 'Gunsmoke' to the list.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

I agree with Ishawooa. We are definitely $h!t out of anything to write about. We could argue about which is better cartridge, the .30-06 or .270 Winchester.

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from Del in KS wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

Wingshooter is talking "The Wild Bunch".

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from Paul Wilke wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

In 1955 (?) I was sent home on a convalescent leave. Had been out of touch with the rest of the world for a while. My trip was by train, with the last leg being public transportation on a bus. I was tired, my nerves were shoot, I weighed less than 100 pds. For no reason that I could see the entire bus (20 or so people) burst out in song "Davy, Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier". I really thought that I had lost my mind and was in the twilight zone.
It must have been a very popular show.

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from Zermoid wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

As one who grew up watching The Lone Ranger on TV and never knew the music had any other name than "The Lone Ranger Theme" until I was nearly in High School I can't believe you left it out!
Possibly a technicality as it wasn't originally written as a Western theme song?

Also the theme from Daniel Boone series has to at least get Honorable Mention, we even sung that in school, ranks right up there with Davy Crockett IMO.

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from blueridge wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

i have to agree with Buckstopper...THE BIG COUNTRY was a favorite of mine.

Besides our love of related articles, like holsters and Sierra Bullets, is our music. Kind of hard to explain to the non-shooter, but there it is.

Hoo-ahh.

Tom 'Blueridge'

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from Happy Myles wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

The song "Rain Drops Keep Falling On My Head" accompanying Paul Newman's antics on a bicycle were in the only scene I remember from, I think the movie was called Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid.

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from buckstopper wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

As a kid we would make up new words to the TV western theme songs like "Branded" with Chuck Conners and his broken sword as was drumed out of the cavalry. My favorite version would go like:
Stranded...Stranded on the bathroom bowl.....
What do you do if your stranded...and you don't have a
roll....
To prove your a man... you must wipe with your hand
When your stranded..stranded on the bathroom bowl

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from AZ_Hunter wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

A bit off topic, but your theme topic got me thinking about my top 5 Western movies and I can't make a top 5 list without including the [highly underrated] Paul Newman Hombre from 1967.

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from Carney wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

I was 6 years old when "The Good. The Bad and The Ugly." came out. Every neighborhood kid whistled the tune (or pretended to if he couldn't whistle...) when we played cowboy games.

Buckstopper -- I sang that Stranded tune at the dinner table once; everyone was so shocked as that was not polite dinner time talk, but my Dad laughed his head off!

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from Tim Platt wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

I can whistle those five instantly recognizable notes from #1 and my Yellow Lab "Blondie" will come running. That instantly recognizable musical moment is pure genius. It seems to have the same effect on every species... from there on out you'd better stick to guns instead of music Dave.

Yul Brenner as a shaven headed gunslinger in an all black ensemble worked some magic in "Westworld". They even got a sequel. Davy, Davy Crockett king of the wild frontier undoubtedly is a classic and has been around forever. If you have the sheet music which I am unfortunate enough to own you will realize that it has seventeen thousand verses and if you are stupid enough to try and play and sing them all you will either bore yourself to death or be stoned by your audience. Stoned in the Biblical sense of course.

William Tell Overture is one that instantly makes me see the Lone Ranger. It was THE western theme song before Clint hit the screen. Happy called it first, and then Dell came out with Bonanza. You can play bum dada bum dada bum dada bum dada bum dahhhhhh and everyone wants to see a burning map! Ingrained in my mind forever.

What about "Happy Trails"? That one sends me to another place in time... buckstopper you have it all wrong! Stranded, stranded on the toilet bowl. What do you do when you're stranded, and you can't reach the roll? Whatever you do for the rest of your life... you must prove, you can wipe.

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from ishawooa wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

The theme to Bonanza comes to mind as being eternally etched in my brain.

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from Hogman7 wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

1.True Grit
2.The alamo
3.Rooster Cogburn
4.The Good, the bad, the ugly
5.Davy Crockett

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from Jeff Bowers wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

Hmmm... Since this question was about songs, and not the movies themselves, I can agree with one thing:

Good, Bad, and the Ugly was the best theme, for anything on earth and even parts of New Jersey, for any reason, ever. The music added to the film, not just was tacked on like a TV theme.

Since some of us sidetracked to the shows themselves, I would say that this, or another fantastic Eastwood film; "The Outlaw Jose Wales" would about tie for first. "Outlaw's" music wasn't as memorable though.

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from Tim Platt wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

Is that a picture of Tuco or a young DEP?

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from Coach James wrote 5 years 6 weeks ago

I would add to the list the opening theme from El Dorado with John Wayne. The great music was enhanced by the excellent western paintings that accompanied it. The paintings were done by the man that played the gunsmith in the film.

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from Christian Emter wrote 5 years 6 weeks ago

Theme songs from Bonanza.

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from kolbster wrote 5 years 6 weeks ago

The alamo
Blazing saddles
The good the bad and the ugly.
True grit

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Post a Comment

from Mike Diehl wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

OK. 4 out of 5 ain't bad.

My top 5:

1. The Magnificent Seven (theme from Elmer Bernstein score)
2. Blazing Saddles (Frankie Lane's other song)
3. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence (Gene Pitney, IIRC, but as I recall it wasn't used in the actual movie)
4. Big Iron (by Marty Robbins, not the man in black, OK, it wasn't used in a movie at all but it's an all time great gunfight song).
5. The Girl I Left Behind Me - by no one in particular but you can't watch a John Ford cavalry movie and not hear it.

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from Mike Diehl wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

I'm thinking you've nominated.

1. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
2. The Searchers
3. High Noon
4. Rawhide
5. Davy Crockett

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from kirkdeeter wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

Great list. I'd have to add the theme from "The Magnificent Seven" by Elmer Bernstein.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mark-1 wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

Not a bad list, DP.

Somehow I would have stuffed the "Rebel" theme into the list.

"Johnny Yuma was a rebel......"

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from davidpetzal wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

To All: I am conflicted about anything in The Magnificent Seven. Steve McQueen and James Coburn ("You lost.") are indescribably cool. However, Yul Brynner as a shaven-headed Cajun gunslinger in a stunning all-black ensemble is just too much.

What ruined the movie for me was this: When it came out in 1960, I was a freshman in college and saw the film in the little local theatre. In the audience was a classmate named John Wren who could do Donald Duck better than Donald Duck. Comes the scene where Chris is auditioning the conflicted would-be Mexican gunslinger played by Horst Bucholtz. Horst can't beat Yul, and is working up to a regular method-acting hissy fit, when out of the audience comes the Voice of the Duck:

"AW PLEASE, MISTER, LET ME DRAW MY GUN. WAWAWAWAWAWAWA."

Pandemonium. I thought they were going to have to tear gas the place to restore order. I've never been able to watch it with a straight face since.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckstopper wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

Ken Curtis (AKA Festus) was in several John Wayne movies, He also sung in "Rio Grande" with the Sons of the Pioneers. He also played a cavalry scout in The Horse Soldiers. The Big Country with Gregory Peck has another good theme. One of my favorite western TV shows was "Palladin" -(Have Gun, Will Travel)

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from kirkdeeter wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

The fact that the Magnificent Seven is really an Americanized rendition of the Seven Samurai... and Bernstein's score does so much to make it so... well, American... that's why I like the theme song. That, and the fact that I can't drive (or hike, or ride a horse) through the high desert without whistling or humming that song. How true on "You lost." But I also like "Oh hell, if that's all that's holding things up... I'll drive the rig." Bald head, black suit, or not. The only western movie lines/scenes I find more powerful than those from the Magnificent Seven are in Unforgiven.

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from Del in KS wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

The GB&U with Clint Eastwood as Blondy, Eli Wallach as Tuco (in pic), and Lee Van Cleef Angel Eyes is one of my all time favorites. The theme is my ringtone. Nevermind the unblievable stuff like Clint shooting an unfamiliar rifle from the back of a horse and cutting a hangman's rope at 300 yds at the end.

Shouldn't Bonanza be in there somewhere? Sure it was an instrumental but who can forget it.

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from Jim in Mo wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

I liked the Rawhide theme song. I even liked it when the Blues Brothers did it.

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from Jim in Mo wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

Happy Miles,
The William Tell Overture does make a man sit up and listen. Sort of like revelry in the morning.

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from Armchair Mike wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

The theme from "The Magnificent Seven" has to be number one for Western movies. A cigarette company distributed free copies of that song on CD several years ago, and I still listen to mine when kicking off a back-country hunting expedition. The theme from "Rawhide" would be my pick for TV themes.

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from Happy Myles wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

Anyone my age or older, upon hearing Rossini's William Tell Overture thinks only of The Lone Ranger.... Ok, so that was during the era of radio, and he never killed anyone.

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from buckhunter wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

I'm clueless but I'll take a stab at #2 being Maverick with James Garner and #3 being Shane. #1 would have to be the good, the bad and the ugly with 5 very recognizable notes. I'm clueless on #4 and there is only one thing that ended in Texas that I know of, Davy Crockett.

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from jasonb wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

I think your answers have #2 and #3 reversed.

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from buckhunter wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

Hey, that's Tuco.

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from Online Editors wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

Jason, thanks for the catch. We fixed it.

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from jim in nc wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

I also think "Song of the Faraway Hills" from Shane should be there, plus the Mag 7. How many of your viewers nailed Tombstone Territory? (Hell, I can still sing it from memory, not that you'd want to hear--how's that for having watched too much TV?)

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from buckhunter wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

DUH! Hell the answers are there. I guess 2 out of 5 aint bad for a young pup like myself.

I don't think Yul ever took a part where his character wasn't bigger than life.

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from buckhunter wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

Ken Curtis was also in The Searchers as the husband to be.

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from alabamahunter wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

This is slightly different than the type of music Mr. Petzal is reffering to, but the violin playing in the opening of Lonesome Dove is wonderful.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

I don’t know the best movie, but one of my favorite part of the movie is

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMrQLz2nTMk

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from bomberpride wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

What about Old Yeller?

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from The_UTP wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

Davy Crockett has a good eye for real estate. Or at least Fess Parker, the guy who played Davy, has one. After he quit acting, he bought the DoubleTree resort hotel on the beach in Santa Barbara, Calif. I'd say he played his 15 minutes of fame into a pretty good investment.

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from JTC wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

If anyone here does not know that #1 is "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" with Clint Eastwood, then they should be forced to go to a class all about Westerns. And Bill Heavey will be the teacher.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from ishawooa wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

I realize its a rather slow time of the year for hunting but da*n we are about out of something to write about here. Unfortunately I remember each song well, too well as I was there when they came out. I was even named after one of the cowboy stars since he was my mother's silver screen hero. You guys remember the Lonesome Dove musical theme that ran throughout the six hours the made-for-TV movie played? I thought this music added a lot to my favorite western but I could not tell you the name of a single song. Michael Martin Murphy has several fantastic western music CDs. I think he still has a web site where you can purchase them. I have a couple and have heard him in person, both are very enjoyable. How about Gene Autry's "Back in the Saddle" that he sang in some movie he made probably back in the forties. Gene sure made a big crock of money before he rode on up the trail.

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from Shaky wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

Jim in Mo; that used to be reveille, in the morning.

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from Kucher wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

What about "The Rifleman" Gotta love the series of rifle shots as he walks down the street.

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from Sportsman Matt wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

The Good the Bad and the Ugly (which was cut down an hour before it's debut here in the US and stayed like that), Fistful of Dollars, and a Few Dollars More had good music scores. But they were known as Spaghetti Westerns due to filming in Italy and Spain. Even though filmed overseas, they did empower lots of us to become fast draws, and whistle those tunes every now and then.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ziggy4334 wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

Quite honestly anything Clint Eastwood has done should be considered candidate for this list, although #1 will always be right in my opinion. Other things considered, however, there are other westerns that are good and are accurate descriptions of what happened during th eera, although they mostly are terribly overdone and thought out entirely too much.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Del in KS wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

The instrumental music in Dances with Wolves is mighty good. Like the Lonesome Dove theme also. Seen Gus die a dozen times and it still makes the eyes water.

Clay, I never get tired of seeing that "Trinity" clip every one in a while.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Del in KS wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

NOS but in my old age nothing brings tears to my eyes like seeing the funeral of one of my brothers in arms. Even a total stanger. I cried like a baby when they played taps at my Father in law LtCdr J. R. Schurman's funeral. During my career I was in charge of several Army funeral details and it didn't seem to get to me nearly as bad then.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Quahog wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

How 'bout "Red River Valley" --- Gene Autry movie and song(pre NFL).

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from platte river rat wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

Anyone ever listen to Ken Curtis (Festus) sing. Sure he sang in the John Wayne movies, but, did you know he took over for Frank Sinatra in the Tommy Dorsey band. Look at his web page on Ken Curtis.com---there you can hear him sing on a few music videos----great voice--he was in show business all his life. He'll always be one of my favorite western actors and singers.

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from 60256 wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

The good the bad and the ugly beats em all hands down.

Nate

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from Hugh Bryan wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

All the music from Once Upon a Time in the West. They'll play that I my funeral I hope.

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from wingshooter54 wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

Best Western movie of all time?
Think William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Ben Johnson, Warren Oates, etc
"Mexico Lindo" -- Angel
"Just looks like more Texas to me." -- Lyle Gorch
"Aaah, you go no eyes." -- Angel
What was it?
Gary

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from winterhawk wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

I would have to add theme from 'Gunsmoke' to the list.

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from Del in KS wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

Wingshooter is talking "The Wild Bunch".

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from Paul Wilke wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

In 1955 (?) I was sent home on a convalescent leave. Had been out of touch with the rest of the world for a while. My trip was by train, with the last leg being public transportation on a bus. I was tired, my nerves were shoot, I weighed less than 100 pds. For no reason that I could see the entire bus (20 or so people) burst out in song "Davy, Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier". I really thought that I had lost my mind and was in the twilight zone.
It must have been a very popular show.

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from Zermoid wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

As one who grew up watching The Lone Ranger on TV and never knew the music had any other name than "The Lone Ranger Theme" until I was nearly in High School I can't believe you left it out!
Possibly a technicality as it wasn't originally written as a Western theme song?

Also the theme from Daniel Boone series has to at least get Honorable Mention, we even sung that in school, ranks right up there with Davy Crockett IMO.

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from blueridge wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

i have to agree with Buckstopper...THE BIG COUNTRY was a favorite of mine.

Besides our love of related articles, like holsters and Sierra Bullets, is our music. Kind of hard to explain to the non-shooter, but there it is.

Hoo-ahh.

Tom 'Blueridge'

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from Happy Myles wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

The song "Rain Drops Keep Falling On My Head" accompanying Paul Newman's antics on a bicycle were in the only scene I remember from, I think the movie was called Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid.

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from buckstopper wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

As a kid we would make up new words to the TV western theme songs like "Branded" with Chuck Conners and his broken sword as was drumed out of the cavalry. My favorite version would go like:
Stranded...Stranded on the bathroom bowl.....
What do you do if your stranded...and you don't have a
roll....
To prove your a man... you must wipe with your hand
When your stranded..stranded on the bathroom bowl

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from AZ_Hunter wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

A bit off topic, but your theme topic got me thinking about my top 5 Western movies and I can't make a top 5 list without including the [highly underrated] Paul Newman Hombre from 1967.

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from Carney wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

I was 6 years old when "The Good. The Bad and The Ugly." came out. Every neighborhood kid whistled the tune (or pretended to if he couldn't whistle...) when we played cowboy games.

Buckstopper -- I sang that Stranded tune at the dinner table once; everyone was so shocked as that was not polite dinner time talk, but my Dad laughed his head off!

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from Tim Platt wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

I can whistle those five instantly recognizable notes from #1 and my Yellow Lab "Blondie" will come running. That instantly recognizable musical moment is pure genius. It seems to have the same effect on every species... from there on out you'd better stick to guns instead of music Dave.

Yul Brenner as a shaven headed gunslinger in an all black ensemble worked some magic in "Westworld". They even got a sequel. Davy, Davy Crockett king of the wild frontier undoubtedly is a classic and has been around forever. If you have the sheet music which I am unfortunate enough to own you will realize that it has seventeen thousand verses and if you are stupid enough to try and play and sing them all you will either bore yourself to death or be stoned by your audience. Stoned in the Biblical sense of course.

William Tell Overture is one that instantly makes me see the Lone Ranger. It was THE western theme song before Clint hit the screen. Happy called it first, and then Dell came out with Bonanza. You can play bum dada bum dada bum dada bum dada bum dahhhhhh and everyone wants to see a burning map! Ingrained in my mind forever.

What about "Happy Trails"? That one sends me to another place in time... buckstopper you have it all wrong! Stranded, stranded on the toilet bowl. What do you do when you're stranded, and you can't reach the roll? Whatever you do for the rest of your life... you must prove, you can wipe.

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from ishawooa wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

The theme to Bonanza comes to mind as being eternally etched in my brain.

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from Hogman7 wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

1.True Grit
2.The alamo
3.Rooster Cogburn
4.The Good, the bad, the ugly
5.Davy Crockett

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from Jeff Bowers wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

Hmmm... Since this question was about songs, and not the movies themselves, I can agree with one thing:

Good, Bad, and the Ugly was the best theme, for anything on earth and even parts of New Jersey, for any reason, ever. The music added to the film, not just was tacked on like a TV theme.

Since some of us sidetracked to the shows themselves, I would say that this, or another fantastic Eastwood film; "The Outlaw Jose Wales" would about tie for first. "Outlaw's" music wasn't as memorable though.

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from Tim Platt wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

Is that a picture of Tuco or a young DEP?

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from Coach James wrote 5 years 6 weeks ago

I would add to the list the opening theme from El Dorado with John Wayne. The great music was enhanced by the excellent western paintings that accompanied it. The paintings were done by the man that played the gunsmith in the film.

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from Christian Emter wrote 5 years 6 weeks ago

Theme songs from Bonanza.

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from kolbster wrote 5 years 6 weeks ago

The alamo
Blazing saddles
The good the bad and the ugly.
True grit

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 5 years 7 weeks ago

I agree with Ishawooa. We are definitely $h!t out of anything to write about. We could argue about which is better cartridge, the .30-06 or .270 Winchester.

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