Music

The 'Bonanza' Theme Song Had Multiple Sets of Rarely-Heard Lyrics

Just like the Andy Griffith Show's whistle-along theme, the up-tempo intro song for NBC's classic TV series Bonanza has seldom-heard lyrics.

Composers Ray Evans and Jay Livingston get credit for the official lyrics, which read as Ben Cartwright's (Lorne Greene) grain elevator speech about the Ponderosa Ranch. The lyrics mention Cartwright sons Hoss (Dan Blocker), Little Joe (Michael Landon) and Adam (Pernell Roberts).

It's a well-crafted story-song (especially when it's sung by Greene) about one of the best-written television series of its time.

Per the website Ponderosa Scenery, the lyrics replaced an early suggestion for a campy tale about the Cartwright's fighting skills and track records with romance.

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The familiar instrumental version of the TV theme became a Top 20 pop hit in 1961 for Al Caiola and His Orchestra.

In 1962, Johnny Cash wrote new lyrics with Johnny Western. Despite the show's popularity, Cash's more succinct take barely cracked the Billboard Top 100.

Bonanza Theme Song Lyrics

We chased lady luck, 'til we finally struck Bonanza.
With a gun and a rope and a hat full of hope, planted a family tree.
We got hold of a potful of gold, Bonanza.
With a horse and a saddle, and a range full of cattle, how rich can a fellow be?

On this land we put our brand Cartwright is the name, fortune smiled, the day we filed the Ponderosa claim.
Here in the West, we're livin' the best, Bonanza
If anyone fights any one of us, he's go a fight with me
Bonanza.

Hoss and Joe and Adam know every rock and pine/ No one works, fights or eats, like those boys of mine.
Here we stand in the middle of a grand Bonanza.
With a gun and a rope and a hatful of hope, we planted our family tree
We got hold of a pot full of gold, Bonanza.

With a houseful of friends where the rainbow ends, how rich can a fellow be?
On this land we put our brand, Cartwright is the name, fortune smiled, the day we filed the Ponderosa claim.
Here in the west we're livin' in the best Bonanza.

With the friendliest, fightingist, loving band, that ever set foot in the promised land
And we're happier than them all.
That's why we call it Bonanza...Bonanza...Bonanza...
Bonanza!

"Bonanza" (Johnny Cash Version) Lyrics

The claim we hold is as good as gold, bonanza
Hand in hand we built this land, the Ponderosa Ranch
Our birthright is this Cartwright bonanza
We here belong, and standing strong, wrong ain't got a chance

Day by day, work or play, ready side by side
Hello friend, come on in, the gate is open wide
Bound to be a fightin' free bonanza,
Singing pines of boundary lines for the Ponderosa Ranch.

Every tree and flower is part of our bonanza
The stars at night, the morning light, water in the branch
We ride along four men strong together
Every plain and ridge is our heritage: Ponderosa Ranch

Day by day, work or play, ready side by side.
Hello friend, come on in, the gate is open wide.
Bound to be a fightin' free bonanza,
Singing pines of boundary lines for the Ponderosa Ranch

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The 'Bonanza' Theme Song Had Multiple Sets of Rarely-Heard Lyrics