Tennessee Ernie Ford – Mule Train, is a popular song written by Johnny Lange, Hy Heath, Ramblin’ Tommy Scott and Fred Glickman. It is a cowboy song, with the singer filling the role of an Old West wagon driver, spurring on his team of mules pulling a delivery wagon. As he goes about his work, the driver mentions the various mail-order goods he is delivering to far-flung customers. “Mule Train” was originally recorded by Ellis “Buz” Butler Jr. in 1947. Butler was the original writer of the song along with Fred Glickman. The original recording was released by Buz Butler on Decca Records.
The song was featured in the 1950 Republic Western Singing Guns (where it was sung by Vaughn Monroe) and nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1950, but lost out to “Mona Lisa”.
Western Writers of America chose it as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time.
The Tennessee Ernie Ford version was recorded on October 18, 1949, and released by Capitol Records as catalog number 40258. The record first reached the Billboard chart on November 25, 1949 and lasted nine weeks on the chart, peaking at number 10. Ford’s version also charted on the Billboard country chart, reaching number 1 in December, becoming the first song to top the component “Country & Western Records Most Played By Folk Disk Jockeys” chart (on December 10, 1949). Like Laine’s version, Ford’s version contained whipcracking sound effects and shouting by the driver as he spurs on the mules.
Tennessee Ernie Ford – Mule Train
From the album Sixteen Tons
B-side “Anticipation Blues”
Released November 1949
Recorded October 18, 1949
Genre Country, folk