Bob Nolan wrote a song called "The
West Is In My Soul". Looking back (I don't have to look very far yet), I
think it's in mine, too. When I was very young, my pet blanket was of a
moccasin pattern. I loved cowboys and Indians, and played accordingly. When
I first began watching Roy Rogers films (probably around ten years old), I
was mesmerized. This was better than the Lone Ranger, because the cowboys
sang. And I've been singing for as long as I can recall. When I
discovered Western music, I discovered something that I felt I'd been
looking for all my life. Lively, soulful and melodic music, about the West
that I loved and had read dozens of books on. Not children's books, either.
I about wore a hole in the television set as I pressed my ear to the
recording of "Dust" from Under California Stars (1948). Come to think
of it, I probably about wore a hole in my family's ears, too..........
Well, over time the western music faded into the background because we didn't watch movies very often, so I didn't get to hear the songs. Years later, at sixteen years old I discovered another brand of music, Irish folk (think Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem), and over the course of a very musical year I 'discovered' the Pioneers for real. And I haven't looked back since.
We all have our favorite Pioneers, of course. Mine are Ken Carson, Lloyd Perryman and Tim Spencer, closely followed by Bob Nolan and then the rest. When you really think about it, you throw up your hands and cry "they're all my favorites!". Surely, it is hard to pick from a group of men who were all masters in their own right. You don't realize their genius until you take a close look at them and realize just how amazing each one was. Separately, they are sensational. Together, they are phenomenal. Nobody could even come into the field of the Pioneers--they were a class in and of themselves.
When I discovered the Pioneers, I read as much as I could about each of them, learned to know their voices and faces, and became able to date many of their recordings just by listening to them. While idly browsing different web sites which mentioned some of the Pioneers, I noticed a few inconsistencies on one particular Pioneer--Ken Carson. Seemed like everybody had a different idea on what his birth name was and where he was born. Now, I'm the daughter of a very superb genealogist (and I'm willing to thumb wrestle anybody who disagrees with me), and I've done some genealogy myself. Haven't found any cowboys or Westerners yet, but there's always the faint hope that I've missed somebody. *grin* Anyhow, the conflicting information on Ken Carson got me curious, and my inquisitive nose started poking itself into censuses, marriage licenses, archives and record books to find out the truth. Well, it's a long process, of course--finding accurate information isn't always easy--but we'll just keep "whistling along", and over time I suppose that Ken's page here will be updated to provide more accurate and complete information.
Kenny really was a swell fellow. He died the year I was born, but shucks--I feel like I know him. *laugh* Sometimes I feel like I was born in 1914, I've become so immersed in the culture back then. And you know? I've never heard an ill word spoken about Ken. Not one. He was a man of tremendous talent, but he wasn't proud. He was a man of adventure, but he was still very gentle. He had an occasional temper, but few people ever saw it. He was a golden voice of a bygone era. And we can thank Mrs. McDonald and Mr. Coburn for this superb site which keeps alive the memory of Ken, and of Bob, and of Tim and Lloyd and Pat and Karl and Hugh and......well, you know. The "boys". May their legacy of music and manliness live on for my generation, who desperately need a revival of the culture of manhood.
A quick note on
Ken's whistling. I've been told that I whistle pretty well. But that was
before I heard Ken Carson. Shucks! Have you ever heard such a whistler in
your life? I reckon you ain't! Well, I've been twisting my poor tongue into
awful contortions to try and find his secret, and I think I've found it. Do
you know, I believe that that man's tongue wore a leopard skin and lifted
barbells while the guy slept. His tongue was incredibly strong to be able to
trill and skip around like that. My tongue just sort of rolls over and looks
weak compared to his. But I'm still practicing. Please ignore the awful
grimaces I make while doing so.
Ken's page would have a lot less media and info if it weren't for several very kind individuals who have helped me. So, "Thanks" by the gallon go to:
for his generosity and cheerful correspondence, who saved me from an
everlasting silence on the Pioneers' part when my computer's sound died
(horror of horrors!), and who provided me insurance against perishing from
boredom on a desert island.
Thanks a million!