Ghost Riders in the Sky: About the Song

“Ghost Riders in the Sky” was written in 1948 by American songwriter Stan Jones. The song is a cautionary tale warning a cowboy that if he doesn’t change his ways, he will one day join the damned cowboys doomed to try to “catch the Devil’s herd across these endless skies.” Jones said that an old cowboy friend told him that story when he was 12 years old. The song was a hit for many artists, including The Outlaws, Vaughn Monroe, Bing Crosby, Frankie Lane, Johnny Cash, Burl Ives, and Marty Robbins.


Ghost riders in the sky

An old cowpoke went ridin’ 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
Plowin’ through the ragged skies and up a cloudy draw

Their brands were still on fire and their hoofs 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 comin’ hard, and he heard their mournful cry

Their faces gaunt, their eyes were blurred their shirts all soaked with sweat
They’re ridin’ hard to catch that herd, but they ain’t caught ’em yet
‘Cause they 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 wanna save your soul from Hell a-ridin’ on our range
Then cowboy change your ways today or with us you will ride
Tryin’ to catch the Devil’s herd across these endless skies