I'm an Old Cowhand (From the Rio Grande)

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"I'm an Old Cowhand (From the Rio Grande)"
I'm an Old Cowhand cover.jpg
Single by Bing Crosby
A-side"I'm an Old Cowhand (From the Rio Grande)"
B-side"I Can't Escape from You"
RecordedJuly 17, 1936
LabelDecca Records 871
Songwriter(s)Johnny Mercer

"I'm an Old Cowhand (From the Rio Grande)" is a comic song written by Johnny Mercer for the Paramount Pictures release Rhythm on the Range and sung by its star, Bing Crosby. The Crosby commercial recording was made on July 17, 1936, with Jimmy Dorsey & his Orchestra for Decca Records.[1] It was a huge hit in 1936, reaching the No. 2 spot in the charts of the day,[2] and it greatly furthered Mercer's career. Crosby recorded the song again in 1954 for his album Bing: A Musical Autobiography.
Members of the Western Writers of America chose it as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time.[3]


Mercer and his wife were driving across the US en route to his hometown, Savannah, Georgia, after having apparently failed to succeed in Hollywood. Mercer was amused by the sight of cowboys, with spurs and ten-gallon hats, driving cars and trucks instead of riding horses. Singing cowboys were popular in films and on the radio then, and within 15 minutes, writing on the back of an envelope, Mercer transferred the image he was seeing into a song whose satirical lyrics vented some of his own bitter frustration with Hollywood.[4]

The lyrics, about a 20th-century cowboy who has little in common with the cowpunchers of old, have been included in some anthologies of light verse.

Other recordings[edit]

The song has also been sung by Roy Rogers (Sons of the Pioneers), Sophia Johnson, Carson Robison, Bobby Darin, Tex Ritter, The Mills Brothers, Johnnie Ray, Jack Teagarden, Patsy Montana, Frank Sinatra, Steve Lawrence, Lorne Greene, Dan Hicks, and Harry Connick Jr., Hotclub of Cowtown among others. A notable jazz version by Sonny Rollins leads off his 1957 album Way Out West. Instrumental versions were done by Ray Conniff on his album 'S Wonderful! (1956) and Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass on their album The Brass are Comin' (1969).[5] Another jazz version was recorded by UK jazz artist Acker Bilk.

Film and other appearances[edit]


  1. ^ "A Bing Crosby Discography". BING magazine. International Club Crosby. Retrieved April 17, 2017.
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1986). Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954. Wisconsin, USA: Record Research Inc. p. 105. ISBN 0-89820-083-0.
  3. ^ Western Writers of America (2010). "The Top 100 Western Songs". American Cowboy. Archived from the original on 19 October 2010.
  4. ^ Furia, Philip (2003). Skylark: The Life and Times of Johnny Mercer. New York: St. Martin's Press. p. 85. ISBN 0-312-28720-8.
  5. ^ "allmusic.com". allmusic.com. Retrieved June 25, 2017.
  6. ^ Reynolds, Fred (1986). The Road to Hollywood. Gateshead, UK: John Joyce and Son. p. 79.
  7. ^ "American Film Institute". afi.com. Retrieved June 25, 2017.
  8. ^ "Internet Movie Database". imdb.com. Retrieved June 25, 2017.
  9. ^ "Internet Movie Database". imdb.com. Retrieved June 25, 2017.
  • Who Wrote that Song by Dick Jacobs & Harriet Jacobs, published by Writer's Digest Books 1993 (2nd Edition)

External links[edit]