The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #11339   Message #2704952
Posted By: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
20-Aug-09 - 04:53 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: Tumbling Tumbleweeds (Bob Nolan)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Tumbling Tumbleweeds (Bob Nolan)
Roy Rogers (once, Leonard Slye from Missouri)was a founding member of the Sons of the Pioneers, but left to pursue a movie career. Bob Nolan, composer of a number of their best songs, was another founder. Actor Ken Curtis (formerly Curtis Wain Gates of Colorado), who played the role of "Festus" on "Gunsmoke," was a later replacement member. The group, with various members, was active, I believe, into the late 1900's in some form. The current comedy western singing act, "Riders in the Sky" is, at least partly, an homage to the Sons.

Being a former agriculturist (I grew up on a cattle ranch), I can share an ironic anecdote. The "tumbleweed" in the song, is an annual bush that can grow to as much as 36 inches or more in height. When it dries out, it forms a rather stiff, rounded mass which breaks off from the stem, allowing the wind to propel it, rolling over and over and broadcasting its seeds along the way. The western U.S. has many regions where the weed is prolific. The irony is that the plant was imported from Russia along with some wheat by immigrants during the mid to late 19th century. Though it has become a symbol for the far western U.S. in cowboy mythology, it's popular name is "Russian Thistle."