Cool Water / The Sons of the Pioneers / Written by Bob Nolan
Some things have been around so long we just take them for granted.
For some things are treasures and a wonderful part of our Heritage.
Cool Water is one such gem.
“”Cool Water” was written in 1936 by Bob Nolan.
It is about a parched man and his mule traveling a wasteland tormented by mirages.
Members of the Western Writers of America chose it as No. 3 on the Top 100 Western songs of all time.”
Nolan also wrote Tumbling Tumbleweeds.
How many can claim that they wrote 2 of the greatest Western Songs of all time?
Bob Nolan (1908 – 1980) was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, April 13, 1908. In 1929 he moved to California.
With Roy Rogers and Tim Spencer, he formed The Sons of the Pioneers in the 1930’s until it broke up in 1949.
That’s a heck of Legacy Bob.
In the song “Dan” is usually assumed to be the subject’s horse, but the term “Old Dan”
usually refers to a trustworthy mule in traditional cowboy colloquialism.
While he wrote cowboy songs including subjects like the desert, this song became popular
during the droughts of the Dust Bowl and Great Depression era. He wrote this poem as a teenager
after he had moved with his divorced father to Tuscon Arizon, and he put it to song twelve years later.
Bob Nolan’s original Cool Water lyrics:
All day I’ve faced a barren waste,
Without the taste of water, cool water.
Old Dan(2) and I with throats burnt dry,
And souls that cry for water,
Cool, clear water.
Keep a-movin’, Dan,
Don’t you listen to him, Dan,
He’s a devil not a man,
And he spreads the burning sand with water.
Dan, can you see that big green tree,
Where the water’s running free,
And it’s waiting there for me,
The nights are cool and I’m a fool,
Each star’s a pool of water, cool water.
But with the dawn, I’ll wake and yawn,
And carry on to water,
Cool, clear water.
The shadows sway and seem to say,
“Tonight we pray for water,
And way up there He’ll hear our prayer,
And show us where there’s water,
Cool, clear water.
Dan’s feet are sore, he’s yearning for,
Just one thing more than water,
Like me, I guess, he’d like to rest,
Where there’s no quest for water,
Cool, clear water.
Sung by Many
“It was first recorded by The Sons of the Pioneers on March 27, 1941, for Decca Records and briefly charted in 1941 with a peak position of No. 25. However, the best-selling recorded version was done by Vaughn Monroe and The Sons of the Pioneers in 1948.
The record was on the Billboard chart for 13 weeks …”
Over the Cool Water years it’s been interpreted by many Artists:
Cool Water Bob Atcher 1940 First recording on June 13, 1940
Cool Water Sons of the Pioneers April 1941
Cool Water Sunshine Girls with Cliffie Stonehead’s Harmony Homesteaders 1945
Cool Water Smiley Burnette with The Sunshine Girls 1945
Cool Water Dude Martin and His Round-Up Gang June 11, 1946
Cool Water Foy Willing and The Riders of the Purple Sage July 1946
Cool Water Kate Smith May 1948
Cool Water Nellie Lutcher and Her Rhythm July 1948
Cool Water Tex Ritter and The Dinning Sisters August 1948
Cool Water Sam Browne with The Quads and The Squadronaires directed by Jimmy Miller December 1948
Cool Water Vaughn Monroe with The Sons of the Pioneers 1948
Cool Water The Four Tunes November 1950
Cool Water Bing Crosby and The Andrews Sisters with Orchestra Directed by Matty Matlock 1952
Cool Water Bob Nolan 1954
Cool Water Frankie Laine March 1955
Cool Water The Norman Luboff Choir 1955
Cool Water Roy Rogers and Dale Evans August 1956
Cool Water Dave Pell Octet February 1957
Cool Water Roger Williams September 1958
Cool Water Polly Bergen and Bill Bergen May 1958
Cool Water Cliffie Stone August 1959
Cool Water Marty Robbins September 1959
Cool Water Johnnie Ray October 1959
Cool Water The Ames Brothers with Hugo Winterhalter and His Orchestra and Chorus 1959
Cool Water Jimmie Rodgers [US2] 1959
Cool Water The Diamonds 1959
Cool Water Hank Williams January 1960 Released more than 10 years after its recording
Cool Water The Browns featuring Jim Edward Brown March 1960
Cool Water Jack Scott July 1960
Cool Water Kate Smith with Bill Stegmeyer and His Orchestra 1960
Cool Water The Randy Van Horne Singers 1960
Cool Water Jack Marshall April 1960
Cool Water Burl Ives June 1961
Cool Water Stu Davis 1961
Cool Water Tex Ritter with Stan Kenton’s Orchestra July 1962
Cool Water Billy Vaughn 1962
Cool Water The Rooftop Singers November 1962
Cool Water Boston Pops Orchestra – Arthur Fiedler, Conductor 1962
Cool Water Jack Elliott March 1963 Live
Cool Water Eddy Arnold August 6, 1963
Cool Water Patti LaBelle and The Bluebelles 1963
Cool Water Odetta 1963
Cool Water Four Jacks 1963
Cool Water The Willis Brothers 1963
Cool Water Bobby Gregg and His Friends 1963
Cool Water The Bill Black Combo 1963
Cool Water Kai Winding August 1964
Cool Water John Hore accompanied by The Nick Smith Trio with Jerry Merito 1964
Cool Water Walter Brennan 1964
Cool Water John Hore 1964
Cool Water The Rangers [US2] 1964
Cool Water Dick Contino 1964
Cool Water Hank Snow with The Jordanaires November 1965
Cool Water Jim McNaught January 1966
Cool Water Gary McFarland and Gabor Szabo 1966
Cool Water Tom Jones March 24, 1967
Cool Water Teresa Brewer May 1967
Cool Water Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians July 1967
Cool Water Frank Ifield July 1967
Cool Water Nick Taylor 1967
Cool Water Johnny Nash March 1969
Cool Water Keith Manifold 1974
Cool Water Sleepy LaBeef 1976
Cool Water Sven Liljegren 1977
Cool Water Paul Bogart 1977
Cool Water Grady Martin 1977
Cool Water Royston 1978
Cool Water Trevor Adams 1978
Cool Water Spinning Wheel 1979
Cool Water Windsor Davies & Don Estelle 1979
Cool Water Lee Conway 1980
Cool Water Floyd Cramer 1980
Cool Water Fleetwood Mac August 18, 1982
Cool Water Shady Grove Ramblers 1983
Cool Water Riders in the Sky 1983
Cool Water Mason Williams 1984
Cool Water Joni Mitchell March 23, 1988 First release
Western Medley: Back in the Saddle Again … The Jordanaires 1991
Cool Water The Son of San Joaquin / 1992
Cool Water Jim Hendricks 1993
Cool Water The Gatlin Brothers June 8, 1994
Cool Water Michael Martin Murphey with The San Antonio Symphony Orchestra September 12, 1995 Live
Cool Water Wylie & The Wild West 1996
Cool Water Roland 1998
Cool Water Opera Cowpokes July 1999
Cool Water Craig Duncan 1999
Cool Water Swingsters 2001
Cool Water The Stay Tuned String Band 2002
Cool Water Viva Las Vegas 2002
Cool Water Trails & Rails October 2008
Cool Water Johnny Cash February 2010
Cool Water Michael Martin Murphey June 28, 2011
Cool Water Cow Bop 2011
Cool Water Daniel O’Donnell October 22, 2012
Cool Water Christian Masser 2013
Cool Water A Little Farther West January 6, 2017
Cool Water Jen Mize – Mark Sholtez 2018
Cool Water Hank Shizzoe 2019
There are many interpretations of Cool Water that are not listed here.