Larry B. Wilder
Larry Wilder, the Champion of Americana, is an entertainer, teacher and composer, using his songs and stories in concerts, workshops and motivation programs at schools or corporate entities. He has played throughout the 50 states, Europe and Japan. He stated that, among his repertoire of over 300 songs from across the Americana spectrum, "No songs capture the heart like those of Bob Nolan." Honored as Western Music Association's top yodeler in 2008, Larry has created a learning system called "It's Easy to Yodel".
I grew up in Burbank, California, surrounded by Sons of the Pioneers. I did not sing much as a boy and did not realize my schoolmate's dad was their leader. After the military and five years at Disney Studio, I became a teacher and basketball coach in my hometown. Weekends and holiday could find me entertaining, sometimes at Knott's Berry Farm.
It was there in the '70s I saw Roy Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers open a show with "Texas Plains". After one verse, the key shifted and Roy yodeled as the trio of Pioneers sang behind him - niftiest trick I'd ever seen! That signal moment sparked me to explore western music and yodeling. But before I could find out who had created all this wonderful music, I shoved off to the green forests of southern Oregon.
In Oregon, it hit me that I'd missed any chance to meet Bob Nolan. While I felt isolated, I did take solace in cowboy recordings, especially old Sons of the Pioneers radio shows featuring Bob's bouncy emcee work and unmatched songs. I came to believe that Bob Nolan had emblazoned the mountains, sky and water on all our hearts and collective psyche.
Over the years, my love and appreciation for his talents, work and care have only broadened. My son Nolan Bronson is named in honour of the Great Poet of the West. Bob Nolan's inspired work "The Touch of God's Hand" electrifies and awakens us to deeper meaning for what is all around. When he calls out "Take a look at the sky!" in "Chant of the Wanderer", we are invited to energize ourselves and absorb the world that is right here for us. His eloquence allows us to imagine how "shadows sway" and "cataracts spill".
Truly anchored in meaningful expression and unparalleled sensitivity, no song will capture your heart quite like a Bob Nolan tune. Thanks, Bob, for taking us "Way Out There".
Bob Nolan- Great Poet of the West
Reflections by Larry Wilder, Earth Day, 2014
Earth Day. Has Mother Nature ever had a more eloquent champion than Bob Nolan? He told us how "the tall shows run" and bid us to "follow the stream". We hold in awe - if not reverence - his compositions about his innate bond to the outdoors and then immerse ourselves into wild cowboy tunes that reveal frolics, paydays, barrooms and branding critters.
Forty years ago, Bob Nolan's views on overpopulation and the infestation of plastics into the oceans indicate a very forward thinker. He likewise did not relish A-bomb testing in his beloved desert. Pete Seeger, who was also concerned about pollution, often performed Bob's "Way Out There" as a vehicle to teach yodelling.
While Bob Nolan expressed unexcelled exuberance for Nature, he also embraced our hearts with thoughts original and truly reflective to twine with his distinctive melodies. Hosts of great songwriters have chipped in to construct our American musical heritage and personality. As one who loves the whole gamut of Americana music, I have taken the liberty to picky my top four. Apologies to the many great composers not mentioned.
My personal Mount Rushmore of songwriters is chosen from those who composed both melody and lyrics; omitted are the songwriting teams such as the Gershwins or Rodgers and Hart; Johnny Mercer, who often collaborated with a melodist; Jerome Kern with a lyricist; and Bob Dylan or the immortal Woody Guthrie, who could borrow traditional and popular melodies for their lyrics.
SONGWRITERS MOUNT RUSHMORE
1. Stephen Foster, our first great popular song composer; helped begin wht came to be Tin Pan Alley.
2. Irving Berlin, whose epic songs are never far from our lips and always in our hearts.
3. Cole Porter, master of the catchy, cleverly turned phrase, whether music or lyrical; and, naturally,
4. Bob Nolan, the eloquent sentinel of the beautiful, grand West.
All of these composers were starkly original and left us songs that have helped us interpret American landscape and our lives. Bob Nolan and Irving Berlin share some interesting facets: both were born outside the United State4s and neither read nor wrote much musical notation. Both wrote songs that stick right with us.
Of the four, Bob Nolan had the deepest appreciation of poetry. The lyrics and wandering melodies he rendered, coupled with unique chordal constructions and unexpected numbers of bars, have forged a brand on our country like no other musician, poet or writer.
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