5 Rifleman episodes with great musical performances

There were folk songs, a ballad written specifically for the show and even one of Johnny Crawford’s 1960s singles!

While The Rifleman certainly wasn’t the only Western to incorporate musical performances, the classic series had an interesting mix of touching tunes, eerie ballads and even acoustic versions of pop singles.

While most of the songs were adapted from old folk refrains, there was also “Something Special” about a few melodies heard on the show.

Here are five episodes that paused the action and adventure to feature great musical moments.

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1. The Vision

While The Rifleman had no shortage of action and intensity, the father-son dynamic gave the show a sweeter side that other Westerns lacked. One of the show’s most touching moments came in Johnny Crawford’s favorite episode “The Vision.” After hearing a traveling fortuneteller sing “Oh That We Two Were Maying,” Mark comes down with typhoid fever. While sick in bed, he dreams about his mother (played by the same actress as the fortuneteller) who sings the same song to him, this time in a beautiful, ethereal voice.

2. A Young Man’s Fancy

It makes sense that most of the songs on The Rifleman were folk songs from the 1800s. But in “A Young Man’s Fancy” the show snuck in an early 1960s single. It was an acoustic guitar version of “Something Special,” a song off Johnny Crawford's 1962 album also titled A Young Man’s Fancy. Mark sang the song to his first crush played by fellow Mickey Mouse Club star Cheryl Holdridge.

3. None So Blind

The “glory, glory hallelujah” chorus of “Battle Hymn of the Republic” rang out a few times on The Rifleman. In “None So Blind” it served as a fitting end to a dramatic episode about two men caught up in a rivalry stemming from their past. Blind banjo player Lafayette Blye belts out the hymn in the middle of the street. Soon, everyone in North Fork joins in before the credits role.

4. The Challenge

The haunting ballad about outlaw Jake Pardee from the episode “The Challenge” was written specifically for The Rifleman. The tune was composed by Herschel Burke Gilbert with lyrics by Alfred Perry. Gilbert wrote the iconic theme song for the series and he and Perry also came up with Johnny Crawford’s “Something Special.” One line in the song, sung by “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” vocalist Thurl Ravenscroft, mentions “Peckinpah’s saloon.” It’s a nod to Sam Peckinpah, who wrote six early episodes (including the pilot) before directing films like The Wild Bunch and The Ballad of Cable Hogue.

5. Old Tony

The Rifleman saved one of its best musical performances for last. “Old Tony” revolves around Mark and his girlfriend Lorrie, played by Leave it to Beaver’s Karen Sue Trent, softening the rough edges of the cantankerous title character who lives alone in the woods. When Tony mentions his love for the song “Greensleeves,” Mark sings a beautiful rendition of the tune while accompanying himself on guitar.

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Michael 1 day ago
This just in. Roger Mosley has died. "TC" on the original Magnum PI, he also played Leadbelly in the movie if the same name from 1976.
ELEANOR 1 day ago
And the regular music on The Rifleman is wonderful. It is so distinctive that I always know that The Rifleman is on even if I'm in another room of the house.
eddiecantorfan 1 day ago
Cheryl Holdrige was a great actress on both The Rifleman and on Leave It To Beaver playing Julie Foster.
GTStang08 3 days ago
I really enjoyed when Johnny sang "Greensleeves" in the series finale "Old Tony". He was a bit comical the second time he sang "Something Special" to Sally...always looking back at her as to say, "Are you payin' attention to me?"...lol
CreatureFeatureFan 3 days ago
The Rifleman was an exceptional show, with something for everyone.
daDoctah 3 days ago
"Battle Hymn of the Republic" is important in the time period depicted in the series because it was popular, with different lyrics, on both sides of the Civil War. Later, in World War II, the song "Lilli Marlene" was similarly popular with both French and German participants.
Andybandit 3 days ago
I never heard Johnny Crawford sing, I am sure he sounded good.
RobertM Andybandit 3 days ago
He once recorded a song called "Cindy's Birthday".
RedSamRackham RobertM 15 hours ago
* That's the reason I admired and respected the Leave It To Beaver lads for never trying to be Top 40 pop singer stars. Okay, Jerry did release a song but it is indeed forgotten. ♣ ☺
Robertp 4 days ago
I remember them all. Thanks for reminding me, ME TV.
Mike 4 days ago
A brief shout-out here for Cliff Osmond, who played Lafayette Blye in "None So Blind".
This was his first TV acting appearance, starting off a lengthy and versatile career in both TV and movies.
The movies include four with director Billy Wilder (including "The Fortune Cookie", in which he played the sleazy private eye).
Mainly, Cliff Osmond was a frequent TV guest star; check IMDb for a very long list of credits.
McGillahooala Mike 3 days ago
He had a great appearance on Gunsmoke as a man who was about to be hanged for killing a well to do resident’s son.
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