Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Outlaws - Ghost Riders In The Sky

One of the great things about Country Music is that if you don't like a song, someone else is likely to cover it, and do it a really different way. I didn't care much for the song (although Johnny Cash's version on The Muppet Show was pretty funny). But everyone has done this song (really - including Bing Crosby), so I just had to keep looking until I found a version I liked.

The Outlaws are a Southern Rock band out of Tampa. Playing clubs and Honky Tonks, they were found by Lynyrd Skynyrd front man Ronnie Van Zant, who got Lynyrd Skynyrd's manager working with them. Rocking this song up, and adding some screaming guitar was just the ticket, taking it to #31 on the Billboard chart in 1980. The old, made new again.

I particularly like the opening classical guitar, and the distortion on the electric guitar throughout the song, which gives this version much more of a ghostly edge. And if the guitar solo at the end isn't in Guitar Hero, it's a crime. Southern Rock, baby!

Ghost Riders In The Sky (Songwriter: Stan Jones)
An old cowboy went riding 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-plowing through the ragged sky and up the cloudy draw

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
For he saw the Riders coming hard and he heard their mournful cry

Yippie yi Ohhhhh
Yippie yi yaaaaay
Ghost Riders in the sky

Their faces gaunt, their eyes were blurred, their shirts all soaked with sweat
He's riding hard to catch that herd, but he ain't caught 'em yet
'Cause they've got to ride forever on that range up in the sky
On horses snorting fire
As they ride on hear their cry

As 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
Trying to catch the Devil's herd, across these endless skies

Yippie yi Ohhhhh
Yippie yi Yaaaaay

Ghost Riders in the sky
Ghost Riders in the sky
Ghost Riders in the sky
Sadly, The Outlaws' frontman Hughie Thomasson died of a heart attack in 2007. May he be making this sort of music with the Choir Invisible.

UPDATE 27 March 2010 20:01: A worthy alternative cover here.


Anonymous said...

Saw the Outlaws a loooonngg time ago. Enjoyed listening to them and have one or two of their albums...yes albums...big vinyl disks with grooves in them. Need a turntable to play know a turntable phongragh, record player...sigh....

Anonymous said...

I firmly approve of this.


TOTWTYTR said...

I like the song, but not this version. Which I think was the point of your post. I do like the Marty Robbins version, as well as the original Gene Autry version.

According the highly authoritative Wikipedia, there are 50 different covers of this song.

I'll be posting the Marty Robbins one at my blog since I'm falling behind on other stuff do to you know what. :)

Borepatch said...

TOTWTYTR, that's why I said that one of the great things about Country Music is that if you don't like a song, someone else will do a cover that you like.


WoFat said...

Seems to me I heard Frankie Lane sing this, when I was a kid. Yea many moons ago.

Unknown said...

I said the same thing on TOT's blog: while I like Marty Robbins' version, this is the one that does it for me. Mainly because I've always liked The Outlaws.

Too bad about Hughie Thomasson, but I think you're right about his aiding the band from another plane...

Anonymous said...

What I would have liked is for the Outlaws to have done a complete version of the song. They left out the last stanza :(