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Open Range Ahead

(Bob Nolan)


Some folks will spend a lifetime

Searching far and near

For something that’s always been waitin’,

Waitin’ for them right here.



If you like a lot of room around to roam in,

Where any place you stop your heart’s at home in,

If you like to see a campfire in the gloamin’,

There’s an open range ahead.

If you like the sound of lazy cattle lowin’,

Where miles o’ sage and tumbleweeds are growin’,

Then it’s time you knew the only place you’re goin’

Is an open range ahead.


Up in the sky keep a bright sun shinin’,

Out of the West let a clean wind blow,

Here in your heart there will be no pinin’

For somewhere else to go.

If you like to hear the prairie wind a-wailin’

And watch the snowy clouds above a-sailin’,

You can bet your life your heart will soon be trailin’

To an open range ahead.


Painting by Marco Mazzoni

        "Open Range Ahead" might easily have been the young Bob Nolan's theme song - or one of them. "Footloose and fancy free" was his dream or fantasy all his life although, because of his work and his wife, he lead a somewhat conventional life. He wanted to travel, he wanted to see all of the world. With the money that should have come to him from his "Tumbling Tumbleweeds", he would have been able to travel constantly. "Tumbling Tumbleweeds" made the music publishers rich but Bob didn't see much from it.

        Bob wrote "Open Range Ahead" for Columbia's "Outlaws of the Prairie" in 1937. The Sons of the Pioneers recorded it right away. The song was registered for copyright on October 9, 1937. In 1939 the sheet music was included in "Bob Nolan’s Folio No. 1", American Music, Inc and the Sons of the Pioneers recorded it on the Orthacoustic Radio Transcriptions in 1940. Two years later, Republic Pictures used it in a Roy Rogers picture, "South of Santa Fe".


Sons of the Pioneers' Recordings:

1937 12 15 Outlaws of the Prairie soundtrack

1937 10 26 Col (unissued)

1937 Vo-OK 03880

1940 Orthacoustic


1942 02 17 South of Santa Fe soundtrack

1950s Smokey the Bear transcription

Rex Allen Show


Others' Recordings

Ken Curtis

Lobo Rangers

Robert Wagoner


TRANSCRIPTIONS with "Open Range Ahead"



Typed copy of the lyrics from the repertoire box.


Typed copy of the lyrics from the repertoire box.



Orthacoustic "Symphonies of the Sage" (064352)

Teleways Transcriptions: #47 and 90

Lucky U programs courtesy of Larry Hopper:

23 November 1951. Transcription Disc TR-113, 114
25 December 1951. Transcription Disc TR-162, 163
11 February 1952. Transcription Disc TR-234, 235
16 January 1952. Transcription Disc TR-194, 195
24 March 1952. Transcription Disc TR-294, 295
15 May 1952. Transcription Disc TR-369, 370
28 July 1952. Transcription Disc TR-451, 452
20 October 1952. Transcription Disc TR-525, 526
9 February 1953. Transcription Disc TR-684, 685   


Smokey the Bear 1955: Show #4