Randy Boone Vietnam War Song

“It’s So Hard To Tell Mama Goodbye” is an early example of a music video (on film) from 1967 featuring Randy Boone on vocals and film. Randy had left The Virginian when this film was shot but the song provides an interesting insight into the concerns of young people in the Vietnam War era. Concerns that had a dramatic effect on the Western genre leading to the anti-hero as a lead character. Traditional Western stars such as John Wayne saw their popularity waver in the late 1960s and the TV Western become less relevant to an increasingly jaded generation. The few key TV Westerns (The Virginian, Bonanza, Gunsmoke) that survived through the 1960s into the 1970s all began their runs in more optimistic times for America and the few TV Westerns that began production during the mid-to late sixties all suffered early cancellation with the exception of The Big Valley and The High Chaparral which both ran to four seasons.

Whatever happened to the TV Western?

A quick glance of the new season sees yet another glut of police and lawyer shows. You know the formula. Dead body in the first five minutes followed by endless questioning, an autopsy or two, more questioning and the resolution. Yawn inducing just writing about it. We need someone to take a chance and produce a retro TV Western series. Not in the style of recent examples such as Deadwood. I found that far too negative and depressing. We need a series in the classic 1960s style. No sepia tones or cursing. We need positive, uplifting stories. We need heroes to return to TV. Not cynical. world weary anti-heroes in the Eastwood mold, but heroes in The Virginian or Cheyenne mold.

We all know the world has grown more cynical since the 1960s. But are we to expect decades of Law & Order and CSI spin-offs until we die? Some producer has to take a chance on another TV Western show that isn’t saccharin and isn’t cynical. A show that entertains in the classic Western style.