Cover image for Singing in the saddle : the history of the singing cowboy
Singing in the saddle : the history of the singing cowboy
Green, Douglas B.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Nashville : Country Music Foundation Press : Vanderbilt University Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
xvi, 392 pages : illustrations ; 27 cm
The lure of the West -- The cowboy and song -- Western music in the air : record and radio to 1934 -- The Sons of the Pioneers and Billy Hill : painting the West in song -- Western music rides to the big screen -- Gene Autry : public cowboy #1 -- The next generation : Tex Ritter, Roy Rogers, Dick Foran, Ray Whitley, and the rest of the posse -- Roy Rogers : king of the cowboys -- High noon : the musical western at its zenith -- Riding into the celluloid sunset -- In the ether : radio, records, and television from 1935 -- The fallow years -- Revival.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML400 .G73 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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A singing cowboy himself, Douglas B. Green (better known as Ranger Doug from the Grammy-award-winning group Riders In The Sky) is uniquely suited to write the story of the singing cowboy. He has been collecting information and interviews on western music, films, and performers for nearly thirty years. In this volume, he traces this history from the early days of vaudeville and radio, through the heyday of movie westerns before World War II, to the current revival.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

These two books explore the Western film genre, which is almost as old as the movie medium itself. In Cowboy, George-Warren (How the West Was Worn) offers a loving, well-illustrated tribute to the Western and its lore, from dime novels to Stetson hats. As the author points out, the connection between the Hollywood Western and reality was often a bit tenuous. Cowgirls, singing cowboys, and matinee idols (including unlikely figures like Cagney and Bogart) may have ruled the box office, but directors like John Ford, Howard Hawks, and Anthony Mann brought mythmaking, spectacle, and hard-edged realism to the genre. Westerns peaked in popularity in the 1950s and 1960s and have rarely appeared since on television or at the multiplex. Cowboy certainly doesn't break any new ground, but George-Warren provides a glimpse of what we have lost, and public library patrons are likely to enjoy the nostalgic text and pictures. Music historian Green, also a member of Western swing group Riders in the Sky, resurrects a nearly forgotten era in his thorough history of the singing cowboy. Singing cowboys were numerous, but only a few, notably Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, and Tex Ritter, achieved lasting success. However, as the author notes, even after Hollywood lost interest, singing cowboys influenced country music and regional television. Singing cowboys have enjoyed a modest revival on stage and records in recent years, though it seems the tradition in Hollywood has ridden into the sunset permanently. Cowboy is recommended for all public libraries, while Singing should find a place in large country music and film collections.-Stephen Rees, Levittown Regional Lib., PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

An independent scholar and, as "Ranger Doug," a founder of the western music revival group Riders in the Sky, Green has compiled what may be the definitive history of cowboy singers and songs. Beginning with a brief overview of western history and lore, the author quickly plunges into the fact and fantasy of cowboy songs in the 19th century, before moving on to western music on radio beginning in the 1920s. Green differentiates cowboy music from country/hillbilly music--although the two often overlapped in presentation and in the public's perception--and gives considerable attention to the singing cowboys of movies, particularly Gene Autry, who reached their peak in the 1930s. Interest in singing cowboys faded after WW II, and the western genre almost disappeared by the 1970s and was only recently revived. Green includes hundreds of detailed biographies, scores of illustrations, and a time line. With this book he adds considerable detail to a literature that includes Peter Stanfield's more theoretical Horse Opera: The Strange History of the 1930s Singing Cowboy (CH, Nov'02), and he greatly extends Bill Malone's rich music histories, beginning with Country Music U.S.A. (1968; 2nd rev. ed., 2002). ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. All collections. R. D. Cohen Indiana University Northwest