Cool Water

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For the fragrance, see Cool Water (perfume). For the Caravan album, see Cool Water (album).
"Cool Water"
Written 1936
Writer Bob Nolan
Recorded by Vaughn Monroe and The Sons of the Pioneers, Hank Williams, Frankie Laine, Marty Robbins, Burl Ives, Odetta, Riders in the Sky, Jack Scott, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, The Rooftop Singers, Slim Whitman, Johnnie Ray, Mason Williams, Joni Mitchell, Leo Kottke, Johnny Cash
Performed by Hank Marvin and Bruce Welch

"Cool Water" is a song written in 1936 by Bob Nolan. It is about a man and his mule, Dan, and a mirage in the desert. Members of the Western Writers of America chose it as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time.[1]

Original version[edit]

The best-selling recorded version was done by Vaughn Monroe and The Sons of the Pioneers in 1948. The recording was released by RCA Victor Records as catalog number 20-2923. The record was on the Billboard magazine chart for 13 weeks beginning on August 6, 1948, peaking at #9. [2]

Other artists[edit]

Hank Williams recorded the song in 1948 or 1949 for the Johnny Fair Syrup Company radio show on KWKH in Shreveport, Louisiana. The recording is available on The Complete Hank Williams boxed set, released on Mercury Records in 1998. It also appears in the film Rango, set in an Old West town populated by animals that is suffering from drought. Every Wednesday, the townspeople perform a ritual they believe will return water to their town, during which the song plays over a PA system.

Frankie Laine and The Mellomen took it to #2 on the British charts in 1955.

Marty Robbins recorded the song on his 1959 album Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs.

Burl Ives recorded this song on his 1961 album Songs of the West.

Odetta recorded the song in 1963 on her One Grain of Sand album.

The Rooftop Singers recorded the song in 1963 on their Grammy nominated Walk Right In album.

Other covers of the song were done by Riders in the Sky, Jack Scott, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Slim Whitman, Johnnie Ray and Mason Williams, among others.

The Muppets (Lubbock Lou and His Jughuggers) also covered the song on the set for "Singin' in the Rain" in Episode 501 after Gene Kelly refuses to go on.

Joni Mitchell recorded "Cool Water" (with revised lyrics), released on Chalk Mark in a Rainstorm, March 23, 1988.

Leo Kottke performed a version on the album Burnt Lips.

Johnny Cash covered this on his second posthumous record American VI: Ain't No Grave [3]

Hank Marvin and Bruce Welch of The Shadows performed a version live on BBC in 1967 for the TV show After Ten Follows Ten.

Fleetwood Mac recorded Cool Water in 1982 on the Warner Bros label. It was on the flip side of their 45 RPM record of Stevie Nicks' recording of Gypsy but never appeared on any Fleetwood Mac album.

The Replacements included a version of Cool Water on their expanded edition of Pleased to Meet Me.

Bob Dylan and The Band recorded a version of Cool Water in 1967 and released it in 2014 on The Bootleg Series Vol. 11: The Basement Tapes Complete.


Frankie Laine version
Chart (1955) Peak
United Kingdom (NME) 2[4]
United Kingdom (Record Mirror) 1[5]


  1. ^ Western Writers of America (2010). "The Top 100 Western Songs". American Cowboy. Archived from the original on 10 August 2014. 
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1973). Top Pop Records 1940-1955. Record Research. 
  3. ^ Cool Water Songfacts
  4. ^ "Artist Chart History Details: Frankie Laine". The Official Charts Company. Retrieved 4 August 2010. 
  5. ^ McAleer, Dave. "Every No.1 in the 1960s is listed from all the nine different magazine charts!". Dave McAleer's website. Retrieved 4 November 2010. 

External links[edit]