The lyrics provide a vision of the American west, the early pioneer settlers, and the working life of the cowboy. The many versions have been passed on by word of mouth over time. The author was unknown and it was regarded as a traditional folksong. Franklin D. Roosevelt, USA president 1933 - 45, declared this to be his favourite song.
Audio from Free Music Archive, issued with a Creative Commons
Attribution-Noncommercial No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License