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Best Cowboy Songs of All Time

Updated on November 2, 2017

What Are the Top Cowboy Songs?

In the past 30 years or so, the popularity of the western movie has declined. Along with that, very few cowboy songs have been recorded. Frankly, I miss them. Some very good old cowboy songs were recorded over the years. Most people have heard of them and even know the tunes. Unfortunately, it is very hard to hear these cowboy songs on the radio today.

Read the lens and learn about some of the most famous cowboy songs ever recorded! (In no particular order)

Strawberry Roan, by Marty Robbins

I was laying round town just spending my time,

Out of a job and not makin' a dime

When up steps a feller and says, "I suppose

That you're a bronc rider by the look of your clothes?"

He guesses me right. "And a good one I'll claim.

Do you happen to have any bad ones to tame?"

He says he's got one that's a good one to buck,

And at throwing good riders he's had lots of luck.

He says this old pony has never been rode

And the man that gets on him is bound to be throwed.

I gets all excited and I ask what he pays

To ride this old nag for a couple of days.

He says "ten dollars." I says "I'm your man;

The bronc never lived that I cannot fan;

The bronc never tried nor never drew breath

That I cannot ride till he starves plumb to death."

He says, "Get your saddle. I'll give you a chance."

We got in the buck board and went to the ranch.

We waited till morning, right after chuck

I went out to see if that outlaw could buck.

Down in the horse corral, standin' alone,

Was this little old caballo, a strawberry roan.

He had little pin ears that touched at the tip

And a big forty-four brand was on his left hip.

We was spavined all around and he had pigeon toes,

Little pig eyes and a big Roman nose.

He was u-necked an old with a long lower jaw-

You could tell at a glance he was a regular outlaw.

I buckled on my spurs, I was feeling plumb fine,

I pulled down my hat and curls up my twine,

I threw the loop on him, right well I knew then,

Before I had rode him I'd sure earn my ten.

I got the blind on him with a terrible fight,

Cinched on the saddle and girded it tight;

Then I steps up on him and pulled down the blind

And sat there in the saddle to see him unwind.

He bowed his old neck and I'll say he unwound,

He seemed to quit living down there on the ground;

He went up to the east and came down to the west

With me in the saddle a doin' my best.

He sure was a frog walker', I heaved a big sigh,

He only lacked wings for to be on the fly;

He turned his old belly right up to the sun,

for he was a sun fishin' son of a gun.

He was the worst bronco I've seen on the range,

He could turn on a nickel and leave you some change.

While he was buckin' he squalled like a shoat,

I tell you that outlaw, he sure got my goat.

I tell all the people that pony could step

And I was still on him a-buildin' a rep;

He came down on all fours and turned up his side,

I don't see how he kept from losin' his hide.

I lost my stirrup, I lost my hat,

I was a pullin' at leather as blind as a bat;

With a phenomenal jump he made a high dive

And set me a-winding up there through the sky.

I turned forty flips and came down to the earth

And sit there a-cussin' the day of his birth.

I know there's some ponies that I cannot ride,

Some of them living, they haven't all died.

But I bet all my money there's no man alive

That can ride Old Strawberry when he makes his high dive.

Yellow Rose of Texas, sung by Mitch Miller

The Yellow Rose of Texas was a woman fair to see

Though many loved her beauty, she lived in slavery,

When war was fought in Texas and the battles shook our lives

General Santa Anna took Emily as a prize.

Cho: She's the sweetest rose of color that Texas ever knew

Her eyes are bright as diamonds, they sparkle like the dew,

You may talk about your Clementine, And sing of Rosa Lee

But the Yellow Rose of Texas is the only girl for me.

He tried to win her favors, thought himself a dashing man

But his courtship she rejected, and she stole his battle plan;

Then sent it to Sam Houston, for this she found a way

And so the Union Army fought and won the day.

Where the Rio Grande is flowing lived a woman brave and fine

A heroine of the people and honored in her time

The Yellow Rose of Texas has long been laid to rest

But history would be different without the lovely Emily West

Clementine

In a canyon, in a cavern, excavating for a mine,

lived a miner, forty niner and his daughter Clementine.

Oh my darlin', oh my darlin' oh my darlin, Clementine,

you are lost and gone forever, dreadful sorry Clementine.

Light she was, just like a fairy and her shoes were number nine,

herring boxes without topses, sandals were for Clementine.

Led her ducklings to the water every morning just at nine,

it her foot upon a splinter, fell into the foaming brine.

Ruby lips above the water blowing bubbles soft and fine,

But alas I was no swimmer and I lost my Clementine.

Do Not Forake me Oh My Darling, by Tex Ritter

Do not forsake me, oh, my darlin',

On this, our wedding day.

Do not forsake me, oh, my darlin',

Wait; wait alone.

I do not know what fate awaits me.

I only know I must be brave.

For I must face a man who hates me,

Or lie a coward, a craven coward;

Or lie a coward in my grave.

Oh, to be torn 'twixt love an' duty.

S'posin' I lose my fair-haired beauty.

Look at that big hand move along,

Nearing high noon.

He made a vow while in state prison:

Vowed it would be my life for his an',

I'm not afraid of death but, oh, what shall I do,

If you leave me?

Do not forsake me, oh, my darlin':

You made that promise as a bride.

Do not forsake me, oh, my darlin'.

Although you're grievin', don't think of leavin',

Now that I need you by my side.

Wait along, (Wait along.)

Wait along.

Wait along. (Wait along, wait along, wait along, wait along.)

Back in the Saddle Again, by Gene Autry

I'm back in the saddle again, out where a friend is a friend,

Where the long horn cattle feed on the lonely jimsonweed

I'm back in the saddle again.

Ridin' the range once more, totin' my old forty-four,

Where you sleep out every night and the only law is right,

Back in the saddle again.

Whoopi ti yi yo, rockin' to a fro, back in the saddle again

Whoopi ti yi yea, I'll go my own way

Back in the saddle again.

Ghost Riders in the Sky, by Johnny Cash

An old cowpoke went ridin' out

one dark and windy day

Upon a ridge he rested

as he went along his way

When all at once a mighty herd

of red eyed cows he saw

A plowin' through the ragged skies

and up a cloudy draw

Yippie I Ay, Yippie I Oh

Ghost herd in the sky

Their brands were still on fire

and their hooves were made of steel

Their horns were black and shiny

and their hot breath he could feel

A bolt of fear went through him

as they thundered through the sky

He saw the riders coming hard

and he heard their mournful cry

Yippie I Ay, Yippie I Oh

Ghost riders in the sky

Their face is gaunt their eyes were blurred

their shirts all soaked with sweat

They're ridin' hard to catch that herd

but they 'aint caught 'em yet

'Cause they've got to ride forever

in the range up in the sky

On horses snorting fire

as they ride hard hear them cry

Yippie I Ay, Yippie I Oh

Ghost riders in the sky

The riders 'loped on by him

he heard one call his name

If you want to save your soul

from hell a riding on our range

then cowboy change your ways today

or with us you will ride

Tryin' to catch this devil herd

across these endless skies

Yippie I Ay, Yippie I Oh

Ghost riders in the sky

Ghost riders in

Ghost riders in the sky

Red River Valley, by Marty Robbins

From this valley they say you are going,

I shall miss your sweet face and bright smile.

For they say you are taking the sunshine

That has brightened my pathway awhile.

I've been thinking a long time my darling,

Of those sweet words you never would say,

But the last of my fond hopes have vanished

For they say you are going away.

(chorus)

Then come sit here awhile ere you leave us

Do not hasten to bid us adieu,

And remember the Red River Valley

And the cowboy who loves you so true.

I have promised you, darling, that never

Would words from my lips cause you pain;

My life will be yours forever

If only you sill love me again.

There never could be such a longing

In the heart of a poor cowboys breast,

As dwells in this heart you are breaking

While I wait in my home in the west.

Do you think of this valley you are leaving,

Oh, how lonely and dreary it will be?

Do you think of the kind hearts you are breaking,

And the pain you are causing to me?

Which is Your Favorite Cowboy Group?

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Streets of Laredo, by Jim Reeves

As I walked out on the streets of Laredo,

As I walked out in Laredo one day,

I spied a young cowboy all wrapped in white linen

Wrapped in white linen as cold as the clay.

(chorus)

"Oh, beat the drum slowly and play the fife lowly,

Play the Dead March as you carry me along,

Take me to the green valley and lay the sod o'er me

For I'm a young cowboy and I know I've done wrong."

"I see by your outfit that you are a cowboy"

These words he did say as I boldly stepped by,

"Come sit down beside me and hear my sad story,

I was shot in the breast and I know I must die."

"Let sixteen gamblers come handle my coffin,

Let sixteen cowboys come sing me a song,

Take me to the graveyard and lay the sod o'er me

For I'm a poor cowboy and I know I've done wrong."

"My friends and relations, they live in the Nation,

They know not where their boy has gone,

He first came to Texas and hired to a ranchman

Oh, I'm a young cowboy and I know I've done wrong."

"Go write a letter to my gray-haired mother,

And carry the same to my sister so dear,

But not a word of this shall you mention

When a crowd gathers round you my story to hear."

"Then beat your drum slowly and play your fife lowly,

Beat the Dead March as you carry me along,

We all love our cowboys so young and so handsome,

We all love our cowboys although they've done wrong."

"There is another more dear than a sister

She'll bitterly weep when she hears I am gone,

There is another who will win her affections,

For I'm a young cowboy and they say I've done wrong."

"Go gather around you a crowd of young cowboys,

And tell them the story of this, my sad fate;

Tell one and the other before they go further

To stop their wild roving before 'tis too late."

"Oh muffle your drums, then play your fifes merrily

Play the Dead March as you go along

And fire your guns right over my coffin,

There goes an unfortunate boy to his home."

"It was once in the saddle I used to go dashing

Once in the saddle I used to go gay,

First down to the dram-house and then to the card house

Got shot in the breast, I am dying today."

"Get six jolly cowboys to carry my coffin,

Get six pretty maidens to carry my pall,

Put bunches of roses all over my coffin,

Put roses to deaden the clods as they fall."

"Then swing your rope slowly, and rattle your spurs lowly,

And give a wild whoop as you carry me along,

And in the grave throw me and roll the sod o'er me

For I'm a young cowboy and I know I've done wrong."

"Go bring me a cup, a cup of cold water

To cool my parched lips," the cowboy said;

Before I turned, the spirit had left him

And gone to its Giver --- the cowboy was dead.

We beat the drum slowly and played the fife lowly,

And bitterly wept as we bore him along,

For we all loved our comrade, so brave, young and handsome,

We all loved our comrade although he'd done wrong.

El Paso, by Marty Robbins

Out in the West Texas town of El Paso

I fell in love with a Mexican girl.

Night-time would find me in Rosa's cantina;

Music would play and Felina would whirl.

Blacker than night were the eyes of Felina,

Wicked and evil while casting a spell.

My love was deep for this Mexican maiden;

I was in love but in vain, I could tell.

One night a wild young cowboy came in,

Wild as the West Texas wind.

Dashing and daring,

A drink he was sharing

With wicked Felina,

The girl that I loved.

So in anger I challenged his right for the love of this maiden.

Down went his hand for the gun that he wore.

My challenge was answered in less than a heart-beat;

The handsome young stranger lay dead on the floor.

Just for a moment I stood there in silence,

Shocked by the foul evil deed I had done.

Many thoughts raced through my mind as I stood there;

I had but one chance and that was to run.

Out through the back door of Rosa's I ran,

Out where the horses were tied.

I caught a good one.

It looked like it could run.

Up on its back

And away I did ride,

Just as fast as I could from the West Texas town of El Paso

Out to the badlands of New Mexico.

Back in El Paso my life would be worthless.

Everything's gone in life; nothing is left.

It's been so long since I've seen the young maiden

My love is stronger than my fear of death.

I saddled up and away I did go,

Riding alone in the dark.

Maybe tomorrow

A bullet may find me.

Tonight nothing's worse than this

Pain in my heart.

And at last here I am on the hill overlooking El Paso;

I can see Rosa's cantina below.

My love is strong and it pushes me onward.

Down off the hill to Felina I go.

Off to my right I see five mounted cowboys;

Off to my left ride a dozen or more.

Shouting and shooting I can't let them catch me.

I have to make it to Rosa's back door.

Something is dreadfully wrong for I feel

A deep burning pain in my side.

Though I am trying

To stay in the saddle,

I'm getting weary,

Unable to ride.

But my love for Felina is strong and I rise where I've fallen,

Though I am weary I can't stop to rest.

I see the white puff of smoke from the rifle.

I feel the bullet go deep in my chest.

From out of nowhere Felina has found me,

Kissing my cheek as she kneels by my side.

Cradled by two loving arms that I'll die for,

One little kiss and Felina, good-bye.

Cool Water, by Hank Williams

All day I face the barren waste without the taste of water,

Cool water.

Old Dan and I with throats burned dry and souls that cry for water,

Cool water.

The night are cool and I'm a fool each stars a pool of water,

Cool water.

But with the dawn I'll wake and yawn and carry on to water,

Cool water.

(chorus)

Keep a movin' Dan, don't you listen to him Dan, he's a devil not a man

and he spreads the burnin' sand with water.

Dan can't you see that big green tree where the waters runnin' free

and it's waiting there for me and you.

Water, cool water.

The shadows sway and seem to say tonight we pray for water,

Cool water.

And way up there He'll hear our prayer and show us where there's water,

Cool Water.

Dan's feet are sore he's yearning for just one thing more than water,

Cool water.

Like me, I guess, he'd like to rest where there's no quest for water,

Cool water.

New Guestbook Comments

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    • laurenjane13 profile image

      laurenjane13 

      6 years ago

      Great lens! If you are looking ranch and western saddle, visit this site - http://dryforksaddle.com/

    • hughgrissettsr lm profile image

      hughgrissettsr lm 

      7 years ago

      rockin lens! my favorite is red river valley by gene autry, marty robbins, the sons of the pioneers etc.

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