NEW:  20 Versions of "Ghostriders in the Sky" MP3 for your listening pleasure!
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NEW!  Boston Pops Version

To download above songs, right click mouse and select "save target as" and place on your PC whatever directory you wish.  Requires a MP3 player such as Microsoft Media Player

Spectre Lyrics             Historical Article about our song

Donated by Jeff Noecker Spectre 1970-71

Engine Start Taxi to Runway Taxi and Crew Brief
Final Prep and Takeoff 40MM & 20MM Gunfire! More 20MM!
Getting Bad on a TIC
(Troops in Contact)

Stereotypical Viet Nam era mission

Submitted by Jeff Noecker, courtesy of Tom Combs, Crew Chief 044, "Prometheus", 1971-72

Original song composed  by Harry Geohring for his uncle David and his Father!  "From Here On Out"...update:  Latest version:
NEW!!!  Compliments of and BOB WOLFE
EVERY Version of Ghostriders in the Sky!!!  Just click the "Play" VCR Button Below and the forard and back buttons for next versions...enjoy!!!

Spectre Theme Song

16th Special Operations Squadron,  Ubon, Thailand

Sung to music "Ghost Riders in the sky"

Words by:  TSGT David M. Burns, Gunner AC-130 Gunship and SGT Fred Moorehouse, Buff (Jolly Green)

A young airman was working on one dark and windy night,
Upon a bench he rested as he thought about his flight
When all at once a mighty fleet of big blacks birds he saw,
A flying through the darkened skies and up a bloody draw.


The planes were black and deadly and their guns were made of steel,
There guns were firing heavy and the sensors he could feel,
A bolt of fear went through him as they flew through the sky
For he saw the gunners working, and he heard their mournful cry,


Their faces gaunt, their eyes were blurred, their shirts all soaked with sweat.
They're trying hard to gun the trucks, but they ain't gunned all yet
cause they're got to fly forever in the Southeast Asian Skies,
On planes a shooting fire, as they fly on hear their cry.


As the I.O. flew on by him, he heard one call his name.
If you have no fear then volunteer to fly upon our planes.
Then airman with us you will fly these Southeast Asian Skies.
A trying to gun them Gomer Trucks, across these endless skies.


If you ever get in trouble, your call sign is your game,
Jolly Green will pick you up and take you home again.
So you can fly forever in Southeast Asian Skies
With Buff standing by, Spectre cannot die.


Through these hills and valleys we will fly forever more,
One for all and all for one until we are no more.
No Triple "A" can touch us as we do our deadly deed,
For we are the bravest of the brave, a very special breed.


Awesome Historical Article about our song:
GHOST RIDERS IN THE SKY   Courtesy of Print E-mail
Monday, 11 May 2009
Song of the Week #127
by Stan Jones

Or "Riders In The Sky". Or "(Ghost) Riders In The Sky". Or "Riders In The Sky (A Cowboy Legend)". Or just plain "Ghost Riders", or "Ghostriders", or half-a-dozen other variations over the years. But, however you label it, it's a song unlike any other. It made its appearance sixty years ago, when versions by Peggy Lee, Bing Crosby and Burl Ives chased Vaughn Monroe up the hit parade, to be followed over the decades by Frankie Laine, Dean Martin, Marty Robbins, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, the Doors, Blondie's Debbie Harry, the DNA Vibrators, and the German heavy metal band Die Apokalyptischen Reiter. But, with all due respect to those fine vocal artistes, the song's melodrama is made for a big-voiced baritone like Vaughn Monroe. This very week - May 14th 1949 - he and his orchestra hit Number One on the Billboard chart, and America was gripped by one of the spookiest tales ever to haunt the jukebox:

An old cowpoke 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-plowin' through the ragged skies and up a cloudy draw

Yippee-yi-yay, yippee-yi-yo
The ghost herd in the sky...

A ghost herd in the sky? Where did that come from? From a guy called Stan Jones - and it was, as they say on the TV movies, based on a true story. Stan was born in 1914 near Douglas, in southeastern Arizona, and by the age of 12 was working at the D Hill Ranch. "I'd been sent out to do a chore," he recalled, "so I saddled up my horse and took off. After I'd finished my work, it was beginning to blow up a storm, and, not having my poncho along, I decided to take an old path up over the mountain, which was between me and the ranch house. I was hoping to beat the rain, 'course. Well, right up on top of the ridge, I met an old, old cowpuncher, sort of a weird old fellow."

This was a leathery cuss called Cap Wells, and, without even turning his head to look at young Stan, he said, "Son, look up into the sky and you'll see the red-eyed cows of the devil's herd." And the boy looked up, and, by golly, there they were:

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...

It was, in fact, a meteorological effect: a peculiar cloud formation caused by the collision of hot and cold air currents. The clouds darkened, and lightning flashed, and it really did look like a ghost herd pursued by ghost riders:

A bolt of fear shot through him as he looked up in the sky
For he saw the riders comin' hard and he heard their mournful cry...

And the "bolt of fear" was certainly real. The old cowboy told the 12-year old that if he wasn't careful he'd be joining the ghost riders, accursed to chase steers across the desert sky for all eternity. "I was scared," said Stan. "You never saw a horse or boy get off a mountain so fast in your life."

Jones grew up, left Douglas, worked in the copper mine in Jerome, Arizona, then as a logger in the Pacific Northwest, and eventually joined the National Park Service - which is when the ghost riders rode back into his life. "It was when I was stationed with the park rangers in Death Valley," he remembered. "I happened to look up into the sky. Well, sir, I saw that same kind of a cloud formation as I had way back the other time, and it sort of all came back to me. And I went inside and wrote the song":

An old cowpoke went riding out one dark and windy day
Upon a ridge he rested as he went along his way...

"Riders In The Sky" is one of those compositions whose creation we can date precisely: June 5th 1948. It was Stan Jones' 34th birthday, and with the help of his guitar he fleshed out the scene he'd first witnessed on top of the mountain 22 years earlier - the thundering herd of hot-breathed, red-eyed cattle, pursued by the eternally damned cowboys:

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

Yippee-yi-yay, yippee-yi-yo
Ghost Riders In The Sky...

It's a narrative-driven song, and it wouldn't strike many musicologists as the most interesting tune in the world, but it's undeniably effective, especially on those ominous low notes at the end of each verse, followed by the "mournful cry" of the ghost riders' yippee-yi-yay. And Stan Jones wrapped it up with the warning he'd been given all those years ago by ol' Cap Wells:

The cowpokes loped on past him and he heard one call his name
If you want to save your soul from hell a-ridin' on our range
Then, cowboy, change your ways today or with us you will ride
A-trying to catch the devil's herd across these endless skies

Yippee-yi-yay, yippee-yi-yo
Ghost Riders In The Sky...

A shame that after all those great rhymes in the first stanzas ("steel"/"feel", "sweat"/"yet"), Jones falls back on two bum pairings like "name"/"range" and "ride"/"skies". Still, not bad for a couple of hours' work. But so what? Jones was a park ranger. Fat lot of good it does you turning out hit songs in the middle of Death Valley. Stan and his wife Olive lived in a house with no TV, radio, or even telephone, so he wasn't exactly hip to the latest trends in pop music: Just making contact with the rest of the world involved a long dusty pick-up ride.

But sometimes the world comes to you. Hollywood was making a lot of westerns in those days, and no longer on the back lot. So the National Park Service decided it might be useful to have a guy they could refer the movie people to when they came out from Los Angeles to scout for the best locations. No-one knew the lie of the land like Stan Jones, so he wound up with the gig. After a long hot day's filming, there wasn't much for cast and crew to do of an evening, so it was kind of relaxing to sit under the stars round the campfire while Stan sang a few of his songs. And one night, for the boys from the John Ford picture Three Godfathers, the park ranger got out his guitar and sang a weird tale about a "ghost herd in the sky". It surely must have been especially eery under a desert moon with the flames of the fire flickering against the endless dark. When the song was over, the film crew told him he needed to get a publisher in Los Angeles.

So he went to California and pounded pavement and knocked on doors, and Burl Ives liked "Riders In The Sky". And, when Burl's recording session was over, someone in the studio tipped off Vaughn Monroe that there was a helluva song he'd just heard and Vaughn ought to get to it right away. By Stan Jones' 35th birthday - one year to the day after writing the song - he'd had a Number One record (Monroe's) plus three other hit versions, by Ives, Bing Crosby and Peggy Lee, plus a Gene Autry movie called Riders In The Sky, in which the singing cowboy performs the song no less than three times. Of these early interpretations, I confess I'm entirely antipathetic to at least one of them. A little Burl Ives goes way too long with me. I'll never forgive him his record of "Swingin' On A Star". Instead of "if that kind of life is what you wish", Burl sings:

But then if that kind of life is what you want
You may grow up to be a fish...

How come nobody noticed that "want" doesn't rhyme with "fish"? So I have no regrets that he got beaten to the punch on "Ghost Riders". As for Peggy Lee, longtime readers know I love her, but "Ghost Riders" is a song that loses a lot of power when a woman sings it. Crosby is fine, although he takes it, as he did most things, in his stride - so that the overall effect is "Hey, there's some zombie cowboys stampeding ghost cows across the sky, but it's no big deal..." Monroe's version deservedly came out on top - at least as far as I'm concerned. By contrast, Stan Jones never hesitated when asked to name his favorite recording: the Sons of the Pioneers, whose frontman Bob Nolan wrote our Song of the Week #97, "Tumbling Tumbleweeds".

By now, Jones knew guys like Bob Nolan, and John Ford. The cowboy actor George O'Brien introduced Jones to Ford, who liked his songs so much he signed him to write the score for The Wagon Master, with his pals the Sons of the Pioneers handling the vocals. Jones went on to compose for The Searchers and Rio Grande, in which he also appears, as the sergeant who presents the "regimental singers" (the Sons of the Pioneers) to John Wayne. For just over a decade, "Riders In The Sky" gave a park ranger from Death Valley a life he could never have dreamed of - pop hits, major movies, albums, and the TV series "Sheriff of Cochise". He was working on a novel about Queen Nefertiti when he was diagnosed with cancer. He died aged 49 in 1963, and was buried in the town cemetery back in Douglas, in his beloved Arizona.

Stan Jones never heard Duane Eddy's twang-the's-thang guitar version of "Ghost Riders", one of the earliest of the many instrumental versions, from the Ramrods to the Scorpions, from the Swedish rockers the Spotnicks to the Shadows' British hit single of the early Eighties. Jones never heard Dick Dale or the Ventures' surf "Riders". He never heard Elvis sing it, nor Johnny Cash. He never heard Milton Nascimento warble it in Portuguese, or Ned Sublette perform it as a merengue. He never heard the Doors song "Riders Of The Storm", which Robbie Krieger used to say was inspired by "Riders In The Sky". He never heard the band Riders In The Sky, nor saw the movie Ghost Rider, which includes a rock version of the song by Spiderbait. Of course, in some ways "Riders In The Sky" is merely a western variant of the old European myth of the wilde jagd - the "wild hunt" in which, on stormy nights, various Norse gods, local kings, legendary warriors, or just a bunch of no-name lost souls ride across the dark clouds lit up by lightning flashes. Likewise, the first Pirates Of The Caribbean would have rung a few bells with Stan Jones. But no one has ever taken the legend and distilled it so perfectly in music - now and for all time:

'Cause they've got to ride forever on that range up in the sky
On horses snortin' fire, as they ride on hear their cry:

Yippee-yi-yay, yippee-yi-yo
Ghost Riders In The Sky...

Stan Jones died too young. No soul in torment cursed to ride the storm-tossed skies, but a man at rest in the town of his birth, whose gravestone bears the words of his song "Resurrectus":

I'll see him in the sunrise
And just as day is done
No more to walk in darkness
For I know now my cares are none.


Copyright 2008. Spectre-Association. All rights reserved.