6 Degrees Vignettes: The Power of Bonanza (Revisited)

As we celebrate “World TV Day” this year, here is a reprint from 2015 from 6 Degrees-The Power of Bonanza

The theme song of Bonanza always has the power to cheer me up. A friend insisted that Lorne Greene had recorded the theme song of Bonanza and that had made me curious. Thanks to the magic of ITunes, plus YouTube, I’ve been able to obtain a copy that never fails to cheer me up when I’m down.

It’s so much fun to hear Lorne Greene singing the title song. Johnny Cash has a much more serious and plausible version than Lorne Greene’s. But what fun is that? Mr. Greene sings with gusto and this plucky sense of fiefdom surrounding the “saga” of the three Cartwright men. It should be a tragic story. Or at least a tragi-comic story of a man who is widowed three times and left to raise three young men on his own.

But that’s not the American way. In this song, all we hear is how lucky it is to strike it rich with Bonanza! How much fun it is to ride and eat and shoot on the Ponderosa ranch. And if you pick a fight with any one of them, you have to fight with me (meaning-Lorne Greene/Cartwright!)

No one would ever guess the man wasn’t the luckiest guy in the world. He has buried three wives, so they may have told a different tale. But death is not part of the saga of Bonanza. He struck it rich and is reaping the rewards.

The American Saga: We’ve struck Bonanza!

And so it is that when we feel down, the worst part of the story is the one that should be omitted from time to time. When we meet strangers, or friends we haven’t seen for a while, and if people ask how we are, we usually don’t tell a tale of woe. Instead we say, “ It’s great!”  Everything is fine and we’ve struck Bonanza! How lucky we are to be able to weave an imaginary tale of a strife-free existence where we live in a land of plenty. That is the American saga. So far, it seems to be working.

The next time you feel down about some very real and concrete part of your daily existence, then think of some little thing that has the power to cheer you up. It could be a silly song or a poem or a comic or a story. It’s some tangible proof that life exists in a separate plane where you are able to laugh at yourself and with others. It’s perhaps the best part of who we are as Americans. And for me, it’s the lasting power of Bonanza.

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