Murfreesboro’s Fred Goodwin saddles up with PBS’s “History Detectives” to help decipher the meaning of a message penned on the sheet music to one of the most famous cowboy tunes of all time.
The writer was Bob Nolan, famed singer-songwriter of Sons of the Pioneers fame. The message reads: “To Fred – This was the second song I wrote – 1932. It has been both good and bad to me. Bob Nolan.”
“How could one of the most popular songs in the history of Western music be bad news?” asks Pat Kruis, the program’s publicist.
That’s what “History Detectives” host Eduardo Pagán sets out to find out, thus the trail led him to Goodwin, an expert on the singing Pioneers as well as co-author of book “The Sons of the Pioneers.”
As for the “Fred” that Nolan names in his notation, well, yep, that is Goodwin.
“He is the Fred, but there’s way more to it than that,” said Kruis of the show segment titled “Tumbling Tumbleweeds – The Luck and the Loss,” that airs at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 2, on WNPT-Channel 8.
“They called me and asked specifically about Bob Nolan and the music he wrote and about the bad and good,” said Goodwin, who is not allowed to spill the beans or get too specific about the information he shared for the segment.
The owner of Concept Productions, who deals in old movie and music memorabilia, mainly in the Western genre, was interviewed for the program by auctioneer and appraiser Elyse Luray last year in Colorado at the Denver Western Apparel Mart.
“It’s going to be interesting,” Goodwin says of the show. “Bob Nolan was one of most prolific writers of all time. He wrote Western music and a few pop songs. He’s right up there with Irving Berlin and Cole Porter.
“He wrote mainly Western standards and lots of music for the movies. Hammerstein called him ‘the poet of the West.’ You can’t do any better than ‘Cool Water’ and ‘Tumbling Tumbleweeds,’” Goodwin said about Nolan’s two biggest hits.
The Sons of the Pioneers were the first Western singing group to be heard on syndicated transcriptions across the United States. They originally formed as a trio with Roy Rogers, Tim Spencer and Nolan. Over the next couple of years, brothers Hugh and Karl Farr and Lloyd Perryman joined the band, and the group gained more fame while performing their music in Roy Rogers’ singing cowboy films. Nolan was a member of the Pioneers from 1934-1949 and died in 1980.
Other segments of Tuesday night’s episode explore “Kit Carson’s Family Secrets” and “Yakima Canutt’s Saddle.” (Canutt was a rodeo champion and doubled as a stuntman for such Hollywood stars as Errol Flynn, Clark Gable and John Wayne.)
“History Detectives” explores the nation’s past by uncovering the captivating history behind personal items that have puzzled their owners for years.
Each story begins with an artifact with a mysterious past. Like detectives stalking a suspect, researchers consult with experts and eyewitnesses; they use the latest forensic technology and they carefully comb through the historical archive. Layer by layer they peel back the secrets to reveal the connection between the artifact and key events in America’s past.