Saturday, July 14, 2012


Here's an old song written by a friend of mine. I didn't have a good recording of it except for a couple of live versions by the Calhoon Brothers so I spent an hour this morning laying down some tracks. As I've learned since starting this blog: recording songs is a breeze; making them sound good is trickier.

We played the song a lot with the Calhoon Brothers in Las Cruces and it evolved. Check out the Calhoon Brothers version to hear it as Bill wrote it -- sort of. Then notice how it got embellished as time went by. I even added another verse. 

And there's even some confusion about the title of the song. Which do you prefer? Ponderosa? Or Bonanza? 

By the way, this Bill Smith is a few years younger than me and plays the guitar like Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton combined. Because I was so stupid I played guitar in the bands we were in and he played bass. I didn't learn to play the bass until I moved to Las Cruces and so our bands in Farmington were half-assed most of the time. If only Bill had sat me down and made me realize he was twice the guitarist I was and that I should play bass. Hell, it only has 4 strings and you just play one at a time.

There's another Bill Smith, an oilman, who was a good friend of my family and he's the one who's immortalized in my stories about the Miley Gang of Farmington NM in the 50s and in the songs "Jicarilla Mud" and "Angelus of Doom".

Bill Smith wrote this song back in the early 70s and if it had only been recorded and promoted back then it would have been a hit song. There was a period of about 5 years in which it would have been meaningful and heartwarming for everyone who heard it. But that period passed and now I imagine most young people who hear this song will wonder what the hell it's about. But maybe TV Land channel will prove me wrong. 

Lately I've been thinkin
Bout some friends I used to know
They lived on the Ponderosa
On their weekly TV show
It's been years since I've seen 'em
But every once in a while
As I'm flippin through the channels
I see an old, familiar smile.

They believed in truth and honesty
Givin every man his due
Always settin a good example
For guys like me and you
But no matter where I see 'em
Or whoever they may be
Y'know it's kinda funny
But they're always the Cartwrights to me.

Now Little Joe lives on the prairie
Hoss has passed away
and the last time I saw Adam
He was Trapper out Frisco way
Ben is chartin the stars
Wearing general's bars
Out in galactic space
But it's always good to see a familiar face.

They taught me bout believin
In myself and the law
Bout standing by your brothers
An always obeyin Pa
But when a bad man puts your family down
You know that just ain't right
Yeah the Cartwrights taught me long ago
Sometimes you gotta fight.

Now Little Joe lives in the little house
Hoss has passed away
An the last time I saw Adam
He was Trapper out in Frisco Bay
Ben is chartin the stars
Wearin general's bars
Out in galactic space
But it's always good to see a familiar face
Yes it's always good to see a familiar face.

Eight Plates

The Mighty Calhoon Brothers 1972 version