on the Range"
an "Our Song"
By Doug Boilesen
This Friends of the Phonograph memory
is about "Home on the Range." It's also another example
of how many connections exist for a song (or for that matter anything
since everything has connections).
First, a little history about "Home on
the Range" from Wikipedia.
"Home on the Range" is a classic western
folk song sometimes called the "unofficial anthem" of the American
West. . Originating as a poem "in praise of the
prairie" by Dr. Brewster M. Higley of Smith County, Kansas
in 1872 music was later added by Brewster's friend Daniel E.
In 1925 a sheet-music arrangement found
some popularity, and in 1927 Vernon
Dalhart recorded it for Brunswick
Records. California's radio cowboys picked it up from him,
and in 1930 Hollywood's first crooning western star, Ken Maynard,
recorded the song.
The most popular version of the song was
by Bing Crosby on September 27, 1933, with Lennie Hayton
and his orchestra for Brunswick Records which appeared in
the various charts of the day. This turned a little-known
saddle song into a most renowned western hymn. 
I listened to "Home on the Range"
when I was young, especially the version by Gene Autry, but I
was also a fan of Roy Rogers and there were two Home on the
Range records that I know I heard (i.e., "Roy
Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers" and "Dale
Evans with the Ranch Hands and Mitch Miller's Orchestra.")
Wikipedia's "Home on the
Range" entry and its section "Modern
Usage" identify some artists who recorded this song and
also some references to how it has been used in film and popular
culture. Records by "Frank Sinatra...John Charles Thomas,
Connie Francis, Gene Autry, Burl Ives, Pete Seeger, Johnnie Ray,
Slim Whitman, Steve Lawrence and Tori Amos";
movies like the 1937 comedy The Awful Truth where it's
sung by Irene Dunne and Ralph Bellamy and the 1948 film Mr.
Blandings Builds His Dream House where Cary Grant and Myrna
Loy sing a few lines; Willie Nelson, Neil Young, Porky Pig, Bugs
Bunny, Lisa Simpson, John
Denver and many others.
I've heard many versions through the decades
but it was on our family car trips with my wife and two sons when
my own performances of Home on the Range most frequently
took place. It usually began with me singing the song, unaccompanied.
There may have been some rolling of the eyes and perhaps even
a few discouraging words were heard, but in the end at least one
of them joined in on the refrains.
©King Features Syndicate,
Three other multi-generational family connections
to Home on the Range can also be noted.
The first was a copy of Home on the Range
sheet music that I discovered with her name "Betty Ann"
written on its cover page. I knew she had taken piano lessons
as a child and I remember some old sheet music in our piano bench
when I took piano lessons years later but I don't remember ever
playing that song.
©1935, Calumet Music Co.,
The second connection was a program and menu
made for the 1940 Cotesfield High School Junior Senior Banquet
where Dad went to school. The banquet had a cowboy theme with
"Lasso Spuds", "Ridem Cowboy Dessert" and
the "Home on the Range Trio" with "Axel"
on that program as the "R"-anger used to spell out ROUND
1940 Home on the Range
Junior Senior Banquet with "R-anger" Axel Boilesen
And the third connection, and most memorable,
was when our youngest son Matt was married and "Home on the
Range" was again heard, this time spontaneously performed
at the wedding reception by Matt's grandfather Andy, Matt and
That wedding reception rendition is why hearing
Home on the Range now has its time travel trigger for me
making it an Our Song.
It was a heart-felt moment and pure fun.
Andy, Matt and Doug singing
Home on the Range, 2009 at Matt and Tara's Wedding Reception
Connections and relationships
are fundamental to Friends of the Phonograph memories and
when I think of Home on the Range I'm reminded of the line
in the movie Interstellar when Cooper says to his daughter
Murph, "We're just here to be memories for our kids."
"Home on the Range."
This is Our Song...Remember?
- Gene Autry singing Home on the Range
At Home on the Range! postcard
Courtesy The New Yorker
and Charles Barsotti
Home on the Range - ROCKY MOUNTAIN HOLIDAY WITH
JOHN DENVER AND THE MUPPETS, 1983
Credits from Wikipedia
(1) Here is a brief history of this poem/song
as written in Wikipedia via Kansapedia:
Higley's original words are similar to those
of the modern version of the song, but not identical; the original
did not contain the words "on the range". The song was eventually
adopted by ranchers, cowboys, and other western settlers and
spread across the United States in various forms. In 1925,
the song was arranged as sheet music by Texas composer David
W. Guion (1892–1981), who occasionally was credited as the composer.
The song has since gone by a number of names, the most common
being "Home on the Range" and "Western Home". It was officially
adopted as the state song of Kansas on June 30, 1947, and is
commonly regarded as the unofficial anthem of the American West.
Cabin of Dr. Brewster Higley VI. Higley built
the cabin in 1875 and it is now The Home on the Range Cabin.
In 1973 it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
For more information read the January 29, 2015 blog by Lynda Beck
Fenwick, The Home on the Range in The
Leavenworth Times., Photo credit: Ammodramus
Dr. Brewster Higley VI circa
1880's (courtesy Kansas
(5) Pulver, Florence (1946). "Re: Home on
the Range". The Rotarian. 68 (2): 2–3, 54. Dr. Spaeth accepted
this later Spaeth 1948, p. 205
(6) "Home on the Range". Kansas Historical
(7) Spaeth, Sigmund Gottfried (1948). A History
of Popular Music in America. New York: Random House. p. 205.
(8) "Kansas Historical Society: Home on the
Range History". Kansas Historical Society. April 2017.
(9) Silber, Irwin, ed. (1967). Songs of the
Great American West. New York: Macmillan. pp. 221–223. OCLC 1268417.
(10) Harris, Cecilia (2014). "A Symbolic State:
Home on the Range" (PDF). Kansas! Magazine. 2014 (Spring): 17–26,
page 19. Archived (PDF) from the original on 10 August 2014.
(11) "A Bing Crosby Discography". BING magazine.
International Club Crosby. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
(12) Whitburn, Joel (1986). Pop Memories 1890-1954.
Wisconsin: Record Research inc. p. 104. ISBN 0-89820-083-0.