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 Posted:   May 14, 2004 - 10:42 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

[This post has been edited from its original content today, December 31st, 2012]

So I was finally able to find all six episodes that John Williams did for the longrunning western show WAGON TRAIN between 1958 and 1964. Unlike other western shows from the era like BONANZA or GUNSMOKE, this show never aired in Norway, so this was my first exposure to it.

Here follows a walkthrough of all Williams-scored episodes:

Season 2 (1958-1959):

Episode 11: The Beauty Jamison Story

Flint gets involved in a dispute between the daughter of a deceased, tyrannical ranch lord and the small ranch owners in the area. Things need to get sorted out before the wagon train can move through their territory. There are a couple of stand-out elements here. There's the lovely guitar-based theme for Beauty (also on strings), some pretty hefty xylophone riffs (especially in the attack on the ranches) and a vibrant brass theme for 'riding on the prairie'. Otherwise, it's pretty lowkey and lots of brief moments of melodrama for intros and outros and such.

Episode 14: The Kitty Angel Story

Kitty Angel finds herself not welcome on the wagon train due to her past. When Flint returns to the train toting a smallpox-infected Indian baby, she has everyone's prejudices to deal with as well as this lifethreatening illness. Ridiculously dated episode, trying to highlight racism and prejudice, but ending up being quite racist and prejudiced itself. There's some almost HOME ALONE-like music for the baby, with pizzicato strings, xylophone and fluttering flutes. Also some aggressive music for the Indians and a whole lot of non-descript "relationship" string music. There's a fun cue for when Kitty cat fights with one of the bigoted wagon train passengers. This cue was released on the soundtrack, curiously called "Jumpin' Jack Rabbit".

Episode 27: The Swift Cloud Story

During an Indian attack on the wagon train, Major Adams spares the life of Swift Cloud, crippled son of the Indian Chief. Adams is shocked to learn that Swift Cloud's condition is the result of a vicious attack by a half-breed. The chief sends his son with the wagon train to go see a city doctor who might be able to cure him. The series continues its racist streak in the depiction of the Indians, but then I have to remind myself that the series is a product of its time. There isn't a lot of remarkable music here, but a semi-ethnic/jazz theme for Swift, performed alternately on cello and flute, with discrete use of drums. There's also some action music, although not for the gunfight scenes.

Episode 38: The Jenny Tannen Story

Phoebe is the long estranged daughter of famed San Franscisco singer Jenny Tannen, the latter of whom has become a recluse after scarring her face. Now Phoebe travels with the wagon train to seek out her mother, while at the same time struggling with an impending blindness. It's actually a decent episode (if you disregard some of the hokey sentimentalism). It also contains Williams' most striking music for the series. There's a wonderful melody for the montage sequence in which Major Adams looks for Jenny in SF, alternatively on strings and flutes. But the two centerpieces of the score are the songs "Golden West" and "Tomorrow" performed musical-style by Phoebe in the film, the former at the start of the film, the second during a dance between Adams and Phoebe. These two themes are repeated throughout the episode in various forms and shapes. They are very catchy melodies that could have been included in any given MGM musical of the decade, impressively composed by a 26-year-old Williams. The instrumental versions of both of these songs were included on the LP soundtrack.

Season 7 (1963):

Episode 10: The Kitty Pryer Story

Victor loves young and beautiful Kitty Pryer, but is already married to Martha. He arranges to have Kitty play the wife of his rascal acquiantance Miles while all four of them travel to San Francisco on the wagon train – hopefully to end the marriage to Martha there. However, events ensue that has death following in its wake and sympathies shift. It's a long episode, almost 70 minutes, and also lots of music by Williams as he returns to the series for another episode, 4 years after the last. Noteworthy moments include the recurring and lush love theme for both Kitty and Victor and Kitty and Miles, the typical flute triplets for the travelling montage and some agitated strings, brass and flutes for the sequence in the desert (which also includes an Indian kidnapper, of all things). The music is slightly more consonant than the work he did for crime shows at the time, and very listenable. Wish it got a release.

Season 8 (1964):

Episode 8: Those Who Stayed Behind

Two simultaneous stories are presented -- the first concerns a young man who wants to start afresh from his criminal ways, but is pursued by his former companion (a young Bruce Dern). The second about two young orphans hiding from their abusive guardian only to find a new guardian in a widow at the wagon train. There is rarely long stretches of music, usually very 'literal' music for the going-ons, dramatic outros and intros etc. There's some mickey-mousey stuff for the two orphan boys, some flute/string harmonies for the serious talks and some brass/percussion stuff for the final shoot-out.

-----------
Even though there was never a soundtrack with the episode scores proper, it's pretty amazing to think that Williams had three whole cuts on the LP, since he only did 6 episodes for a show that ran for 284 episodes! Guess that's a testament to his early talents right there.

Furthermore, several tracks from Williams' score appeared in other tv shows as well, especially "Tomorrow". So that's another sign of its impact.


 
 Posted:   May 14, 2004 - 12:33 PM   
 By:   chriss   (Member)

outside the Shuken/Hayes main theme

Wagon Train had three different themes over the years and this album contains the theme composed by Moross. Shuken and Hayes scored the episode "Jose Maria Moran Story". The arrangements on this LP are very different from the original versions.

http://www.fiftiesweb.com/wt/multimedia.htm

 
 
 Posted:   May 19, 2004 - 11:18 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

Indeed you're right. My LP-to-CD transfer doesn't have any composer credits, and as I was just following an online track listing that had the Shuken/Hayes credit as track 1, and since track 1 was the theme on my version, I assumed they had composed it. But after some research, I see that it was actually Moross. Thanks!

 
 
 Posted:   May 19, 2004 - 12:16 PM   
 By:   Morlock1   (Member)

I love Moross' Main Theme.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 30, 2012 - 3:54 PM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

OK, please read the first post. I've edited it from its original 2004 content, in which I only commented on the soundtrack LP. I've now seen all the episodes that Williams scored.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 30, 2012 - 5:24 PM   
 By:   joan hue   (Member)

I do remember the music from The Jenny Tannen story. Ann Blyth sang that gorgeous waltz called TOMORROW, and for years, I didn't know who composed it. I think I asked that question here several years ago, and some learned people pointed out that it was Williams.
I'd love to see those episodes you mentioned to hear Williams' music. Thanks for the information.

 
 Posted:   Dec 30, 2012 - 5:34 PM   
 By:   Jeff Eldridge   (Member)

So I was finally able to find all five episodes that John Williams did for the longrunning western show WAGON TRAIN between 1958 and 1963.

You're right that Williams scored five episodes between 1958 and 1963, but he also scored an episode in 1964.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 31, 2012 - 2:53 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

Aaargh! And here I thought I'd seen them all!

Anyways, thanks for the heads-up, Jeff. I'll have to go on a new treasure hunt now, to find this. If you know the name of the episode, I'd be grateful. If not, I'll find out somehow. smile

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 31, 2012 - 4:30 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

While we (well, I) wait for the final Williams-scored episode that Jeff mentioned above, I actually found two clips on youtube of "Golden West" and "Tomorrow" as performed in the episode "The Jenny Tannen Story".

Check it out:



 
 
 Posted:   Jan 6, 2013 - 3:24 PM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

Jeff, since you have access to the 'still' above, I have to ask you again -- do you know which episode in 1964 Williams scored?

If it's from season 7, I might be able to find it. If it's from season 8, I'm outta luck. Both seasons featured in 1964.

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 6, 2013 - 4:17 PM   
 By:   zooba   (Member)

Here's the entire KITTY ANGEL STORY scored by Johnny Williams who is credited in the End Titles.

Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_y2eaiixyjc

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 6, 2013 - 6:27 PM   
 By:   riotengine   (Member)

Interesting discussion of William's Wagon Train scores. For those interested, Me-TV just started running Wagon Train this last Saturday, replacing their Branded/ Gun's Of Will Sonnett block at 12 noon.

http://metvnetwork.com/programs.php?showID=89

Greg Espinoza

 
 Posted:   Jan 6, 2013 - 7:08 PM   
 By:   Jeff Eldridge   (Member)

Jeff, since you have access to the 'still' above, I have to ask you again -- do you know which episode in 1964 Williams scored?

If it's from season 7, I might be able to find it. If it's from season 8, I'm outta luck. Both seasons featured in 1964.


I do know what the episode is and it is from Season 8. Timeless Media Group has been releasing WAGON TRAIN on DVD. So far the first five seasons are available, plus the seventh season (the one in color with 90-minute episodes). Season six will be out in a couple months, so there is hope that some time in the next year or so they will release the eighth and final season.

Having seen the episode in question, it's not a bad episode, but the score is not one of JW's more memorable ones. In other words, not worth moving heaven and earth to acquire.

Sorry I can't be more forthcoming, but hope this helps.

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 7, 2013 - 2:22 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

OK, Jeff, no problem. I'm sure there's a reason for your 'secrecy'.

But thanks for confirming it's season 8. Then I just have to wait untill a DVD comes out, as my "contact" did not have this particular season. frown

I want to move 'heaven and earth' because I have a goal to see everything Williams ever scored, even the bad apples and even it takes me a lifetime (I'm sure you've already seen it all).

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 7, 2013 - 5:30 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

Interesting discussion of William's Wagon Train scores. For those interested, Me-TV just started running Wagon Train this last Saturday, replacing their Branded/ Gun's Of Will Sonnett block at 12 noon.

http://metvnetwork.com/programs.php?showID=89

Greg Espinoza


I don't think it's available to non-US citizens. Let me know if they ever get to season 8!

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 28, 2013 - 8:27 PM   
 By:   riotengine   (Member)

Interesting discussion of William's Wagon Train scores. For those interested, Me-TV just started running Wagon Train this last Saturday, replacing their Branded/ Gun's Of Will Sonnett block at 12 noon.

http://metvnetwork.com/programs.php?showID=89

Greg Espinoza


I don't think it's available to non-US citizens. Let me know if they ever get to season 8!


Just caught the Swift Cloud episode. yeah, kind of nondescript for Williams.

MeTV recently started airing the 90 minute season 7 episodes. I didn't want to jump into those yet as I'm still working through the early Ward Bond stories.

Greg Espinoza

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 29, 2013 - 5:24 AM   
 By:   Nils   (Member)

I do know what the episode is and it is from Season 8.
...
Sorry I can't be more forthcoming, but hope this helps.


I don't get this... Why is it a problem to mention the name of a TV episode that Williams scored some 50 years ago??

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 29, 2013 - 5:29 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

I do know what the episode is and it is from Season 8.
...
Sorry I can't be more forthcoming, but hope this helps.


I don't get this... Why is it a problem to mention the name of a TV episode that Williams scored some 50 years ago??


Yes, it's a bit strange, but I will soon have access to the Season 8 episodes, and then I'll post the name and my evaluation in this thread myself.

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 14, 2013 - 3:50 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

Well, I can finally reveal the episode that Jeff didn't want to mention (for whatever reason):

The final Williams-scored episode in Season 8 is episode 8, "Those Who Stay Behind". See the first post for more info.

There, now I've finally completed my WAGON TRAIN journey. On to the gazillion other tv shows with music by JW.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 13, 2014 - 2:00 PM   
 By:   filmusicnow   (Member)

Does anybody know of the episode of "Wagon Train" that was scored by Hugo Friedhofer? It came somewhere in the second season (Ernest Gold also scored one).

 
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