I think it’s practically impossible to have grown up in post-World War II America and not have heard some iteration of Stan Jones’s 1948 cowboy classic Ghost Riders In The Sky in some capacity. It’s been covered by dozens of big name artists, from Johnny Cash to Bing Crosby to Sesame Street to Deborah Harry, etc. And why not? It’s a whopper of a ghost tale, in which a cowboy is spending a night resting at a ridge when he suddenly witnesses a haunting vision: the Devil’s herd of red-eyed, steel-hooved, iron-horned cattle tearing across the nighttime sky, eternally being chased by the damned souls of cowherds, who spend forever trying to catch them… and failing. The cowboy is warned to change his ways, or he will be cursed to join the ghost riders in eternity.
You can’t go wrong with most versions of this song; I grew up with The Outlaws 1980 cover, a Southern-fried rock cover that eliminates the final verse of the song in favor of a hard-rockin’ outro. This is a most crankable tune, a spooky, rippin’ rock classic that’ll fit right in on your Halloween playlist. Turn it up and feel free to emit more than a few YEE-HAWS! Preferably when no one else is in the house…
A bolt of fear went through him as they thundered through the sky
For he saw the Riders comin’ hard and heard their mournful cry
Yippie ki aaaay
Yippie yi ohhhh
Ghost Riders in the sky…