Meanwhile, back at the ranch

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Meanwhile, back at the ranch ... is a phrase that is or was used in several ways. For example, it may be employed by narrators of American cowboy movies and TV shows to indicate a segue from one scene to another but there is often more to this than meets the eye. The expression originated as a stock subtitle in the silent movies of the early 1900s and at first the reference to the ranch was literal. Later, as the phrase became a cliche, it was used more and more loosely and with a growing sense of mockery or levity, often with a vague focus. In this manifestation the phrase came into such common use that it took on a life of its own and is still with us today. One might, for example, hear somebody say "Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Ronald Reagan was saving America from communism".

"Meanwhile back at the ranch" is the title of a children's book by Trinka Hakes Noble (published 1992); a crime novel by Kinky Friedman; of the first album of the German country band Texas Lightning; and is the root of the name of the English band Meanwhile, back in Communist Russia... (1999-2004). It is also the name of a song by Badfinger from the album Wish You Were Here (1974).