Cover Songs (and Poetry)


Dolan Ellis shows consist mostly of his original songs, but he has a significant repertoire of covers.  And when he covers a song, it truly becomes a “Balladeer” song!


Dolan has covered many “Arizona” or “American Southwest” songs that work well for him.  His arrangement and presentation of “Sail Ho!“, a dramatic song about prospectors who see sailing ships in Arizona’s Superstition Mountains as they die of thirst, especially with the photography, is outstanding. There are 1960s recordings of this unique song by John Raitt (the Broadway star who happens to be Bonnie Raitt’s father) and Robert Horton, the actor who played Clint on the great Wagon Train series.

There are songs written by or recorded by Travis Edmonson, Ray Charles, Terry Gilkyson, Michael Martin Murphy, Roberta Flack, Josh White and Frank Sinatra.  There are also songs that Dolan sang when he was with the New Christy Minstrels, including one written by fellow Minstrel, Art Podell.  For many of the covers, such as The Nearness of You, (as well as some of his originals), Dolan’s baritone voice takes on a mellow, romantic sound


Be sure to check out the other pages with videos: Dolan’s Original Songs and the Humor page.  There’s also a Themes page to give you even more of an idea of the versatility of this dynamic performer.


PLEASE NOTE: The video clips on this page are not from the “…after the show (™)” DVD, which is a professional recording using three cameras and excellent sound equipment.  They are intended to show Dolan’s diversity, his talent as a singer and guitarist, his energy, and his incredible stage personality.

For those who have seen Dolan Ellis perform, we hope the videos will bring back fond memories, whether you last saw him a week ago or 30 years ago.  For anyone who has never seen a Dolan Ellis show, we invite you to watch and listen and understand why this man has been chosen by eleven consecutive Arizona governors to be Arizona’s Official State Balladeer.


Abilene: Dolan tends to tease us with this song, sometimes inserting some humorous lyrics. He sings a bit of it on the “…after the show™” DVD and often does the same on stage.

Adios, Arizona: Written by Dolan’s long-time friend, Igor Glenn, who was a member of the New Christy Minstrels around 1969 through 1971 and who now leads a great group called Igor’s Jazz Cowboys.   Recorded on the “…after the show™” DVD to mark Dolan’s departure from Phoenix to Los Angeles in the early 1960s, a move that led to his stint with the New Christy Minstrels.

Adios, Mi Corazon : See the listing for A Border Affair.

America the Beautiful: Nobody sings this song like Dolan. It’s a medley that begins and ends with the words inscribed on the Statue of LIberty. He sings all the verses, beautiful words sung by a wonderful voice with a lot of feeling.  This song is almost always included in Dolan’s patriotic theme shows (Memorial Day, Independence Day, Veteran’s Day).  He sang it at the Tucson VA Hospital for the Veteran’s Day celebration in 2004 and again by popular demand at that same concert in 2005.

This video, captured during Memorial Day Weekend 2007, has the beginning of the medley, when Dolan sings the inscription on the Statue of LIberty.

Autumn Leaves: Dolan’s version is great, and it comes complete with beautiful slides, many of them taken in Oak Creek Canyon. He sings it as a medley with “California Dreamin’.”

A Border Affair: From a poem written by Charles Badger Clark around the turn of the 20th century, this is one of the sweetest of love songs. The song is also known as “Adios Mi Corazon” or “Spanish is the Loving Tongue.” It’s recorded on the “…after the show™” DVD.

Buddy Can You Spare a Dime: The depression era song, which Dolan sings with a lot of soul and often with a tear in his eye.

California Dreamin’: Sung as part of a medley with “Autumn Leaves,” this song helps to create a special autumn afternoon. The quality of this video is not good, but the sound is great and it’s one more example of the way Dolan Ellis adds drama to his music.

Christmas Cowboy Style : Written by Michael Martin Murphy, it’s the cowboy way of celebratin’ Christmas, complete with a bit of yodeling.

Christmas Trail: A song from a Charles Badger Clark poem, written in the early 1900s while Clark was working as a rancher near Douglas. It’s the timeless story of the young man who leaves his family to seek his fortune, but is excited to return to the family hearth. The cowboy recounts the seasons of the past year as he nears the family’s home.  This was the song Dolan used for his 2005 Balladeer Christmas card.

A Cowboy’s Prayer: Most people recite this as a poem, but Dolan sings it, and it’s truly a beautiful song.

Cry of the Wild Goose: Written by Terry Gilkyson, leader of the 1950s/1960s group Easy Riders. It’s recorded on the”…after the show™” DVD.

Desperado: Dolan includes this Eagles hit in his cowboy theme shows. Dolan’s voice is perfect for the song, and the photographs he uses, especially the closeups of the weathered cowboy, are really wonderful.

:Watch a clip of Desperado, complete with some of Dolan’s beautiful photography.

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face: Dolan was singing this song long before Roberta Flack did, and his arrangement and delivery are wonderful. You can hear it (and see him sing it) on the “…after the show™” DVD.

Fools of the Trade : Dolan leaned this song, written by Ray Herndon, around 2005. It’s a good song about the life of a traveling musican.

Watch a clip of Fools of the Trade. Dolan sings while the camera focuses on artists’ signatures in the Green Room of the Arizona Folklore Preserve. (Although this video segment does not show Dolan, he is singing the song especially for the vdeo–it is not a separate sound track. So, at least symbollically, he is singing to the175 or so AFP guest artists)

You can hear more of the song and see more of the artist wall on the AFP Guest Artists page.

Georgia On My Mind : Dolan’s voice is perfect for this song written by the late, great Ray Charles.

Green, Green: One of the biggest hits for the New Christy Misntrels; Dolan’s guitar is on the opening of the song. Dolan doesn’t normally sing it, but he did include it in the New Christy Minstrels medly on the “…after the show™” DVD.

Hallelujah I Just Love Her So: Dolan uses this song to commemorate the life and music of one of his early heroes, Josh White. This song is recorded on the “…after the show™” DVD.

Hard Times Blues: Josh White wrote this one, and it is really a proof of Dolan’s  incredible versatility.

John Henry: This is a song Dolan will typically include in a Labor Day weekend show.  It turned out to be a big hit in June 2002, when Dolan hosted Igor Glenn and Ian Macpherson at the Arizona Folklore Preserve for a weekend of great music.  There’s a funny beginning to this song on the Humor page, but this one is serious (except, of course, for the little blooper you might notice).

Julianne: A New Christy Minstrels song from the “Tall Tales, Legends & Nonsense” album. Dolan doesn’t normally sing it, but he did include it in the New Christy Minstrels medly on the “…after the show™” DVD.

Malaguena Salerosa: A beautifully romantic, classic, traditional Mexican song, the only song that Dolan regularly sings in the Spanish language.

The video below is from a show at the Arizona Folklore Preserve.  It seems off-centered because the camera was set for taping Dolan with the large-screen photography, and was unattended.  Romantics will probably forgive that.

Notice the unusual guitar strum.  It’s a Mexican specialty, referred to as “Huapango.”

A beautiful version of this entire song is available on video, on Dolan’s “…after the show™” DVD.

A new and improved video. This was taken in February 2007. The sound was great that night, although the lighting was poor. Dolan’s voice was also great, and gave the sound system a lot to work with.

The Man in the Big Hat is Buying: Dolan uses this song, written at Harold’s Cave Creek Corral, to close his cowboy theme shows . The message is strong, about the importance of the cowboy in making the West what it is today.

A clip from a video taken at the Arizona Folklore Preserve during the “Gathering Weekend” in February 2004.

May the Road Rise Up to Meet You: This song comes from an Irish prayer, and was written by a friend of Dolan’s. He likes to use it to close his shows, and has some wonderful photography to go along with it. He closed the “…after the show (TM)” DVD with this song.

Video from a February 2007 concert. Notice that Dolan is having a little fun with the chorus lyrics on (or rather, off) the screen. He uses two projectors, and one was causing a bit of a problem. On top of that, the enitre system was too close to the screen (the only setup available), causing the slides to be distorted. It’s just an example of Dolan making lemonade when given lemons, as any highly professional entertainer will do.

My Favorite Things: Dolan likes to do this song for Christmas or Mother’s Day.

The Nearness of You: The smoothest of the smooth. Recorded on the “”…after the show™” DVD.

Watch Dolan singing this romantic song. Recording made at the Arizona Folklore Preserve.You’ll see Igor Glenn (to the left, playing bass), and Ian Macpherson (to the right) on stage with Dolan.

Old Folks: For Dolan, this is not just a “Song I Seldom Sing,” it’s a “Song I Almost Never Sing.”  But he did sing it once when the tape was running, and it’s a very sweet, nostalgic, bluesy song, worth watching.

By the way, that’s Travis Edmonson up front in the red jacket, and that’s his hearty laugh at the end of the song.

One for My Baby : This is a song Dolan doesn’t sing very often, but he includes it in his special smooth jazz shows at times. It’s certainly a special treat.

Dolan Ellis cover songs continued…

Quiet Room: This is a song written by Chad Mitchell, a musician Dolan has always admired very much.

Ramblin’: One of the big New Christy Minstrels hits. Dolan doesn’t normally sing it, but he did include it in the New Christy Minstrels medley on the “…after the show™” DVD.

Rock Springs: A Dean Cook / Lon Austin / Stan Young Christmas song.  Dean Cook is a top Arizona songwriter who composed many of the songs Sue Harris performs.  Dolan heard Sue sing “Rock Springs” at a concert where they shared the stage at Scottsdale Community College in December 2003.  He immediately fell in love with the song and decided it should be a part of his repertoire.  The song is autobiographical.  Dean grew up in Flagstaff and his grandparents lived in Phoenix.  The song tells of the very long Christmas trip of those days, where they stopped to eat, how common it was to have car trouble, the changing of weather as they descended from the high mountains to the low desert, and the resultant change in vegetation.

Dolan has selected Rock Springs as the song for his 2006 Balladeer Christmas Card.

Sail Ho : A very dramatic song about  three men who search for gold in the desert.  As each in turn dies of thirst, he sees sailing ships coming to the rescue.  Dolan uses his great photography, with the Superstition Mountains as the location, and with the saguaros and the mountains themselves to illustrate just  how a person might have such a mirage. 

This song was a wonderful find for Dolan, a perfect Arizona song that’s a part of his Summertime theme show.  It was on an album by John Raitt (Bonnie Raitt’s father, of course, and a Broadway star).

We have recently become aware of another recording of Sail Ho. Robert Horton, who played Clint on the popular Wagon Train television series, and later went on to become a Broadway star, recorded the song on a 45-RPM record opposite “Wagon Train” and also on an LP entitled “The Man Called Shenandoah.”

Scotch & Soda: Dolan often tells an “urban folklore” story when he sings this song on stage. It is included on the “…after the show™” DVD.

The Sierry Petes: A poem written by Prescott cowboy (and Dartmouth graduate) Gail Gardner while on the train, heading for his World War I camp, and also known as “Tyin’ Knots in the Devil’s Tail.” Most people sing it, but Dolan chooses to recite it, calling on his acting abiltiies, especially the ability to act like a very drunk man. It’s a fun part of most of his cowboy theme shows, and is included in the “…after the show™” DVD.

This poem is also on the “Chemistry” CD.

Snowbird: Anne Murray made it famous, and Dolan Ellis gives it a new outlook, and provides some beautiful winter photography to enhance the music and lyrics.

Spanish is the Loving Tongue: See the listing for A Border Affair.

The Star Spangled Banner: Dolan came up with a special arrangement of the National Anthem when he was asked to sing it before a Diamondbacks game.  He was able to include his special starting words, but because the fans cheer as soon as the last note of the song is hit, he had to omit his own ending, part of his tribute to men and women in uniform.  You can hear the entire song, plus the introduction and the ending, in these clips.

Summertime: Dolan has put together a unique arrangement for this song, blending many different originals and covers for his “summer” theme shows. The video below was taken in August 2006 and in the vault for a while.

Summertime video.

Take a Gal Like You: This is another blues song that Dolan learned from his great hero, Josh White. Take a Gal Like You: This is another blues song that Dolan learned from his great hero, Josh White.

Today: A classic New Christy Minstrels song written by their leader, Randy Sparks. Dolan seldom includes the Christies songs in his regular shows, but he did include it in the New Christy Minstrels medly on the “…after the show™” DVD.

This Land is Your Land : A classic New Christy Minstrels song. Dolan doesn’t normally sing it, but he did include it in the New Christy Minstrels medley on the “…after the show™” DVD.

Back in June 2003, Dolan not only sang some New Christy Minstrels songs, he also shared the Arizona Folklore Preserve stage with two old friends, Igor Glenn (a member of the New Christy Minstrels in the early 1970s) and Ian Macpherson (a 60s folksinger turned lawyer).  You can read about their visit.  They closed the show with this number.

Whatcha Gonna Do: Another Josh White song. The influence of these blues songs on much of Dolan’s own songwriting is apparent.

When the World was Young: A lovely Frank Sinatra hit, with “Oh, the apple trees…” in the chorus.

Wind Song: Travis Edmonson wrote this one in the early 1980s, and it’s one of the best Arizona songs to be heard anywhere. With Travis’ permission, the link for this song includes the complete lyrics. It deserves a lot of attention.

You Know My Name: Art Podell and Walter Schorr wrote this song in California, but when Dolan sings it, it sounds like an Arizona song.  Art of course was also an original member of the New Christy Minstrels and is performing with them again these days.

You’ve Got a Friend in Me:  From Disney’s Toy Story.