The Ballad of Ira Hayes

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"The Ballad of Ira Hayes" was written by folk singer Peter La Farge. It tells the story of Ira Hayes, one of the five Marines and one Navy Corpsman who became famous for having raised the flag on Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima of World War II. Members of the Western Writers of America chose it as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time.[1]


The song has been recorded many times; the most popular version is by Johnny Cash. Patrick Sky covered it on his self-titled 1965 debut album (and later for a 1985 album). Hamilton Camp included the song on his 1969 album, Welcome to Hamilton Camp.

Pete Seeger covered the song on his 1963 Album Broadside Ballads Volume 2.

Smiley Bates covered the song on his 1971 album Songs of Life.

Bob Dylan followed suit by covering the song during his sessions for Self Portrait, though his version did not see release until Columbia used it as part of the Dylan album of 1973.

Townes Van Zandt covered this song during a rare television appearance, and at The Whole Coffeehouse, University of Minnesota Campus, November 9, 1973. Kinky Friedman did a cover of the song on his 1976 record Lasso from El Paso.

American Rock Against Communism band Lightning Rod covered the song on their 2004 album Cowboy and Folk Songs. Their version was rewritten to fit in line with lead singer and guitarist David Custer's National Socialist philosophy.


  1. ^ Western Writers of America (2010). "The Top 100 Western Songs". American Cowboy. Archived from the original on 10 August 2014.