Saturday, April 20, 2013

R - Riders in the Sky

Whew!  I'm exhausted after the last two posts.  How about something a little lighter?

The above is the original title of the song we now know as “Ghost Riders in the Sky.”

As my father’s taste didn’t run much this side of the “Sons of the Pioneers,” (stay tuned for my Y post) this was one of the few songs we would play together. I never played The Band Song with him (see G – Guitar).

While I would be playing Dylan and the Beatles, he would be playing Jimmie Rogers “Waiting For a Train” (Recorded October 22, 1928) or “Shortnin’ Bread.”

I loved "Ghost Riders..." then, and we actually played it well.  I’d play chords, and Daddy would pick it.

Without question it’s my favorite Western song.

It has an ethereal eeriness that captures me, regardless of who sings it.  A ghostly quality, if you will.  And of all the versions I’ve heard from Burl Ives and Bing Crosby, to the Outlaws and the Australian alternative rock group Spiderbait, I’ve never heard a bad one.

Maybe that’s my own bias, though.

The following is a live version by Vaughn Monroe and his Orchestra, who had the first hit, in 1949, with … Ghost Riders in the Sky.

This version is from a live concert in 1965

Here’s that completely different version by Spiderbait.

And here’s an instrumental version in a jam session with the 78 year-old Roy Clark and the 73 year-old Buck Trent … unrehearsed.

Compare, and try several more versions!


  1. Burl Ives did the first recording of this song a year or two after I was born. I grew up with this song and I still love it.

  2. I love this song, and loved that the movie 'ghost rider' used it and had an old cowboy ghost rider and horse in it. Great post.

  3. A classic song indeed. I have a version on an album by the group Daniel Amos.

    An A to Z Co-Host
    Tossing It Out

  4. Thanks for the comments, folks! Yes, and Burl Ives's version, the first, is amazing! I love it. And yes, the song fit beautifully in the movie "Ghost Rider." I haven't heard that version by the Daniel Amos group, but I will search for it. As I said, I haven't heard a version of that song, I didn't like! :-)


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