This is something you absolutely don’t hear anymore. Not unless you already know about, grew up with, have been a fan of or have a propensity to dig into various aspects of our popular culture throughout the 20th century. It is, for the most part a forgotten aspect of our musical heritage; the rural-country singing group – the close harmonies; the songs that painted a loving picture of a West that has all but vanished, or maybe was never exactly as depicted in song. The West of countless films and books. The Romantic aspect of the West. The West as portrayed by writers like Zane Grey and artists like Maynard Dixon (whose example of his many paintings you can see above).
Much of it existed in the minds of those creating those portrayals – whether it was a travel poster for Santa Fe or Union Pacific Railroad, a John Ford film, a Will Rogers monologue or a singing group, like The Plainsmen.
The Plainsmen were only one of several groups very popular from the 1920s to the 1960s. Probably the best known of the bunch were The Sons Of The Pioneers; a group which, early on, boasted a young Roy Rogers and were huge stars on Radio and sold millions of records. But America couldn’t get enough of this hyper-romantic ode to the West of the imagination, and it stayed with us for a very long time – it was the catalyst for the Great Trek West from many living in the congested cities of the East – the lure of the Wide Open Spaces was irresistible, and we came in droves until the West became a bit like the East and the romance had long faded.
But to get some idea of the attraction, this romanticized West, here is a radio program, one of many on the air in the 1940s. This one features Cliffie Stone, hosting a program for the CBS Radio network called Call Of The Range featuring music by The Plainsmen. Stone was an American country singer, musician, record producer, music publisher, and radio and TV personality who was pivotal in the development of California’s thriving country music scene after World War II during a career that lasted six decades.
Hit the play button and sit back.