Ghost Riders in the Sky

This is an online fiddle lesson for the country song "Ghost Riders in the Sky." is your best source for Bluegrass, Old Time, Celtic, Gospel, and Country fiddle lessons!

Genre: Country
Skill Level: Beginner
Keys of Am, Bm, Dm and Em

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Video #1: Here is a video of me playing the country song "Ghost Riders in the Sky."

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"(Ghost) Riders in the Sky: A Cowboy Legend" is a cowboy-styled country/western song written in 1948 by American songwriter Stan Jones. The tune sounds similar to "Spancil Hill" (traditional Irish folk song by Michael Considine, Irish emigrant to the United States in the 1870s). A number of versions were crossover hits on the pop charts in 1949, the most successful being by Vaughn Monroe. Members of the Western Writers of America chose it as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time.

source: wikipedia

Ghost Riders in the Sky

An old cowboy went riding out one dark and windy day
Upon a ridge he rested as he went along his way
When all at once a mighty herd of red eyed cows he saw
A-plowing through the ragged sky and up the cloudy draw

Their brands were still on fire and their hooves were made of steel
Their horns were black and shiny and their hot breath he could feel
A bolt of fear went through him as they thundered through the sky
For he saw the riders coming hard and he heard their mournful cry

Yippie yi ooh
Yippie yi yay
Ghost riders in the sky

Their faces gaunt, their eyes were blurred, their shirts all soaked with sweat
He's riding hard to catch that herd, but he ain't caught 'em yet
'Cause they've got to ride forever on that range up in the sky
On horses snorting fire as they ride on hear their cry

As the riders loped on by him he heard one call his name
If you want to save your soul from hell a-riding on our range
Then cowboy change your ways today or with us you will ride
Trying to catch the devil's herd, across these endless skies

Yippie yi ooh
Yippie yi yay
Ghost riders in the sky
Ghost riders in the sky
Ghost Riders in the sky

Online Fiddle Lessons Forums Ghost Riders in the Sky

Viewing 11 posts - 1 through 11 (of 11 total)
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  • #42596

    John, when I was 20 yrs. old I moved to Western South Dakota & it was real cowboy country.  I knew old timers that lived in the 1800’s, who talked about seeing ghost riders and they were in the sky.  The term ghost riders was a common name among those old people, and everyone knew what it meant.  Of course it wasn’t the hollywood  type with eyes of fire etc.  but more like actual riders.

    It could be explained by mirages.  There are numerous, credible accounts of mirages that appeared in the sky out there.  It’s possible, with the incredibly dry, clear air, that years ago the pollutants we have now didn’t exist, and that could account for mirages being common.   Or, who knows, maybe it was something very other dimensional!   But, whatever, the ghost riders were credible and a part of the culture back then, and if those old people could hear this song, they would sit up and pay attention!


    Great Halloween lesson, John!  Rodger, I think you’re our resident cowboy!


    Thanks. My dad tried to play guitar at one time in his life. This was the song he worked on. Thanks for the lesson John!


    Have always loved this piece and will now make an attempt to play it.    Quite beautiful and includes some good advice too.   Thank you for providing it to us.

    John (BGD)John (BGD)

    It’s fun to play! I tabbed it in four different keys to match different vocal ranges.

    Rodger, if you can ever find time away from your work, I think you should write an autobiographical book. At least, turn the recorder on and start speaking these memories.


    Thanks for this lesson, and especially the different keys.  I’ve always likes this song and listening to the group “Riders in the Sky” play it.



    John (BGD)John (BGD)

    That is my favorite version, too!

    Great ScottGreat Scott

    Great lesson!  Great song!  Great fiddlin’!  Great voice!  Great hat!

    Great Scott!   🙂

    John (BGD)John (BGD)

    Haha thanks GS. I really am enjoying this hat!


    Got Ghost Riders into my practice and totally LOVE IT!   Seem to recall getting shivers the first time that I heard it and it still has that effect on me somewhat.  Will fit this one in frequently and sure appreciate getting the words too   Have tried to increase my practice time to about at least an hour a day and am very pleasantly surprised.   You  have a splendid site, sir!

    John (BGD)John (BGD)

    Thank you! Glad this one made it into your routine. It is a fun song!

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