Robert Heinlein tried for years to get a story into The Saturday Evening Post and it was with this story, The Green Hills of Earth, that he finally succeeded in 1947. The Post accepted several more Heinlein stories in quick succession following this one.
"This is the story of Riesling, the singer of the spaceways ..." The story begins to the strumming and mournful whistle of its titular character, a "jet-man" (engineer), troubador, jokester, drunkard, and vagabond. Tom Glazer crafted the music, which is the standout element in the production. I find myself humming the tunes for hours or even days after listening to the show and wishing that they weren't just snippets of fictitious songs.
The main character, though a bit trite, is well-developed, and the 30 minute production manages to paint the last years of the spaceman's life with an epic brush. I suppose there are a few people out there who will listen to this one and snicker, or finish the show with a resounding "So what?" Not me. Damn my romantic soul, but I actually got a lump in my throat at one point.
The title of the story refers to a particular song created by Rhysling, which he modifies and adapts throughout his travels. Heinlein stole the title of the song from Shambleau, a great little short story by C. L. Moore. In Shambleau, Moore writes that Northwest Smith hums The Green Hills of Earth to himself as he walks through a Martian city, just before he encounters an alien girl who is being chased out of town by a mob.
The radio show is preceded by a Christmas message from the President Harry Truman beseeching Americans to pray for the troops in Korea.
Dimension X #32
The Green Hills of Earth
24 Dec 1950
Robert Heinlein (author), ? (adaptation), ? (voice talents), Harry Truman, Tom Glazer (music), William Welch (producer), Norman Rose (host), Edward King (director), Bob Warren (announcer), Bob Denton (announcer for President Truman)