Western Division, Rich Paschall

All of the comments over the last two weeks were proof that we should have had a Western Division.  While westerns may have fallen out of favor in recent decades, there were a lot of them in the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s.  Many brought great theme songs to television and I will offer you my favorites here.

As with the Drama and Comedy Divisions, if I could not recall the tune without finding it online, I could not consider it for my Top 10.  I did uncover quite a few that I had forgotten.  Perhaps you can suggest more in the comments below.


The Lone Ranger had a great theme, but it was actually Gioachino Rossini‘s Guillaume Tell, better known as The William Tell Overture.

Gene Autry and Ray Whitley wrote Back in the Saddle Again, not to be confused with the Aerosmith tune, Back in the Saddle.  Autry’s 1939 song was so much associated with him that it seemed logical to use it for his 1950’s era television show.

Roy Rogers Show. Dale Evans wrote Happy Trails which was used for the Roy Rogers radio and later television show in the 1950s.  The show starred Rogers and Evans who were married and extremely popular country and western stars.  The song was released in 1952 and has been covered by many artists.


10. The Wild, Wild West.  Nope, not the one by Will Smith for his movie version of this television series. This one is a classic.

9. The High Chaparral. The television series began on NBC in 1967 and had a theme that invoked the great outdoors. This music would have fit nicely into many of the great western movie epics.

8. Bat Masterson “Back when the west was very young…” a cool guy used his cane rather than a gun. I could sing along with this one every week.

7. Wagon Train. Wagons Ho was actually the third theme for this show. The season one (1957) theme gave way to another in season two and that was changed to an instrumental version as the season went along. Season three introduced the theme you probably would remember.

6. Zorro was “The fox so cunning and free.” The Disney produced show premiered in 1957 and only last two years but the song lives on in my brain.

5. Have Gun Will Travel. The Ballad of Paladin. This was actually the closing theme, written by Johnny Western (a stage name, perhaps?), Sam Rolfe and the show’s star, Richard Boone.

4. The Big Valley  This western was not only in a big valley, it had a big name cast led by movie star Barbara Stanwyck.  The theme was by George Duning.

3. Maverick  “Who is the tall dark stranger there?”  Well, the cast of Mavericks kept changing.  Initially it was James Garner and after 8 weeks a brother played by Jack Kelly came along.  There were  4 brothers and a cousin (Roger Moore) by the time they were through.  The theme was by David Buttolph and Paul Francis Webster.

2. Bonanza, by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans.  These two were well acquainted with hits, including the famous Mr. Ed.

1. Rawhide.  Just like Bonanza we served this one up in the Drama Division before we realized we needed a Western subset.

Related: The Television Western, Sunday Night Blog


Author: Rich Paschall

When the Windows Live Spaces were closed and our sites were sent to Word Press, I thought I might actually write a regular column. A couple years ago I finally decided to try out a weekly entry for a year and published something every Sunday as well as a few other dates. I reached that goal and continued on. I hope you find them interesting. They are my Sunday Night Blog. Thanks to the support of Marilyn Armstrong you may find me from time to time on her blog space, SERENDIPITY. Rich Paschall Education: DePaul University, Northeastern Illinois University Employment: Air freight professional


  1. Really a big thank you Rich. You brought back memories of my youth That was filled with dreams.
    I loved my westerns, lived the Cowboys.
    I listened to each song and I thank you for those the most. Paladin and Rawhide brought on the tears.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. And the erie thing is when my iPhone decided it knew the typo mistakes I usually make and just corrected them without asking. The hitch is, while the words substituted by iPhone, for my bad choices, we’re legit words.., they often had nothing to do with what I was writing. So I guess the next upgrade at Apple should be “Context Correct”.., but that would mean that our devices would actually have to THINK.., WHOA!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. These are all great themes. I especially like dour reference to themes changing during a show’s run. A modern case is the theme for Monk (a show I love) where part way through its life they switched to Randy Newman’s “It’s a Jungle Out There” a great match for this show. Go figure, why didn’t they discover it in the first place?

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Rich, another great one! I think some folks haven’t observed that you’ve been categorizing your lists.
        Again, it’s subjective but all great choices. Lots of memories associated with some of these themes.
        “Zorro” – my youngest brother Anton, the world acclaimed conductor of the St. Olaf Choir. When he was maybe 4 or 5, maybe 6, Anton would run around the house in his Zorro cape, singing the “Zorro” theme. He would also draw Z’s on the walls of the house. Mom would come from work and admonish me for allowing Anton to “deface” our walls. I still tease him about this, preferably in public settings when he is surrounded by throngs of admirers.
        “Bonanza” — remember the “City Slickers” guys singing this on their first dude ranch adventure?
        “The Big Valley” — I remember humming this one as Marilyn and I rode our horses in the wine country of Northern California.
        “Wyatt Earp” — The theme was running through my head as I chatted with “Huge” O’Brien in a very nice interview back in the late 80’s, I think. O’Brien, at one point, complained that his girdle was too tight.
        “Have Gun, Will Travel”. I still have Johnny Western’s old LP which includes “The Ballad of Paladin”. When I have a bad cold and my voice is very deep and nasal, I do my Johnny Western
        “The Rebel” – Reruns do NOT include the Johnny Cash theme vocal which is a low down shame.
        “Rawhide” — reminds me of course of “Blazing Saddles”. Thank God for Frankie Laine, Randolph Scott and HEDley Lamaar.
        Let’s head ’em off at the pass…….

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Rich, we have a post coming out tomorrow (Tuesday) that I think you’ll love. It plays as second feature to your Western TV themes post. Golly, I like this stuff.


  3. I agree with about Half of yours Rich……..think it really depends on your favorite shows. Two not mentioned that I sang along with every week were Daniel Boone, and Davy Crockett. Wagon Train, Have Gun Will Travel, Big Valley, and Rawhide were favorites. Although the show was not a favorite, I liked the Branded theme song. Thanks for the walk down memory lane, Rich…..Keith Nice when someone listens to his readers, LOL!

    Liked by 2 people

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