Thursday, April 19, 2012


Sixty years ago, a new radio series premiered: GUNSMOKE. It lasted from April 26, 1952 to June 18, 1961…starring William Conrad as Marshal Matt Dillon and Georgia Ellis as Kitty Russell. It was one of the last radio shows to fall to the popularity of television, and it's quite a testament to Mr. Conrad and his writers and cast, that his "Gunsmoke" spent most of its run in competition with the TV version starring James Arness and Amanda Blake. The TV show premiered September 10, 1955 (ending its historic run on March 31, 1975).

"Gunsmoke" is credited as the first "adult western" series. Radio's "Lone Ranger" and "Cisco Kid" were intended for kids, as was most of the cowboy movies that played in theaters starring various Bucks and Hopalongs and Sons of pioneers. Radio listeners instantly knew the intent behind the series from the weekly introduction:

Announcer "“Around Dodge City, and into territory on west, there's just one way to handle the killers and the spoilers: that's with a U.S. Marshal, and the smell of gun smoke!” Conrad: "I'm that man. Matt Dillon. United States marshal… the first man they look for, and the last man they want to meet… it’s a chancy job, and it makes a man watchful… and a little lonely.”

Lonely? Not a trait of such heroes as the Cisco Kid, Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp, Tom Mix, Wild Bill Hickok or Roy Rogers. Episodes often involved sadism, loose women, grim tales of human nature, and story lines that led more into darkness than happy endings. Some aspects of this can be scene in the early half-hour version of "Gunsmoke," which often began with Arness wandering a graveyard, grimly wishing that people weren't so prone to violence.

The end of both radio and TV versions offered up a mild, unmemorable theme song to roll with the credits. Rex Koury's loping melody had lyrics from Glen Spencer, all about old trails and ghostly horsemen…cliches from other series and movies. Tex Ritter tucked it on the B-side of his 78rpm cover of "Wayward Wind" back in 1955. In 1944, Ritter was the star of "Marshal of Gunsmoke," which was the name of the town. Marshal Dillon's town was Dodge City. Your download is naturally the most obscure version to be found…the work of The Prairie Chiefs, who probably were not Native American, and didn't scalp lyricist Glen Spencer for handing them such forgettable words.

"Gunsmoke trail, oh tell me of days gone by, tho' alone you still wind your way. Are the ghostly horsemen riding, as they speed the eastern mail? It's up to you see them through the old trail….Gunsmoke traveler, no traveller to care where you go. Sands of time are hiding your way. Bet if heaven ever let you, you could tell a rugged tale. That's why I hate to see you fade old trail…."

GUNSMOKE THEME - WITH LYRICS Instant download, no capcha codes, or lame ads for dating services or video game websites, and no extortion from organized crime Eurotrash to buy a premium account so they can make money off somebody else's copyight.


Unknown said...

Very informative and humorous. Thank you. A fan of Gunsmoke.

Ronnie Bishop said...

I think the music for Gunsmoke was really great and I didn't know it had lyrics.