"Cool Water" is a song written in 1936 by Bob Nolan. It is about a man and his mule, Dan, and a mirage in the desert. Members of the Western Writers of America chose it as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time.

Original versionEdit

The best-selling recorded version was done by Vaughn Monroe and The Sons of the Pioneers in 1948. The recording was released by RCA Victor Records as catalog number 20-2923. The record was on the Billboard magazine chart for 13 weeks beginning on August 6, 1948, peaking at #9. 

Other artistsEdit

Hank Williams recorded the song in 1948 or 1949 for the Johnny Fair Syrup Company radio show on KWKH in Shreveport, Louisiana. The recording is available on The Complete Hank Williams boxed set, released on Mercury Records in 1998. It also appears in the film Rango, set in an Old West town populated by animals that is suffering from drought. Every Wednesday, the townspeople perform a ritual they believe will return water to their town, during which the song plays over a PA system.

Frankie Laine and The Mellomen took it to #2 on the British charts in 1955.

Marty Robbins recorded the song on his 1959 album Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs.

Burl Ives recorded this song on his 1961 album Songs of the West.

Odetta recorded the song in 1963 on her One Grain of Sand album.

The Rooftop Singers recorded the song in 1963 on their Grammy nominated Walk Right In album.

Other covers of the song were done by Riders in the SkyJack ScottRamblin' Jack ElliottSlim WhitmanJohnnie Ray and Mason Williams, among others.

The Muppets (Lubbock Lou and His Jughuggers) also covered the song on the set for "Singin' in the Rain" in Episode 501 after Gene Kelly refuses to go on.

Joni Mitchell recorded "Cool Water" (with revised lyrics), released on Chalk Mark in a Rainstorm, March 23, 1988.

Leo Kottke performed a version on the album Burnt Lips.

Johnny Cash covered this on his second posthumous record American VI: Ain't No Grave [3]

Hank Marvin and Bruce Welch of The Shadows performed a version live on BBC in 1967 for the TV show After Ten Follows Ten.

Fleetwood Mac recorded Cool Water in 1982 on the Warner Bros label. It was on the flip side of their 45 RPM record of Stevie Nicks' recording of Gypsy but never appeared on any Fleetwood Mac album.

The Replacements included a version of Cool Water on their expanded edition of Pleased to Meet Me.

Bob Dylan and The Band recorded a version of Cool Water in 1967 and released it in 2014 on The Bootleg Series Vol. 11: The Basement Tapes Complete.


Frankie Laine version
Chart (1955) Peak


United Kingdom (NME) 2[4]
United Kingdom (Record Mirror) 1[5]