Western Music
The Lone Writer  

Western Song: Cowpoke

American songwriter, actor, and country legend Stan Jones wrote the track, Cowpoke. The song became one of his biggest hits, along with Ghost Riders in the Sky. He grew famous for writing Western music, including composing songs and acting in small parts for various Western films. Members of the Western Writers of America included Cowpoke and two more of his compositions ([Ghost] Riders in the Sky” and the theme from The Searchers) in the Top 100 Western songs of all time.

Meanwhile, American country music singer, songwriter, and guitarist Elton Britt and The Skytoppers recorded Cowpoke in June 1951. The first release of its audio single happened in August of the same year.

The song talks about the wandering life of a cowboy. Its lyrics reveal the hardships they face, like loneliness and going broke, evident in its first lines, “I’m lonesome but happy, rich but I’m broke.”

Different covers from artists appeared years after its release, including Rex Allen, Johnny Western, and Hank Williams Jr. Moreover, Jan Vyčítal wrote a Czech adaptation of Cowpoke in 1972, entitled “Značkovací železo.”

Popular Recordings

Several versions of the song were recorded by the following artists:

  • Rex Allen with Harry Gellerr & His Orchestra (September 1951)
  • Slim Whitman (August 1958)
  • Johnny Western (May 1962)
  • Eddy Arnold (August 1963)
  • David Houston (June 1964)
  • Hank Williams Jr. (September 1965)
  • Mud Acres (1972)
  • Riders in the Sky (1982)
  • Glen Campbell (October 1985)
  • Don Walser and The Pure Texas Band (1992)
  • Dave Stamey (1997)
  • Wylie & The Wild West (August 1998)
  • Supersuckers (2002)

Listen (Elton Britt Version)

Cowpoke Lyrics

[Yodeling & Guitar]

I'm lonesome but happy, rich but I'm broke
And the good Lord knows the reason I'm just a cowpoke

From Cheyenne to Douglas, all the ranges I know
Cause I drift with the wind, no one cares where I go


Well I ain't got a dime in these old worn out jeans
So I'll stop eatin' steak and go back to beans

But I'll pick up a ten spot in Prescott I know
Well, I'm ridin' the broncs in the big rodeo


Some evenin' in the springtime a filly I'll find
And I might spend all summer with her on my mind

But I'll never be branded and never be broke
I'm a carefree range ridin', driftin' cowpoke.


Leave A Comment

book cover mockup for Western Writing

Looking for an Epic Western Adventure? Look No Further!

How would you like to ride hell-bent for leather into a world full of adventure and heroism?

Get Your Free Copy Today>>