Good Music Carries Me Away

May 20, 2024 | Thoughts From the Executive Director

country fiddler

You know you are a 50-year-old fan of Westerns when your ears hear Rossini’s William Tell Overture played, but your mind’s eye sees the Lone Ranger on his stallion, Silver. If you listen you can hear a hearty “Hi-Ho, Silver. Away!’’ Good music can carry me to another time and place. Playing outside on the farm, my brother and I sent many secret messages inside a silver bullet we ordered from a cereal box. Grandpa helped my brother get a white stallion whose name was Tony. But actually Tony was a very retired Tennessee Walking Horse who brought in the cattle from the north pasture. Sitting up high on his back, the rider felt he could right any wrong – just like the Lone Ranger. My brother and I also loved Roy Rogers and Dale Evans and Trigger and Nellybelle and Pat. After they had rescued the little boy or captured the bad guys, every episode would close the same way. Roy and Dale singing, “Happy Trails to You, Until We Meet Again.” Then Roy, wearing his white hat, would tell us to be good girls and boys. He’d close with “Good-Bye, Good Luck and may the Good Lord take a likin’ to you.” Good music carries me away.

As an adult, I really listened to the other stanzas in that tune. “Some trails are happy ones, Others are blue. It’s the way you ride the trail that counts, Here’s a happy one for you. Happy trails to you, keep smiling until then, Who cares about the clouds when we’re together? Just sing a song, and bring the sunny weather, Happy Trails to you, ’til we meet again.”

This melody and all the lyrics accurately convey Roy’s philosophy before screen and off-screen life. He once said, “If we never had any storms, we would not appreciate the sunshine.” And believe me, he had storms.
The story of Leonard Franklin Sly’s childhood during the great depression was difficult. That’s why he left the farm to work as a truck driver, fruit picker and country musician. Then in California as a struggling musician, his first wife died of an embolism one week after giving birth to Roy Rogers, Jr. or Dusty as Roy called him. But even during that time Roy kept singing and playing a variety of guitar styles.

It was the music that gave Roy his opportunities with the Sons of the Pioneers. It was the music that helped put Roy in more than 100 films. It was the music that drew Roy and Dale to each other. Their music then touched thousands of children and adults in such a positive way. No wonder he was the King of the Cowboys and Dale was Queen of the West. And though they kept singing on and off stage, many of their personal trails were full of heartache. They had only one child between them, Robin, who lived two short years. Robin contracted the mumps, which turned into brain fever, and died. Dale authored a book about Robin titled, Angel Unaware. And that small little book touched thousands. But the couple kept singing and their trails eventually included adopting and fostering children. They were staunch advocates for adoption and foster services.

I love almost all of the old Westerns, especially on Saturdays – television shows, movies and re-runs. I learned a lot watching all those shows. I learned that bad guys always get caught. I learned that good guys wear white hats. I learned that it is how you ride the trails that counts. And much, much more.

But it’s the music that transports me and still keeps me singing. Happy Trails to you…