Sons of the Pioneers —
Music on Your Desktop

Essay by
Robert Wilfred Franson


May 2001


Cool Water RCA record - Sons of the Pioneers I was playing via the Apple Macintosh's speakers some old Sons of the Pioneers songs for my son's bedtime:

  • "Along the Santa Fe Trail"
  • "Cool Water"
  • "O Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie"
  • "The Oregon Trail"
  • "Red River Valley"
  • "Tumbling Tumbleweeds"

and so on.

When I was young myself, my father played Sons of the Pioneers records, songs that he'd enjoyed for years. Our favorites evoke wide spaces and open roads, the American West and the hot, dry Southwestern desert. The group's great music recalls the American Frontier and the pioneers whose experiences did much to shape America today, and we may hope, strengthen America's future. I'm sure the Sons of the Pioneers were thoroughly aware of this tradition — it's in their name.

Songs loved by my father, songs with which I'd grown up, and now at our fingertips in MP3 format.

I got to thinking about the progression that makes such musical convenience possible; and how we might try to explain the serendipitous evolution to those smooth Western singers, the Sons of the Pioneers, say back in 1937:

See, there will be another World War with Germany, and people at universities will invent these room-sized logic computing machines. Then big organizations will make even bigger computers, like the Air Force (ex Army Air Corps) will use to manage fleets of huge bombers that can fly across the ocean in case we need to bomb Russia.

Then the typewriter and adding-machine companies will design computers to run big-business finance and inventory, and send rockets to the Moon. Other companies will then make smaller computers that will fit on a person's desk, to use for writing letters that are sent via the telephone wires. Eventually — these desktop computers will be able to play Sons of the Pioneers recordings made circa 1937.

I think they'd say, "Gosh, that sure seems like the long way around."

Cool Water RCA record - Sons of the Pioneers


© 2001 Robert Wilfred Franson

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