Out West

15 Classic Cowboy and Vaquero Songs


Getting anywhere out West requires a little drive time. Here are 15 all-time classics for the road.

The West, by both its geography and its character—covers some big and glorious country. Getting anywhere by road takes time and the region has contributed some classic tunes that for countless road warriors heading to rodeos, brandings or just to town have helped shorten the miles. Here are 15 truly classic songs—favorite go-to moments for the road.


1. The Vaquero Song

Dave Stamey — Live in Santa Ynez

Dave Stamey is the Charlie Russell of cowboy music. His words and music take the listener deep into the stories he tells. “The Vaquero Song” is an ode to the vaqueros of Old California and their mystical ways with horses and cattle.


2. El Paso

Marty Robbins — Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs

This unforgettable ballad became Robbins’ signature song after its release in 1959. He was inspired to write the song having grown up hearing stories of range wars and cantina fights from his grandfather “Texas” Bob Heckle — who had experienced them all.

Judy Collins

3. Someday Soon

Judy Collins — Colors of the Day: The Best of Judy Collins

Many people have covered this Ian Tyson classic about the road life of a rodeo cowboy and the girl who wants him to stay. Collins’ haunting version is timeless in its message and delivery.

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