Guest blogger Rick29 writes:
The following list represents one fan’s rankings of the five best Western songs. I’m excluding pop songs that appeared in Westerns (“Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head”) as well as Western musicals (Annie Get Your Gun, most films with Gene Autry). I’m sure there will be some dissenting opinions, especially since perhaps the most famous of Western songs comes in at No. 4. But hey, a little lively disagreement is a good thing on a classic movie blog!
1.” The Hanging Tree” (Max David & Jerry Livington) – Easily my favorite of the Western “story songs” (it also summarizes the film’s theme). After I saw the Gary Cooper movie of the same name, the song stuck in my head to the point that I had to special-order the Marty Robbins recording on a vinyl 45 (yes, that was before MP3 downloads). The song was a minor hit for Robbins on the charts, but it has aged beautifully.
2. “3:10 to Yuma” (George Duning and Ned Washington) – I’ll differ from the majority who site Gunfight at the OK Corral as the best of the Frankie Laine-sung Western themes. Yuma is a moody, almost sad piece…a stark contrast to the usual uptempo Western song.
3. “Gunfight at the OK Corral” (Dimitri Tiomkin & Ned Washington) – I can just hear Frankie Laine crooning: “O-K…Cor-ral…O-K…Cor-ral…” As much as I love the music, I feel compelled to shed the spotlight on Ned Washington, who penned the lyrics for several great Western tunes. The following deceptively simple lyric is a fine example of his talent:
Boot hill, Boot hill
So cold, so still
There they lay side by side
The killers that died
In the gunfight at OK Corral
4. “The Ballad of High Noon” (aka “Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin'”) – Probably the most influential song on this list, it won an Oscar and turned into a big hit for the already-popular Tex Ritter. In fact, Ritter sang it on the first Academy Awards telecast in 1953. It ranked No. 25 on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Songs.
5. “Friendly Persuasion” (Dimitri Tiomkin & Paul Francis Webster) – An untraditional song for an untraditional Western (some may argue it’s not a Western, but the Civil War subplot is central to the story). Pat Boone recorded the song in 1956 for one of his biggest hits.
What’s your favorite song from a Western? Sound off in the comments, pardner!
Rick29 is a film reference book author and a regular contributor at the Classic Film & TV Café (http://classic-film-tv.blogspot.com/ ,on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Classic-Film-and-TV-Cafe/136423960949, and Twitter http://twitter.com/classic_film. He’s a big fan of MovieFanFare, too, of course!