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.