Western Theme Songs and Cowboy Ballads


I heard a song on the radio the other day that took me way back to the days when westerns dominated the movie screen and the television airwaves.  The song was The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.  Hearing the song immediately put me back in front of the screen reliving scenes from that great movie. 


Cowboy Ballads

Got me to thinking about other Cowboy/Western ballads I love – not all of them movie related – and I thought I’d do a list of my top ten favorites for this post.  And for those of you who want to hear them again (or for the first time), I’ll post links to videos that feature them as well.


The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

High Noon

The Streets Of Laredo

El Paso

Come A Little Bit Closer

Big Bad John


Big Iron

Johnny Reb

Ballad Of The Alamo



And as a bonus, I thought I’d include my 10 favorite western TV classic theme songs as well



Have Gun, Will Travel


Bat Masterson

Wyatt Earp




Rin Tin Tin





So how about you – did I leave one of your favorites off of my lists?  If so – share!

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Winnie Griggs is the author of Historical (and occasionally Contemporary) romances that focus on Small Towns, Big Hearts, Amazing Grace. She is also a list maker, a lover of dragonflies and holds an advanced degree in the art of procrastination.
Three of Winnie’s books have been nominated for the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award, and one of those nominations resulted in a win.
Winnie loves to hear from readers. You can connect with her on facebook at www.facebook.com/WinnieGriggs.Author or email her at winnie@winniegriggs.com.

39 thoughts on “Western Theme Songs and Cowboy Ballads”

  1. This made me smile, Winnie. Music just pops right into my head just from reading the titles of the links.

    How about The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.

    That stand off with Clint Eastwood in that serape with the thin cigar in his mouth.

  2. Hi Winnie! When I need inspiration for writing, I listen to an old Marty Robbins CD with all his cowboy and gunfighter ballads on it. “Marty Robbins – #1 Cowboy.” My sister’s ringtone for me is the theme from “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” Ha!

  3. I agree with Mary Connealy, this post made me smile this morning. As a girl I remember watching Westerns with my Dad and brothers. Thanks for taking me back down memory lane.

  4. Tracy and Melissa – Gunsmoke! Another great TV western I left off. Though I have to admit the theme music wasn’t as memorable to me. I had to go out to the net and listen to it to remind myself what it sounded like. But of course I recognized it immediately

  5. Winnie, what a great list. You mentioned most of my favorites. The only one I can think of that missed your list was the theme song to The Magnificent Seven. I don’t think it had words though, just music. But the music really put me in the mood to watch the movie. Doesn’t take much to take me back to the age of Westerns. From an early age, I was such a fan of those. Sure made for a wonderful childhood! *sigh*

  6. I noticed you hit some on Marty Robins. I have always loved his western songs.I went out a while back and found a CD of his and I listen to it quite often.

  7. Linda – confession time, I didn’t remember the theme from The Magnificent Seven (Great Movie BTW). Just popped over and listened to it – And Ah yes, it definitely belongs on the list

  8. Quilt Lady – Yep, my hubby’s a big Marty Robbins fan too – has several of his albums. And he did some great gunfighter/cowboy ballads (Marty Robbins that is, not hubby 🙂 )

    Kathleen – You’re welcome. It was fun listening to all of these again as I did my ‘research’ 🙂

  9. Hi Winnie! Fun post! It’s not a TV theme, but I’ve always liked the soundtrack for “How The West Was Won.” Marty Robbins’ “Gunfighter Ballads” are my favorites!

  10. Vickie – Oh yes, The Big Valley was a GREAT show – weren’t those Barkley boys yummy!!!

    Victoria – Glad you enjoyed the post. And there seem to be a lot of Marty Robbins fans around today…

  11. Hello, Winnie, fun post! I’d have to say that of the theme songs, ‘Bonanza’ is my favorite. I’m afraid I don’t remember the Big Valley theme, but I do remember that the Barkley boys were sigh-inducing. I liked the Gunsmoke theme as well. Great memories!

  12. What a fun blog, Winnie! It took me back, too. 🙂 One you left off — and I don’t know the name of it, goes like this:

    “In 1813 we took a little trip
    Around the something something to the mightly Mississip
    We took a little bacon and we took a little grub
    I don’t know the next line.

    We fired our guns and they began a runnin
    Wasn’t not as many as there was a while ago
    We fired once more and they began a runnin
    On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.”

    Anyone here know that song? I used to love that song with it’s drums and it’s

    Hup two three four — down crawl three four 🙂

  13. Desperado with Antonio Banderos is a good one and what about The William Tell Overture (Lone Ranger). I agree with all the others too lol.

  14. Jeanne – Two more winners! I will confess that I had a tough time whittling my lists down to 10 – there were several other favorites that I had to reluctantly leave off (cause who wants to read a top 17 list – LOL)

    Estella – glad you liked the list!

  15. You got all of mine, Winnie, and I didn’t even have to click the links to remember them.
    I especially loved El Paso. We had it on a record album called Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs. Wonder if there’s a cd version available. I would kill to have it.
    Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  16. I love all the old westerns, I guess my most favorite of all is Chyenne starring Clint Walker


  17. Great links, Winnie. Memories play a huge part in our love of music. I remember sitting in the theatre in Cheverly, Md watching the Man Who Shot Liberty Valance by myself. I’ve loved that song ever since!

  18. Hi Marley – And yes, music can be very powerful memory triggers. There are certain songs in my own life that as soon as I hear them I mentally return to certain times or events in my life

  19. Karen Kay,The song is called “The Battle of New Orleans” or “The Ballad of New Orleans” describing that battle in which Andrew Jackson beat off the British in the War of 1812 which was already over at the time.

  20. Some where maybe you might find it in your heart to have a place for an real old hero of mine,

    Charles A. Siringo
    He wrote “A Texas Cowboy: or, Fifteen Years on the Hurricane Deck of a Spanish Pony” and other books about his life.

    You can’t have the history of Texas without including his life.

    Also it might be nice to include the “Arizona Rangers” history. 16 men I believe for the whole teritory of the place that I call home.

    They became of course the State Police now but there is a group that has formed that I belonged to in the past that try to carry on their tradition and are called “Arizona Rangers” Nice to keep history alive so we don’t forget.

    Thank you

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