The Five Best Western Songs

The iconic closing shot of “The Hanging Tree.”

Guest blogger Rick29 writes:

The following list represents one fan’s rankings of the five best Western songs. I’m excluding pop songs that appeared in Westerns (“Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head”) as well as Western musicals (Annie Get Your Gun, most films with Gene Autry). I’m sure there will be some dissenting opinions, especially since perhaps the most famous of Western songs comes in at No. 4. But hey, a little lively disagreement is a good thing on a classic movie blog!

1.” The Hanging Tree” (Max David & Jerry Livington) – Easily my favorite of the Western “story songs” (it also summarizes the film’s theme). After I saw the Gary Cooper movie of the same name, the song stuck in my head to the point that I had to special-order the Marty Robbins recording on a vinyl 45 (yes, that was before MP3 downloads). The song was a minor hit for Robbins on the charts, but it has aged beautifully.

2. “3:10 to Yuma” (George Duning and Ned Washington) –  I’ll differ from the majority who site Gunfight at the OK Corral as the best of the Frankie Laine-sung Western themes. Yuma is a moody, almost sad piece…a stark contrast to the usual uptempo Western song.

3. “Gunfight at the OK Corral” (Dimitri Tiomkin & Ned Washington) – I can just hear Frankie Laine crooning: “O-K…Cor-ral…O-K…Cor-ral…” As much as I love the music, I feel compelled to shed the spotlight on Ned Washington, who penned the lyrics for several great Western tunes. The following deceptively simple lyric is a fine example of his talent:

Boot hill, Boot hill

So cold, so still

There they lay side by side

The killers that died

In the gunfight at OK Corral

Gary Cooper in “High Noon.”

4. “The Ballad of High Noon” (aka “Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin'”) – Probably the most influential song on this list, it won an Oscar and turned into a big hit for the already-popular Tex Ritter. In fact, Ritter sang it on the first Academy Awards telecast in 1953. It ranked No. 25 on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Songs.

5. “Friendly Persuasion” (Dimitri Tiomkin & Paul Francis Webster) – An untraditional song for an untraditional Western (some may argue it’s not a Western, but the Civil War subplot is central to the story). Pat Boone recorded the song in 1956 for one of his biggest hits.

Honorable mentions include songs from How the West Was WonBlazing Saddles, and True Grit.

What’s your favorite song from a Western? Sound off in the comments, pardner!

Rick29 is a film reference book author and a regular contributor at the Classic Film & TV Café ( ,on Facebook:, and Twitter He’s a big fan of MovieFanFare, too, of course!

  • Ray Munson

    Interesting list, actually a list of 5 songs written as titles of “western” movies. I don’t understand the rartional for keeping Gene, & I suppose Roy as well off the list there are lots of great songs in Gene’s films. There are also a fair number of great songs in John Wayne films. Way too many to stop at 5,in what are truely western films.

  • Ed Schenker

    If the song doesn’t require lyrics then you can’t omit themes like The Magnificent Seven and The Big Country.

  • jake gittes

    My two favorites are The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The Tin Star and the battle of the Alamo/The Green Leaves of Summer.

  • F.G. Kaye

    How could you forget the music from Sergio Leonie’s
    Man With No Name Western Trilogy.

  • peter mattingly

    the music from once upon a time in the west and the good the bad the ugly

  • John Primavera

    It’s no coincidence that three of the top five
    movies you cite star Gary Cooper in them. He
    stood unrivaled when it came to the genre. The
    same is said for Dimitri Tiomkin’s songs. Another
    gem is “The Ballad of Black Gold” by Tiomkin from
    another Cooper western called “Blowing Wild” sung
    by – – who else? – – Frankie Laine in 1953.

  • mike jaral

    to me the best western song is Cool water, by the sons of the pioneers, second is the marlboro song from the magnificent seven, and 3rd, has to be do not forsake me from high noon. honorable mention goes to rawhide.

  • Rick29

    The definition of “song” is “a short musical composition of words and music.” So “themes” (with no words) like “The Magnificent 7” and “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” don’t count for this list. Nice Frankie Laine additions!

  • Charles Northcote

    The first song that came to mind for me was “The Ballad of Cat Ballou” from Cat Ballou. I can still picture Nat King Cole and Stubby Kaye strolling the dusty streets and acting as a kind of bizarre Greek chorus to this comedy classic western. Still makes me laugh.

  • Jerry Hightower

    I always liked The Red Headed Stranger with Willie Nelson.

  • Richard Dicks

    I love H”igh Noon” and “Hanging Tree”. One won the Accademy Award and the other was Nominated At least mention ought to go to “the Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”, though I am not sure if it is in the movie, is it? Frankly, my favorites were “Home in the Meadow” from How the West was Won and “Green Leaves of Summer” from the Alamo.

  • Mike Palmer

    My favorites is the music from Red River by Dimitri Tiomkin.
    Second best is The Big Country theme.

  • Matt Gaffney

    The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance & She Wore A Yellow Ribbon. Both from great John Ford/John Wayne movies. Also My Darling Clementine from the great John Ford/Henry Fonda movie of the same name. Admittedly these mean more to me because of my love for these movies.

  • Danny Turner

    How could you leave out “My rifle, pony, and me” sung by Dean Martin and Rick Nelson in Rio Bravo?? Also “I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen”, sung by Ken Curtis in John Fords Rio Grande???

  • Classic Movie Lover

    I agree with Peter Mattingly. Once Upon a Time in the West and the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

    Also, what about How the West was Won????

  • Tony Vlachos

    How about “Street of Larado” sung by John Wayne to the baby in “Three Godfathers”.

    “As I walked out in the streets of Laredo
    As I walked out in Laredo one day
    I spied a poor cowboy wrapped up in white linen
    All wrapped in white linen as cold as the clay”

    It’s between that and “Cool Water” by Sons of the Pioneers.

  • Steve

    How can anyone pick ‘hanging tree’, which would be in my top 5 without pick’n ‘the man who shot liberty valance’ Gene Pitey’s greatest hit since town without pity….also Marty Robbins version of ‘The Alamo’..not to mention the theme from the Alamo …..High Noon, Jezebel, also lets not forget lorne Greenes..Ringo and Waco or Deans..5 card stud….and ‘my rifle pony and me’ from Rio Bravo..probably the all time best after Liberty valance. the list could go on….depending on personal choices

  • K A French

    I agree with Mr. Turner. When I think Western song, the first one I think of is “My Rifle, My Pony & M.” Maybe because I’m both a Dino & Rick Nelson fan.

    • Wayne Hutchens

      I love that streight from the hart and stayed with me long enough to pick it up on my piano. My Rifle pony and me. Great…

  • buzzy

    I love the whole soundtrack from WagonMaster. And can’t forget She wore a yellow ribbon. Or North to Alaska.

  • Frank Lipsik

    Pretty good list. I would certainly add “The Man Without A Star” again by Frankie Laine, maybe instead of “Friendly Persuasion”.

  • christina

    i was a teenager when gene pitney’s ‘the man who shot liberty valance’ was a hit’ my favorite john ford western. but, don’t forget the son’s of the pioneers, their songs were wonderful.

  • SteveinSedona

    The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance wasn’t used in the movie, although I have no idea why.
    Best movie songs:
    Ballad of the Alamo
    High Noon
    Gunfight at OK Corral

    If you expand the list to include TV, the hands-down winner would be Rawhide (Frankie Laine again)
    also: The Ballad of Davy Crockett, The Ballad of Paladin, and Wyatt Earp.

  • Nora

    I still get chills every time I hear “Ghost Riders in the Sky” by Gene Autry.

  • Chuck Neumann

    I like your list. Frankie Laine sure could sing western songs, his “High Noon” was great too even though Tex Ritter sang it in the film. I would drop Friendly Persuasion” and add the theme song of “How The West Was Won”. The music was written by Alfred Newman – the most honered of all film musical composers/musical directors – and is very stirring and unforgotable.

  • jaime

    One of my very favorites is the song at the beginning and end of John Ford´s THE SEARCHERS..

  • Allan Murphy

    Danny Turner mentioned “My rifle, my pony and me” from Rio Bravo, a fine duet by Ricky Nelson and Dean Martin (Walter Brennan even chimes in on a few notes). Those were new lyrics put to the tune “Settle Down,” which Tiomkin had composed as the theme to “Red River” ten years earlier, the first Wayne/Hawks collaboration.

    • Wayne Hutchens

      I knew I had heard that tune some place before its great that they could use it again…

  • Bill Pentland

    The song from River of No Return. The film was with Robert Mitchum and Marilyn Monroe. How about some of the songs from Paint Your Wagon?

  • Sharon

    Did anyone mention “Tumbling Tumbleweeds” by The Sons of the Pioneers? I love that one!

  • Robin

    My favorite Western song is Twilight On The Trail written by Louis Alter and Sydney Mitchell for the movie The Trail Of The Lonesome Pine.

    It was included by The Sons Of The Pioneers in one of their albums. It is easily the best song in the album and makes all the other songs sound thin and unmusical.

  • dave castellarin

    i love all those comments. how about that whisling song from the movie,THE PROUD ONES, no lyrics but very nice. yes, the ballad of the alamo, the hanging tree sung by mr teardrop, marty robbins. gene pitney,the man who shot libery valance. a notable mention to the mike curb congragation from KELLY’s HEROES, burning bridges . my fave is NORTH TO ALASKA by the late and great johnny horton. great comments from all of you

  • Geneva P

    My absolute favorite is “River of no Return”. When I was a kid my family always got together and watched our one television to see this movie. We would always sing the song in unison. Other favorites are Magnificent 7, Gunfight at OK Corral and the duet by Ricky Nelson and Dean Martin in Rio Bravo.

  • Kai Ferano

    Ah, yes, Nora! I was going to select “Ghost Riders in the Sky” which you say was sung in a movie by Gene Autry. I have the 45 rpm sung by Vaughn Monroe. Frankie Lane recorded this eerie song, too. “yippe ya yay; yippe ya yoh….ghost riders in the sky!”

  • Gary Vidmar

    The original list is good, and it is probably safe to say the Dimitri Tiomkin was the Hollywood King when it came to writing songs for Westerns. I don’t think anyone has mentioned his song for THE WAR WAGON – a real rouser.
    Some obscure but memorable Western songs of mention would be:
    FIVE CARD STUD by Maurice Jarre
    EL DORADO by Nelson Riddle
    THE HALLELUJAH TRAIL by Elmer Bernstein
    SOMETHING BIG by Burt Bacharach
    SHALAKO by Robert Farnon
    THE GLORY GUYS by Riz Ortolani
    JEREMIAH JOHNSON by Tim McIntire
    THE WAY WEST by Bronislau Kaper
    WATERHOLE #3 by Dave Grusin

  • dave castellarin

    from my prior comments, i forgot my very next best. CLAUDE KING THE COMANCHEROS and sink the bismark by johnny horton, both were not on the soundtrack,why i will never know, but both were great hits on the music charts. gary vidmar you are so right and you have only touched on a few. GREAT STUFF!!


    For me, it’s Roy Rogers’s “Happy Trails”.

  • Charley Blake

    Sorry, Tony, but it was Harry Carey, Jr., not John Wayne, who sang “Streets of Laredo” to the baby in “Three Godfathers.” (Don’t know if he sang it himself or was dubbed.)

  • hiram grant

    It’s amazing how many people don’t know what the word “song” means.

  • Charley Blake

    I’ll chime in with another vote for “River of No
    Return.” (The Tennessee Ernie Ford version heard over the credits, not the rendition Marilyn Monroe sings in the context of the movie.)
    I also love Glen Campbell’s “True Grit.” (And I think he’s been unfairly maligned for his acting in that film: LaBoeuf was just an unlikeable character, albeit one of the “good guys,” and Glen has been unfortunately tarred with that.)


    1 Rio Bravo Dean Martin
    2Strange Lady In Town Frankie Laine
    3 Theme from Red River
    4 Ballad Of The Alamo Marty Robbins
    5The Kentuckian Song Eddy Arnold

  • Bob Spallina

    “Back in the Saddle Again” by Gene Autry from the movie of the same name.

  • Martin Henderson

    I’m with Sharon, 100%. #1 has to be Tumblin’ Tumbleweeds.

  • Rufnek

    Nothing against “The Hanging Tree” or Marty’s rendition of it, but he sang so many, better Western songs than that one.

    I agree that Frankie Laine’s “3:10 to Yuma” is better than “Gunfight at the OK Corral”
    (I remember the Mad Magazine spoof about the opening scene in “OK Corral” of three approaching riders with Laine singing in the background and the magazine naration of the audience leaning forward in their seats trying to see which one is “singing that stupid song). But neither hold a candle to Laine’s great “Rawhide,” even if it were for a TV series rather than a movie.

    But you skipped over a mess of much better Western theme songs, like “Good Times Are Coming” from Monte Walsh, Dean Martin’s “My Rifle, My Pony, and Me” from Rio Bravo,Tennessee Ernie’s big hit, “River of No Return,” from the Robert Mitchum-Marilyn Monroe film of the same name in 1954; “I’m a Runaway” by Tab Hunter from Gunman’s Walk; Kirk Douglas’s fun redition of “The Moon Grew Brighter” accompanying himself on banjo in Man Without a Star; the latter day Sons of the Pioneers singing the mornful theme of “The Searchers;” Gene Autry’s big hit that crossed from Western to pop, “Ghost Riders in the Sky” from Riders in the Sky, 1949; and a slew of songs by Roy Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers from their many movies including “Cool Water,” “Don’t Fence Me In,” “Tumbling Tumbleweeds,” and “Along the Navajo Trail.” EveN Lee Marvin’s top hit of “Wandering Star” from Paint Your Wagon. And who can for forget Gary Cooper singing endless verses of “Round and Around Old Joe Clark” in Along Came Jones?

    However, the absolute best theme song from a Western film, primarily because the song was a major factor in the film plot was “The Ballad of Wes Tancred from the film Tension at Table Rock (1956) written by Josef Myrow and Robert Wells and performed on the film soundtrack by Eddy Arnold as follows:

    Come all you good people and lend me your ear
    I got a sad story that you oughta hear
    The wind it was howlin’ ’round Sam Older’s shack
    The night that his killer stepped out of the black
    And shot Sam down from the rear

    Wes Tancred, Wes Tancred
    A pal right down to the end
    Wes Tancred, Wes Tancred
    The black-hearted, white-livered, backbitin’ sidewinder
    Murdered his own best friend

    It happened on Friday the thirteenth of May
    The coroner carried Sam Older away
    If I don’t know nothin’
    There’s one thing’s a fact
    The hole was much bigger in front than in back
    Now you don’t kill a brave man that way

    Wes Tancred, Wes Tancred
    A pal right down to the end
    Wes Tancred, Wes Tancred
    The black-hearted, white-livered, backbitin’ sidewinder
    Murdered his own best friend

    Now folks when you sleep
    Put a bolt on your door
    Wes Tancred is loose with his Colt 44
    Don’t lie on your stomach when you go to bed
    ‘Cause he’ll take a shot at the back of your head
    The way he done it before

    Wes Tancred, Wes Tancred
    A pal right down to the end
    Wes Tancred, Wes Tancred
    The black-hearted, white-livered, backbitin’ sidewinder
    Murdered his own best friend

    The idea was sort of a reverse takeoff on the “Dirty Little Coward” ballard of Bob Ford shooting Jesse James, only in this case the shooter played by Richard Egan was the good guy and the dastardly outlaw tried to draw behind his back while turning away.

  • Ann

    High Noon by Tex Ritter
    The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance by Gene Pitney

  • version

    The Ballad from Cat Ballou- Lee Marvin sings it himself. How about from “Paint your Wagon (red)”

    Laurel & Hardy: on the trail of the lonesome pine

    Didn’t the Wild Bunch have lyrics?

  • Rufnek

    dave castellarin mentioned sink the bismark by johnny horton and complained it was not on the movie soundtrack. My recollection–perhaps faulty from that long ago period–is that the British made film later inspired country-western star Horton to write his song. I don’t believe he or the song had any direct connection to the film.

    One historic song that did show up in a modern movies was the defiant “I Am a Good Old Rebel” written by a former Confederate officer during the bitter reconstruction period in which he expresses hatred for the US flag and Constitution and wishes he could have killed more Yankees. I first heard that tune performed by Rod Steiger playing a former Johnny Reb who leaves the US to live with the Indians in “Run of the Arrow.” In The Long Riders, one of the oldest Clell brother demands the whorehouse musician play it or have his fingers shot off for playing a pro-Union tune. Another Civil War song that showed up in a western film was “Rose of Alabamy” frequently performed in The Outlaw Josie Wales. And then of course Elvis’ “Love Me Tender” from his first film of the same name was a variation on the old Civil War song “Laura Lee.”

  • AYuletidefan

    The number one song of all Western Movies…… The theme song of “The Magnificent Seven”!!!! Timeless!!!!!

  • Mike Oldfield

    One of my all-time favourites would be “The Last Of The Silver Screen Cowbows” sung by Rex Allen Jr. in the movie Rustlers’ Rhapsody. A real fine piece of nostalgia for those of us who remember the Monogram and Republic westerns of the 1940’s and 1950’s. Incidentally, “My Rifle, My Pony and Me” from Rio Bravo was just a reworking of Dimitri Tiomkin’s big theme from Red River. In that film, a big male chorus sings “Settle Down, Little Doggies” to the same tune used later in Rio Bravo.

  • Rufnek

    Danny Turner mentioned “I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen”, sung by Ken Curtis in John Fords Rio Grande. We’ll Curtis certainly was among the singers who came to serenade the officers and the lady, but I think the guy who did the solo part of “I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen” was the big blonde Irish tenor who played one of the sergeants who taught the new recruits to ride earlier in the film (and who was released from the guardhouse to do his vocal number that night after being busted to private for drinking). Curtis is (was?) a good singer as you can hear in the former Sons of the Pioneers group singing the theme of The Searchers. But I don’t think he has the range or the tone necessary for the solo in “Kathlene.”

  • llsee

    Five good western songs, I couldn’t think of 1. The only songs from a ‘western’ that I ever liked were Judy Garland singing ‘On teh Atchison Topeka and the Santa Fe’ from ‘Harvey Girls’, or ‘I can Do Anything’ from ‘Annie Get Your Gun’. And, I suppose you’ll argue that those weren’t really westerns!

  • Gord Jackson

    Personally, I’ll go with:
    1. “The 3:10 to Yuma – Frankie Laine
    2. “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral – Frankie Laine
    3. “My Rifle, My Pony and Me” – Dean Martin/Rick Nelson
    4. “High Noon” – Tex Ritter
    5. “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” – Gene Pitney

    Honourable mention:
    “Rio Bravo” – Dean Martin

  • Gord Jackson

    I’m not going to argue over Judy doing “Atchison” et all. A great choice!

  • James

    Any John Sturges’Movie makes it for me. ALthough I admit I am a great fan of Frankie Laine (even before Rawhide). ” Last Train From Gun Hill”,” OK Corral has been mentioned, “Hour of the Gun” (another OK Corral view) Duel at Diablo” by Neal Hefti should not be left out for all music lovers. James Garner and Sidney Poitier. (1965)

  • Max

    No mention of John Wayne : Rio Bravo (and Red river before) Rio Grande and the Searchers. Great performances of The sons of pioneers, and composer Dimitri Tiomkin

  • Ron Wood

    And how about the theme from Shane? Let’s include it too!

    • Dixie

      Amen! Beautiful melody. For years after my dad died I didn’t want to watch “Shane” because it was his favorite movie, and trying to watch it just tore me up inside. He and I would watch it together when it came on TV when I was a little girl!

  • Diane

    I can’t believe no one mentioned “Johnny Guitar” sung by Peggy Lee for the movie Johnny Guitar staring Joan Crawford in the only Western she ever made. It’s a great song, the other 4 would be the themes from The Searchers, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, The Magnificent Seven and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. Great movies, great music…

  • Lyle

    The Man who Shot Liberty Valance by Gene Pitney even though it wasn’t actually used in the movie.I always thought some clever person should have overlaid it for the DVD and bluray versions.

  • gary w

    Good list for western songs with lyrics. Western soundtracks will wait for another day. A little further down the list would be War Wagon by Ed Ames, Ride Away (from The Searchers) and The Man from Laramie by Stan Jones, El Dorado by George Montgomery, Theme from Chisum w/ narration from William Conrad, Blazing Saddles by Frankie Laine. The Man from Liberty Valance by Gene Pitney and Ballad of the Sons of Katie Elder by Johnny Cash were also good songs but not used in the films.

  • Shawn

    I like the Spaghetti Western songs. They’re just cooler.
    1. Fistful of Dollars’64-Dramatic and dosen’t sound like any Western song before it.
    2.For a Few Dollars More’65-The ending song that has the ‘locket tune’ incorparated in it.
    3.The Forgotten Pistolero(Gunman of Ave Maria)’69-I’ve heard it on commercials and highlights on ESPN.
    4.The Mercenary’68-also used in Kill Bill 2
    5.The Good, Bad, and the Ugly’66-Iconic

  • Brian

    I have to agree with the others on Rio Bravo. Some great music came out of that film. And Friendly Persuasion really is not a western.

  • dave castellarin

    mr rufnak explained why SINK THE BISMARK by johnny horton was not in the sound track of the movie by the same name. i want to thank you for your explanation, makes sense. the comancheros by CLAUDE KING was not in the soundtrack, one of my favourite westerns, maybe someone out there can enlighten me on this one, although the soundtrack by elmer bernstein was fantastic, but still his hit song would have been really great. anyone out there can explain this????

  • carson111

    There have been a lot of songs mentioned, but the one that gets stuck in my head the most is the theme song that Johnny Western sang from the same name: Palladin

  • Joy

    I’d like to vote for another John Ford, Ken Curtis, from Rio Grande that once got stuck in my head for weeks. My Girl Is Purple is it’s name….love it because it is, if nothing else an oddity.

  • Joy

    By the way…It is definatly Ken Curtis who sings I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen. Definately! I have always been a huge fam of the man!!!!

  • Andrew

    My top 3 western songs (no lyrics) in no particular order:

    “The Magnificent Seven” (Yes, timeless!!!)
    “The Big Country”
    “How the West Was Won”

    I actually play the theme to “The Big Country” on my personal CD player while riding on Amtrak’s
    “California Zephyr” going up the Front Range of the Rockies out of Denver, CO.

  • wayne kramer

    If your going to do WESTERN film songs…how could you leave out the Italian westerns ? Most of these films had a theme song & in a lot of cases, the song & score were the best things about these films.

    A few films that have great songs…
    They Call Me Trinity
    Trinity is Still my Name
    A Pistol for Ringo
    Return of Ringo
    $100,000 for ringo
    …these are some of my favs…anyone else like the songs in these films ???

  • Susan H

    “‘Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin'”
    Then, reading others blogs, the music from “HOW THE WEST WAS WON” I really like. But, as a ‘stand-alone’ western, I would say “HIGH NOON” is the movie with the SONG!
    (and, if you don’t understand my 1st thought – see the GHOST POST!)

  • Dennis

    The theme music from Once upon a time in the West has surpisingly not been mentioned as it was very popular on the radio when the film was first shown. After The Searchers this is my favourrite western.

  • kurznachrichtengordon

    -Way Out West – ´´trail of the lonesome pine´´ !.

  • Flip

    Frankie Laine rules, w/ Robbins & Pitney on the flanks; but I always seem to harken to “Gunslinger, gunslinger, where do you ride? What do you fight for today?” ???

  • Dave Ludwig

    I go along with all the choices where Dimitri Tiomkin was the composer or Frankie Lane was the singer but there are 2 from the 50’s not mentioned.
    One is from a “western” only in the context of the film as the “west” in THE KENTUCKIAN did yet extend beyond the Mississippi. But there was a vey sweet song in it with lyrics that went in part:
    I told the possum in the gum tree,
    The raccoon on the ground.
    Told everyone but my darlin’
    Of the happiness I’ve found.

    It had some success as a single also.

    The other is the Ballad of John Colter sung by Fess Parker in Westward, Ho the Wagons. It was the highlight of the movie. Another song in the same film penned by Stan Jones was “Wringle Wrangle” which has the unfortunate lyric line of:
    I’ve got a pocket full of beans,
    A new pair of jeans,
    and a woman to wash and cook…and things.

  • Al

    The all time best even with no lyrics The Theme from The Good the Bad and the Ugly. Everyone knows this song, young or old. Number 2 would be the theme from High Noon then the theme from Raw Hide. Honorable mention goes to The Magnificent Seven.

  • adamsjimm

    Rufnek is referring to Dick Foran, who sang ‘I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen’ as Sgt Quincannon in ‘Fort Apache’.
    Foran was a ‘B’ western star in the 30’s, and known for his singing.

  • S. R. Orsulak


  • Ray Magyar

    What about My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys from Electric Horseman? and …Wandering Star from Paint Your Wagon. Also, My Rifle, Pony, and Me from Rio Bravo (it was the theme music from Red River.

    • Dixie

      Actually, Dmitri Tiomkin adapted the melody of “Settle Down, Little Doggies” from Red River to “My rifle, My Pony and Me” from Rio Bravo. Incidentally, that theme from Red River is one of my favorite western themes.

  • Gwenda

    Lots of people cant tell a song from a theme and if you get even more specific a song sung in a movie. My 3 would be The Ballad of Cat Ballou done by Nat King Cole and Stubby Kaye, My Rifle, Pony and Me by Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson and finally, the UNFORGETTABLE Marlene Dietrich singing See What the Boys in the Backroom Will Have in Destry Rides Again. So memorable that the song stayed as part of her song repertoire for the rest of her career.

  • Pete

    Gee, doesn’t anyone else remember the song from Will Penny? I think it was sung by Don Cherry.It summed up the life of a drifting cowboy poignantly. Gary W.–Yes, the Man from Laramie- great song!

  • Marvin Plevinsky

    One great theme song missing here is “Tom Dooley”
    from the Michael Landon film “The Legend of Tom
    Dooley” (1959) sung by The Kingston Trio on the sound track of the film and which sums up the plot of the movie (much like “Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling” did for “High Noon”).

  • Jim

    Doris Day’s “Secret Love” from Calamity Jane. I know it is a semi musical, but it has a Western feel to it.

  • ham

    i always liked the song from War Wagon. very catchy

  • Karen

    The best animated film so far this year is “Rango”. Truly good animation. But the kicker is over the closing credits. A perfect imitation of Frankie Laine singing the theme song “Rango” in a spot on imitation of “Rawhide”. We were rolling in the aisle.

  • Diane

    “GHOST RIDERS” has always been my favorite along with many of the “Sons of the Pioneers” venue…especially “COOL WATER”

  • Robert Miller

    Marty Robbins: “Big Iron” followed with Patti Page : “One of Us” (of course it would work with “High noon” too 😉


    The all time Best Western Cowboy song is, “What Makes A Man To Wonder” from the movies “The Searchers” by the Sons of the Pioneers. You can find the full length version of the song on Youtube (4 min.)

  • Pete Sheehan

    Slim Pickens,old,shot up and dying in the arms of
    Katy Jurado under a roiling Western sky while Dylans “Knocking on Heavens Door” wails on the soundtrack. Woof-absolutly my favorite.

    Katy Jurado under a roiling Western sky as Dylans

  • Maureen

    I love any theme song sung by the late great Frankie Lane. There is something about his voice that makes you stop and listen. My friends laughed at me because I bought several of his “albums” and cd’s especially the ones from Westerns.

  • John Hester

    1. Happy Trails – Roy Rogers & Dale Evans

    2. Back In The Saddle Again – Gene Autry

    3. Theme from “The Big Country”

    4. Theme from “For a Few Dollars More”

    5. Theme from “The Magnificent Seven”

  • Dave

    I can’t believe Mag Seven and The Big Country weren’t Top-5.

  • jim martin

    I left my love a letter in the hollow of a tree. From & theme of The Horse Soldiers starring John Wayne

  • Judith Roberts

    Thanks to everyone for your suggestions. Should I be scared that I remember all of them? Western songs or no, they knew how to write great music back then…

  • rufnek43

    Marvin Plevinsky’s mention of The Kingston Trio’s breakthrough hit of “The Legend of Tom Dooley (which actually preceded and thus inspired the film) reminds me of the year (19??) when the film “To Sir with Love” was an Oscar nominee (I think it won but maybe not) and people were calling local radio stations complaining that Lulu’s hit song of the same name (included in the film) was not nominated for an Oscar as best movie theme song. Several DJs voiced similar protests, unaware that to be nominated as a movie theme, the song or tune must be written originally for the film. Lulu’s song was not.

    Lots of folks list movie instrumental scores as theme “songs,” which by definition must contain lyrics. Maybe the wonderful instrumental compositions of “The Magnificient Seven” and “The Big Country” also have lyrics somewhere, but if so I’ve never heard them.

    The theme of “Giant” does have lyrics, although not particularly good ones, but Dimitri Tiompkin’s composition and direction of the instrumental theme at the opening of that film, James Dean’s last, is magnificient. The best Western musical theme to this Texan’s ears.

  • Luigi From NYC

    17 august

    with lyrics —

    1- high noon = F. Lane
    2- frankie & johnnie = E. Presley

    without lyrics —

    1- theme = how the west was one — i believe composed by Alfred Newman —

    2- theme = once upon a time in the west — composed by = E. Moricone — that is — the melody with the HAUNTING ANGELIC VOICES

    3- THEME = Out West = composed by — Morton Gould — from CINERAMA HOLIDAY — as recorded & arranged on the SoundTrack from CINERAMA HOLIDAY

  • Clay Robinson

    First a point on language: A song has traditional been defined as music with words/lyrics. But it has become fashionable even among professional song (music) writers and musicians to use the term song in a generic sense –any composition of music. However, music written specificly as theme music which is played at the beginning/during or at the end of a movie or TV show is just that: a theme song.
    Having said that here are my choices as good western songs (music with lyrics) performed or played in a western movie: Johnny Guitar sung by Peggy Lee (just in part) at the end of the movie by the same name,composed by Lee and the great movie theme writer Victor Young. Next The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance sung by Lane in the movie but check out James Taylor’s version. Next Cole Porter’s Don’t Fence Me In sung by Roy Rogers in the western movie by the same name. I, of course, like millions of the first generation of baby boomers listened to Happy Trails sung by Roy and Dale Evans (the composer); it was specificly written for their Sunday afternoon Tv show theme but they never performed it in a movie; however, many times in concert as their closing number.
    FYI: It was the often seen B-actor Dick Foran who sang the lead in Rio Grande’s I’ll Take You Home Kathleen. ( a very beautiful and appropriate song in the movie)
    Finally, a bit of trivia most of you know: John Wayne’s often made comment in The Searchers “that’ll be the day” was adopted by Buddy Holly as the theme and title for his first hit record. It is hardly a western song.
    Frankie Lane’s Rawhide is certainly the most remembered of multitude of Tv western theme songs of that late 1950’s and early 60s. Most were so maudlin to be forgetable; but the themes from Maverick (with lyrics) and the Rifleman (no lyrics) stand out in my memory.
    I think Judy Garland’s The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe number is great (and the movie is a westen musical) and very appropriate given the role of railroads in the West. Also a great piece of movie making by Minnelli–it was shot in one take.

  • Clay Robinson

    Correction on my earlier comments: Peggy Lee sang the theme over the opening and closing credits of Johnny Guitar.

  • Fred Smith

    My favorite “song” from a western film is “The Good Times Are Comin'” from “Monte Walsh” with Lee Marvin. Sung by Mama Cass Elliot
    My favorite “theme” from a western film is the one from “The Magnificent 7”
    By the way, I believe Gene Pitney’s “The Man Who Shot Libert Valance” (written by Hal David and Burt Bacharach) was not included in the film because it wasn’t finished by the time the film was ready for release.

  • Susan W.

    1 -Anything by Maestro ENNIO MORRICONE.

    2-The entire “Paint Your Wagon” album.

    But, I still get a kick hearing Jane Russell sing the Victor Young song “The Tall Men” about gorgeous TALL Clark Gable!

    By the way, “The Good Times Are Comin'” was composed by John Barry who passed away earlier this year.

  • Susan W.

    Ooops, Ken Darby composed the theme and song “The Tall Men” which Jane Russell sang in the movie.

  • juan carlos

    the best 5 western songs are :
    1.- the hanging tree
    2.- high noon
    3.- shane
    4.- the big country
    5.- the stalking moon

  • Phil S

    The theme from “Silverado” by Bruce Broughton.
    If we expand the category to include TV, then “Have Gun, Will Travel” (Johnny Western) and “The Ballad of Johnny Yuma” (Johnny Cash).

  • Vann Morrison

    Water Hole #3

    “It’s the code of the West, Never gun fight your neighbor, He may be faster than you”

  • Mark

    I get goosebumps every time I see “Night Passage” and hear Jimmy Stewart sing “Follow the River.”

    Follow the river
    The river knows the way
    Hearts may go astray
    It happens every day
    Follow the river
    Wherever you may be
    Follow the river back to me

  • rationalguy

    I know it isn’t a song, but I love Ennio Morricone’s theme from “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, even though I didn’t really like the movie. If you’ve got to have words, “Do Not Forsake Me” from “High Noon” is the best. I also liked “The Green Leaves of Summer” from “The Alamo”. Speaking of the Alamo, does anyone remember “Davy Crockett” from the Disney movie of the same name? It was a stupid song, but I still remember all of the words. Incidentally, in that movie Fess Parker sang a very short, moving song which began with “Farewell to the Mountains”.

    • Dixie

      Davy Crockett, yeah I remember it!

      Born on a mountaintop in Tennessee
      Greenest state in the land of the free
      Raised in the woods so he knew every tree
      And kilt him a bar when he was only three
      Davy, Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier!

  • Michelle Malkin

    I love it whe DeForest Kelley sings “Cindy, Cindy”
    in “Warlock”.

    I wish I was an apple
    a-hangin’ on a tree
    And ev’ry time my Cindy passed,
    she’d take a bite of me.

    This is one of my all time favorite westerns with
    Henry Fonda and Anthony Quinn.

  • Tom Herbert

    I was curious about “Friendly Persuasion” being a song from a Western, maybe western Pennsylvania. If that counts, then then song about the Battle of New Orleans should be included.

    • Cara

      Indiana during the Civil War.

  • leroy osborn

    I have never seen the movie when gene sings ghost riders in the sky but johnny cash does a good job of it

  • James hruby

    I’m going with the 5 best Western songs or themes in no particular order:1)The Magnificent Seven,2) The Big Country,3)Shane(Call of the Faraway Hills),4)Once Upon a Time in the West (opening & closing theme), 5)How the West Was Won. And from TV: Gunsmoke,Rawhide,Wyatt Earp,Jim Bowie,and The Ballad of Paladin ain’t bad. NB:OUITW has lyrics credited to Morricone on the sheet music but none are written (maybe the soprano vocalise is what is implied), and The Big Country had lyrics added later and was recorded by Diane Wilson as Another Day Another Country. Secret Pleasure: the theme song for 26 Men. I wish Warners or some music publisher would do a TV Westerns collection that has the sheet music for all of them.

  • roger lynn

    A great ???? my 5 faves are
    1)3;10 toYuma-Frankie Laine
    2)TRUE GRIT-Glen Campbell
    3)The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance-Gene Pitney
    4)My Rifle,Pony,Me-Dean Martin
    5) Hallelujah Trail-(yes buy the sound-track it is a great song)—honorable mention–cat ballou,the hanging tree,,close to top 5

  • Susan

    As I remember it was Ken Curtis who sang “I’ll Take you Home Again Kathleen” in “Rio Grande”. But his appearance is so different than the one we are accustomed to seeing, he is almost unrecognizable. Take another look, that’s Festus all right.

    • Rufnek

      Yes, Ken Curtis was in the group that sang “Take Me Home Again, Kathleen” just as he was in the group (the then current Sons of the Pioneers after many if not all of the originals were long gone) who sang the theme song in the opening and closing credits of the The Searchers. But Dick Foran was the one in the group of singing cavalrymen who was spotlighted as the soloist in the performance of that song. Although he had a fine voice and later did perform a solo in The Searchers (as the Texas Ranger sparking Jeffery Hunter’s girl), Curtis was part of the chorus in the Kathleen performance, not the lead singer.

      • Waldo49ers

        Ken curtis was a member of the sons of the Pioneers for years.

  • Jack

    High Noon and the Man who shot Liberty Valance

    • gbush

      The song “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” by Gene Pitney? It was never used in the film. So, you’re referring to the actual theme song from the film? I like the Pitney song.

  • BILL

    The best western movie song HAS to be a ditty sung by the great Eddie Dean at the end of several of his B westerns from the 1940s. It goes thusly: “Ain’t no gal got a brand on me, I should say, no siree. Ain’t no gal gonna get my pay, come a yipeee-ky-yo, come a yipeee-ky-yay…” I never found out what the title was.

  • Ron C Clair

    It seems to me that “Cindy, Cindy” sung by Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson and Walter Brennan in Rio Bravo ought to be mentioned!

    • Doni

      I agree with you about “Cindy,” but also loved the other song: “My Rifle, My Pony and Me.”

      • Gord Jackson

        I also loved “My Rifle, My Pony and Me.”

  • Peter Fong

    Among the 5 songs listed,I would replaced Friendly Persuasion with River of no return.It is so emotional when Marilyn Monroe mentioned ‘no return,no return’ in her soft sexy voice.But really there are no such thing as 5 best western songs,everybody has his own favorites.

    • Gord Jackson

      An excellent choice. Love Marilyn doing that one.

  • Rick



    The “Grand Canyon Suite” (Bernstein?) was truly memorable “western” music, but don’t know if it was ever used in a Western film. 

    • Dixie

      Grand Canyon Suite was Ferde Grofe, I believe.

      • Gord Jackson

        It was Ferde Grofe with the POhiladelphia Orchestra conducted by Eugene Ormandy being one of its best renderings.

  • spindrift

    My all time favorite western song is Ghost Riders in the Sky followed by Friendly Persuasion and then High Noon, LOVE them!

  • ElizaBeth Marshall-Smith

    Nah! Left out The Alamo, Cimarron Strip, Young Riders, and the Wild, Wild West.

  • Waldo49ers

    tumbeling tumbel weeds ,,,,Roy Rogers and The sons of the Pioneers

  • victor0630

    Ghost Riders In The Sky.

  • Roy125

    How could you miss Ennio Morricone and the Good the Bad and the Ugly theme? This is the greatest western tune and not far ahead of other great Morricone western themes including A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More, and what about the excellent “Run Man Run,” the opening theme to The Big Gundown? Doubt the author of the piece above has even heard of it.

  • Filmax

    “Ghost Riders In The Sky” will always be my favorite western song, but it stands alone as a piece of music rather than lifted from a particular movie. Ennio Morricone’s theme music in the Clint Eastwood trilogy and ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST is leaps and bounds ahead of anything else (absolutely haunting).  As for specific songs give me anything Frankie Laine (“Hanging Tree, “Gunfight at the OK Corral”, “Rawhide”, etc) or Tex Ritter’s “High Noon”. Their rendering always seemed to enhance the movie. 

  • Doni

    The theme from “How the West Was Won.” To me, it actually sounds like a song from that era. But I totally disagree about the title song of “Gunfight at O.K. Corral.” I thought it overly melodramatic and did not belong in the movie.

  • Crussell

    Nothing compares with the theme from Rawhide!

  • Ronjohn72

    Any western theme song composed by Russian/American composer Dimitri Tiomkin, “High Noon” being my favorite “Do Not Forsake Me Oh, My Darlin'” (together, the theme-music and movie drama melded together into a ‘western opera”; Tiomkin’s “Texas, My Land, My Home” in the Edna Ferber Classic “Giant” and “Friendly Persuasion” and Frankie Laine’s melodic voice in “Gunfight At O.K. Corral” and the musical group who sang “The Hanging Tree”. But, everyone can name their favorite “best” five songs in movies. I personally composers out-did themselves writing western music because the Western, as such, is such a purely American form and unique product, like jazz  and R&B music from the Southland. 

  • Watchin’ in WA

    My Rifle, My Pony & Me, sung by Dean Martin in Rio Bravo and the song performed by Keith Carradine, accompanied by his brother, Robert, on the Jews Harp in the Long Riders are two of my favorites that meet the criteria.

  • hockeyfan

    The theme from How the West Was Won is an adaptation of the english folk song Greensleeves and probably not be considered a true western theme song. 

    I like Do Not Forsake Me Oh, My Darling as it conveys the tension of the scenes that it is in.

    The theme from  The Good , the Bad and the Ugly is probably my favourite as it is great in the opening and all the way through it is used with different tempos to give the movie more suspense.

    • G.C.

      Yes, Greensleeves was in HTWWW however it is NOT the title tune which was written by the legendary Alfred Newman and IS original to the film.

  • Joe K

    I have two favorite.  The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (which I believe never played during the movie) and High Noon.

  • Adlaidmorton65

    I noticed the Magnificent Seven was not listed. Show me someone who does not know that song

  • Rosie_gibson

    Turkey buzzard from Mckenna’s Gold

    • Robin

      You’re joking of course! That’s one of the worst and most stupid songs ever written.

  • Jmop1

    Theme from “The Maginificent Seven is No.1 — followed by the theme from “The Alamo” (John Wayne/Richard Widmark version) and “The Sons of Katie Elder”.

  • Hnoel

    Bravo. A good collection, thoughtful. Usually these “Best ……..” are dominated by people/events/movies, etc. from way back in the past three or four years.

  • Vegasfrei

    Who Shot Liberty Valance although I think the song came out after the movie did with
    the Duke

  • Teddysmith22017

    Theme to The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

  • jerry j.

    The Kingston Trio singing Texas Across the River in the opening credits of the movie. 



  • Lisa Grove

    Theme song of RAWHIDE.

  • Aadlaidmorton65

    I forgot about Rawhide and, in case we forgot the tune they reminded us of it in The Blues Brothers movie

  • Sigerson

    Not strictly a western, perhaps, but I can listen to theme music of The Last of the Mohicans over and over agian.

  • Jamesgasaway

    Tumbling Tumbleweeds.   The Shifting, Whispering Sands.  Cool Water.  Twilight on the Trail.   Mexicali Rose.  

    • Joescarp

      Oddly enough, “Don’t Fence Me In” and “Tumbling Tumbleweeds” were introduced in the same movie, the one where Gabby Hayes pretends to be dead in a casket at his own wake. Great songs!

    • georgiacee

      Right, these are what I think of as western songs.

  • Cara

    Don’t forget Cole Porter’s Don’t Fence Me In sung by Roy Rogers and The Sons of the Pioneers in one of Roy’s earliest starring movies.

  • Charly

    “Silver on the Sage” from ” TheTexans” ( Randolph Scott and Joan Bennet ) was my most memorable song

  • Gary Gaudio

    “Shall We Gather at the River” is a great song found in many westerns. “My Darling Clementine” is a great song in one of the best westerns.

  • Sherri

    Raindrops keep falling on my head from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

  • Kevin Albertina

    Magnificent Seven, How the West Was Won (mentioned), Gunfight at the OK Corral (mentioned), The Good the Bad and the Ugly, as well as L’estasi dell’oro from the same, The Big Country, Breakheart Pass, For a Few Dollars More. Also with vocals, loved High Noon and Raindrops Keep Fallin’. Western movies truly inspired the best theme music of any genre. So many memorable ones.

  • Movie Joe

    What about “The Man That Shot Liberty Valance”, from the John Ford classic? How can you limit this to only five?

  • Rich

    What about “The Green Leaves of Summer” from THE ALAMO?

  • sandy

    Shouldn’t forget Gene Autry. He had some great ones. Back In The Saddle and Ridin’ Down the Canyon are just a couple of beautiful songs.

  • fbusch

    Ghost riders in the sky, always leaves the hairs on my neck standing since I first heard it in my childhood. But, all you guys missed 2 great songs from Paint your wagon. They call the wind maria and born under a wandering star. Where else will you find both Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin singing?

    • jonsilver

      They call the wind Mariah is a great song.

  • Harry Robbins

    The Hangigng Tree is the best western song followed by high Noon

  • Harry Robbins

    Lucille Ball is the funniest, cutest and sweetest actress of all time

    • jonsilver

      a) while Lucy was great, “funniest, cutest & sweetest of all time?” I don’t think so…
      b) what is this comment doing in this thread?

  • fredsw

    Rick29 hit it right on the head. I can think of none better than his picks. My favorite by far is High Noon, both the song and the movie.

  • Gord Jackson

    It’s too bad that the list wasn’t ten – five instrumentals and five vocals. With the former it has to be THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN with honourable mention to HOW THE WEST WAS WON. Re the latter, definetly GUNFIGHT AT THE OK CORRAL with honourable mention to the hauntingly beautiful THE 3:10 TO YUMA. Like some, I also like FRIENDLY PERSUASION altho I much prefer the Four Aces (over-the-top) cover to Pat Boone’s original.

  • edro3111

    “El Dorado” from the John Wayne movie of the same name!! George Singleton’s wonderful voice stamped it as a John Wayne classic! Listen to it on YouTube!

  • georgiacee

    Most songs mentioned by everybody are great but if you want COWBOY songs I want those from the Sons of the Pioneers: Tumbling Tumbleweeds, Cowboy’s Lament(bury me not on the lone prairie), Ride the Navajo Trail, Mexicali Rose(how can you leave out Gene Autry???), Cool Water, etc. Can’t even think of all of them.

    • jonsilver

      Mentioning Autry without Back in the Saddle Again?! Unthinkable…

  • roger lynn


  • roger lynn

    forgot Buttons and Bows it also won the Oscar 1948 paleface

  • nicolas

    One of my favorites, and you can not hear it if you see the movie Dajango Unchained, is the original Django music from the 1966 Sergio Corbucci film with Franco Nero. It is also sung in Italian as well. Really that song is far better than that 1966 movie. I would also like to point out a song for a Western that was not used for that Western because John Ford did not feel it was right for the film “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”

  • Bill Proctor

    Marty Robbins “El Paso”

  • not a regular

    My favorite is Ghost Riders in the Sky, then the Ballad of “High Noon” after those it is hard to rank them.

    • jonsilver

      Was Ghost Riders ever in a movie?

  • glasspolish

    I agree with the choices (except possibly the last one). Other westerns with unforgettable music include: Hang ’em High; Once Upon a Time in the West, especially Harmonica’s tune and Cheyenne’s theme; and, Cat Ballou (Stubby Kay and Nate King Cole).

  • Chuck

    Several in “Fort Apache” with John Wayne and the Sons of the Pioneers. “I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen” might not be “Western” but it is beautiful and so appropriate when it is sung.

    • Russ Perry

      Wasn’t that song in Rio Grande?

      • Chuck

        Absolutely. Fort Apache was with Henry Fonda, etc. Sorry- I know better.

  • ostrogoth

    Don’t forget “The Ballad of Cat Ballou” w/Nat “King” Cole and Stubby Kaye!

  • Lizasaurus

    My all time favourite from many of the great westerns is ‘North To Alaska’ which was, and still is, one of the best films I have ever seen.

  • sjk

    My favorite western song is “El Dorado”, from the John Wayne movie of the same name. It has a haunting quality to it.

  • Jim Sepeda

    Good choices. One of my favorites is Hallelujah Trail – not as dramatic as the ones above, but lots of fun.

  • Big Jake

    One of my favourites is theme song from Horse Soldiers

  • Jim Glissan

    the best western song of all time – but sadly only available while you watch the move is Code of the West, from Waterhole #3 sung by Roger Miller – if you dont know this song or this western you have missed a great fun experience. James Coburn and Carroll O’Connor at their best

  • Tj jones

    I liked “Lorena”from the Searchers

  • pocroc

    The score for Shane was profound. The incredible denouement scene would not have been the same without it. Also, theme from The Big Country. Tiomkin’s score of The Alamo. Bit I guess nothing beats High Noon.

  • Antone

    Two years ago two responders mentioned Streets of Laredo sung [or recited] by Harry Carey, Jr in Three Godfathers. I think I recall a better-sung version of this ballad in a movie in the ’50’s starring Bill Holden & Bill Bendix. I believe it was titled Streets of Laredo and was about Texas Rangers who went rogue to save a friend. I thought the movie was quite good; but it seems to have completely dropped off the radar screen. Haven’t seen or heard of it in decades.

  • Tom K.

    The entire musical score from ” The Good, the Bad and the Ugly “.

  • Bill Heyer

    The Great Tex Ritter, singing “Don’t Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin’.” Hands down!!!

  • Wayne P.

    Rolling Rio Bravo from the movie of the same name is a classic melody but they only do an instrumental, and unfortuately very brief, version of it at the beginning of the film. With Ricky Nelson and Dean Martin singing a duet together, and in fine form, later in the movie, I have always wondered why such a pretty tune as RRB got such short shrift in the picture with no vocal version at all. I could even say the same thing about The Green Leaves of Summer and its similar treatment in The Alamo! Is John Wayne the only common denominator in both of these oversights?

  • chrijeff

    I have a sneaky fondness for the song that runs over the credits in “El Dorado.” “My daddy once told me what a man oughtta be,/There’s much more to life than the things we can see…”

  • AGB

    “Johnny Guitar”

  • OldSgt

    There are so many great ones and I agree with most of the comments. I’ll cast my vote for the worst one – Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head from Butch Cassidy. Not only did the movie butcher the story, making it a Newman/Redford buddy movie with 1970’s era humor, but that song drives me crazy – I never watch the movie, just because of the song. Katherine Ross, though, is the best part of the movie.

  • rjwidmann

    How can you leave out the theme from “The Magnificient Seven

    • Charles M Lee

      That is by far the best, at least to me.

    • jonsilver

      Because it’s not a song…

  • DMena

    “Old Turkey Buzzard” from McKenna’s Gold.

  • Rue

    I’m going a long way back from Girl of the Golden West, circa 1937?. Shadows on the Moon (Music: Sigmund Romberg/Lyrics: Gus Kahn)

  • dreameagle

    you are completely ignoring the theme from “The Posse”, “The Cisco Kid”, “Zorro” (either Disney’s or the Antonio Banderas movies) and last but not least, “She Wore A Yellow Ribbon” and “I Will Find You” from “Last of the Mohicans”;

    judging from your rather 1950s Hit Parade-centred list, most of my choices come from movies too “revisionist” for you;

    • jonsilver

      certainly agree about “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon…”

  • Capoman

    The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. Frankie Laine.

  • Laura

    Movie – Canyon Passage – 1946, ” Ole Buttermilk Sky ” sung by Hoagy Carmichael.

  • Black & White Critic in Color

    McKenna’s Gold is an outstanding Western movie song; however, if this is not limited to movies: consider the TV western …Rawhide. It has great lyrics and the music is more than memorable.

  • Dean Eaton

    We’re surprised you left out “My Rifle, My Pony and Me”.
    It marks a turning point for the supporting characters in Hawks’ RIO BRAVO, as Stumpy, Dude and Colorado unite as a team in song. Furthermore, the melody is based on Dmitri Tiomkin’s main title for RED RIVER.

  • classicsforever

    Certainly the most beautiful has to be the music from “Once Upon A Time In The West”.

    • jonsilver

      also not a song…

      • classicsforever

        True, it’s not a song. My mistake. Although there is some lovely female vocal in the main theme music. I think words would have ruined it.

  • The Blue Carbuncle

    Not number one, but deserving of an honorable mention, “The Ballad of Cat Ballou” sung by Stubby Kaye and Nat King Cole

  • TwentyCents

    My recommendation is “Follow the River” (Tiomkin/Washington) from Night Passage. Lovely to whistle to.

  • Gerry

    All good movie songs but here’s a question what is the best TV western series theme over all decades?

    • jonsilver

      Rawhide and Maverick…nothing else comes close…

  • Charles M Lee

    In my opinion two of the best were not mentioned. The theme to the Magnificent Seven tops everything you mentioned – again in my opinion. Also better than every thing mentioned was The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. This theme did very well on the charts also.

    • jonsilver

      Agree about their quality, but the post is about songs, not themes…

      • Charles M Lee

        Fair enough.

  • Germaine Ayers

    I couldn’t find anyone mentioning this before, so I just HAVE to do it, because it really deserves mentioning imo. Glenn Yarbrough (who just turned 85) did at least three magnificent Western songs: “The Ballad of Marshall Flagg” is the credit sequence song for “The Good Guys and the Bad Guys” (1969), “You Can’t Ever Go Home Again” is the song for “Ride Beyond Vengeance” (1966), and of course the Elmer Bernstein title tune “Baby the Rain Must Fall” (1965) for the Steve McQueen movie. I know “Baby the Rain Must Fall” is not strictly a Western, but the song definitely has a Western feel to it (well, Elmer wrote it!). Yarbrough has a unique voice of his own, but he also reminds me of Frankie Laine, and that’s certainly a compliment.

  • Rawhidenow

    ‘The War Wagon’ by Ed Ames from the John Wayne,Kirk Douglas movie of the same name

  • Hoosier#1

    What about the guitar solo to Rio Lobo

  • Hoosier#1

    What about Stagecoach by Willie Nelson. If you are going to mention Gene Autry, then you must mention Roy Rogers, There is also the first western song to win a Grammy “Tom Dooley”. For comedy sake what about the duet of John Wayne and Lee Marvin in “The Commancheros”.