Western Song: Mule Train
Mule Train is a popular song written by Fred Glickman, Johnny Lange, Ramblin’ Tommy Scott, and Hy Heath. It was chosen by the Western Writers of America as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time.
The song was originally recorded in 1947 by Ellis “Buz” Butler Jr. and was released on Decca Records. He was the original writer of the song with Fred Glickman. It was featured on 1950 Republic Western Singing Guns and nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1950, but lost to “Mona Lisa”.
It is a novelty cowboy song, with the singer filling in the role of an Old West wagon driver, blasting his team of mules dragging a delivery wagon. As he does his job, the driver mentions the various mail-order goods he delivers to distant customers.
Charting Versions of Mule Train
- Frankie Laine’s innovative version that included studio effects set the standard for subsequent covers. Laine and the Muleskinners’ version recorded on October 2, 1949, released by Mercury Records, first reached the Billboard chart on November 4, 1949, and lasted 13 weeks on the chart, peaking at number 1.
- Bing Crosby recorded version first entered the Billboard chart on November 25, 1949, and lasted 16 weeks on the chart, topping at number 4. It was featured in an episode of NBC’s Lassie Show radio program titled “Mule Train”, aired on December 17, 1949.
- Tennessee Ernie Ford took his version to # 10 on the pop chart and # 1 on the country chart becoming the first song to top the “Country & Western Records Most Played By Folk Disk Jockeys” chart.
- Vaughn Monroe hit # 10 with a version in 1949. He also sang the song in the 1950 Western Singing Guns.
Other Notable Versions
Other artists who recorded their version of the song are:
- Woody Herman and The King Cole Trio, with Irving Ashby, Joe Comfort, and Gene Orloff
- Burl Ives
- Gordon MacRae
- Les Welch and his Orchestra
- Frank Ifield
- Gene Autry
- Rod McKuen
- Bo Diddley
- Count Prince Miller
Listen (Frankie Laine Version)
Mule Train Lyrics
Mule train! (Hyah, hyah) Mule train! Clippety cloppin' over hill and plain Seems as how they never stop, clippety clop, clippety clop Clippety, clippety, clippety, clippety, clippety cloppin' along There's a plug o'chaw tobacky for a rancher in Corona A ghee-tar for a cowboy 'way out in Arizona A dress of calico for a pretty Navajo Get along, mule!, get along Mule train! (Hyah, hyah) Mule train! Clippety cloppin' o'er the mountain chain Soon they're gonna reach the top, clippety clop, clippety clop Clippety, clippety, clippety, clippety, clippety cloppin' along There's some cotton thread and needles for the folks in way-out-yonder A shovel for a miner who left his home to wander Some rheumatism pills for the settlers in the hills Get along, mule!, get along Mule train! (Hyah, hyah) Mule train! Clippety cloppin' through the wind and rain They'll keep goin' till they drop, clippety clop, clippety clop Clippety, clippety, clippety, clippety, clippety cloppin' along There's a letter full of sadness trimmed with black around the border A pair of boots for someone who had them made to order A bible in the pack for the Reverend Mr. Black Get along, mule!, get along Get along, mule, get along! (mule train)