January 16

Marty Robbins’ “(Ghost) Riders in the Sky” Is An American Classic 

Film and TV actor Stan Jones’ 1948 song “(Ghost) Riders in the Sky,” which he wrote himself, became a crossover hit after Vaughn Monroe recorded it a year after. Its newfound popularity encouraged singers from various backgrounds to make their own cover of the song. One that stood out and became a Western music standard was Marty Robbins’ version. 

Stan Jones’ inspiration to write “Ghost Riders in the Sky” came from a folk tale he heard as a kid. The tale involved ghostly riders chasing cattle across the sky, and this haunting image stuck with him through the years. He eventually became a cowboy and a park ranger in the southwestern area of the US, where he spent most of his time admiring the West’s vast landscapes and living the cowboys’ lifestyle as he heard from the tales when he was little.

Though he didn’t have an encounter with the ghostly riders in the sky, he still basked in the lifestyle and beauty of the “West.” It fueled his creativity for Western music imagery, manifested by how vividly he described what it was like to be in the “West.” 

In Robbins’ rendition of the track, his voice evoked the feeling of fear, wonder, and mystery, giving depth and emotion. It also had that distinct feel of authenticity, as if someone in a bar told you the story about ghost cowboys wrangling up a herd of cattle in the sky. The only difference is they were a hundred percent convinced that the story was real. While it didn’t specifically win any awards, it was still a monumental part of Western Music.

Aside from “(Ghost) Riders in the Sky,” Marty Robbins had numerous hits throughout his career, including classics like “El Paso,” “Big Iron,” “Don’t Worry,” and “Devil Woman.” “El Paso” earned him a Grammy Award in 1961. (If you’re down to hear some great country classics, Marty Robbins’ songs should be on your list.)

If you’re into folk tales, then you should definitely go and listen to Marty Robbins’ “(Ghost) Riders in the Sky” in the video below. 


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