Western Song: Tonight We Ride
Tonight We Ride is a song by American singer-songwriter Thomas “Tom” George Russell. Although most well recognized in the Americana music tradition, his music also includes elements of folk, rock, and the cowboy music of the American West. Members of the Western Writers of America voted Tonight We ride together with another Russell song titled Navajo Rug to be included in the Top 100 Western songs of all time.
Aside from being a musician, Russell is also a painter and author. He published books such as:
- Songwriting quotes (co-edited with Sylvia Tyson)
- A detective novel (in Scandinavia)
- A book of letters with Charles Bukowski
- Two books from Bangtail Press: 120 Songs of Tom Russell, and Blue Horse/Red Desert – The Art of Tom Russell.
In 2016, a new book of essays called Ceremonies of Horsemen by Tom Russell was published originally in Ranch & Reata magazine. The essays are focused on the American West and also include an essay on Johnny Cash wherein Russell won a 2015 ASCAP AWARD for music journalism.
Frontera, the recording label of Russell, has published numerous books including accompanying pieces on two recording projects: The Rose of Roscrae and Folk Hotel and an essay/art book, The Ballad of Western Expressionism, and a novel, Against The Blood.
Artists Who Recorded The Songs of Tom Russell
Many of Russell’s songs have been recorded by other artists including:
- Johnny Cash
- The Texas Tornados
- k.d. lang
- Guy Clark
- Joe Ely
- The Sir Douglas Quintet
- Jason Boland
- Nanci Griffith
- Katy Moffatt
- Ramblin’ Jack Elliott
- American Rockband Sailcat
- Iris Dement
- Dave Alvin
- Suzy Bogguss
Listen (Tom Russell Version)
Tonight We Ride Lyrics
Panco Villa crossed the border in the year of ought sixteen The people of Columbus still hear him riding through their dreams He killed seventeen civilians you could hear the women scream Blackjack Pershing on a dancing horse was waiting in the wings Tonight we ride, tonight we ride We'll skin ole Pancho Villa, make chaps out of his hide Shoot his horse, Siete Leguas, and his twenty-seven bride Tonight we ride, tonight we ride We rode for three long years till Blackjack Pershing called it quits When Jackie wasn't lookin' I stole his fine spade bit It was tied upon his stallion, so I rode away on it To the wild Chihuahuan desert, so dry you couldn't spit Tonight we ride, you bastards dare We'll kill the wild Apache for the bounty on his hair Then we'll ride into Durango, climb up the whorehouse stairs Tonight we ride, Tonight we ride When I'm too damn old to sit a horse, I'll steal the warden's car Break my ass out of this prison, leave my teeth there in a jar You don't need no teeth for kissin' gals or smokin' cheap cigars I'll sleep with one eye open, 'neath God's celestial stars Tonight we rock, Tonight we roll We'll rob the Juarez liquor store for the Reposado Gold And if we drink ourselves to death, ain't that the cowboy way to go? Tonight we ride, tonight we ride Tonight we fly, we're headin' west Toward the mountains and the ocean where the eagle makes his nest If our bones bleach on the desert, we'll consider we are blessed Tonight we ride, Tonight we ride Tonight we ride, tonight we ride.