Dolan Ellis has written more than 300 songs, and most are about Arizona and/or the American Southwest. Some are about people, some are about places, some are about events or occupations. All convey the special understanding Dolan has for his adopted state.
Some of Dolan’s more popular songs are alphabetized on this page with a brief description. Many have links to an additional page with further information which may include audio clips or photographs.
Dolan Ellis also carefully selects songs he didn’t write and arranges them to make them his own. There is a separate listing of those songs as well, which you can access when you click here.
And there is now a Dolan Ellis Humor page.. Much of the humor is associated with particular songs.
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 ten consecutive Arizona governors to be Arizona’s Official State Balladeer.
Along Came Man : This is one POWERFUL song! It’s recorded on the “Tuba City” CD. It can be described as an ecology song, and it was many years ahead of its time. “People, we’ve gotta save our land.”
Arizona Christmas: The subtitle is “Cactus and Christmas Trees,” and this song is all about the things that make Christmas in Arizona special and unusual. Dolan recorded it for the 2004 Christmas card.
Arizona History 101: This is actually an old folk song, with lyrics rewritten by Dolan to make it an Arizona song. The New Christy Minstrels recorded it as “The Great Historial Bum.”. This song is on the “Tuba City” CD.
Arizona I-10 Highway: Dolan still gets quite a few requests for this old song about the interstate stretch between Phoenix and Tucson. This song is on the “Touch the Earth” CD.
Backroads, Ballads and Beer: This is one of Dolan’s closing songs, from days of old. It’s fun and lively, and certainly would have sent the fans off in a good mood. This song is on the “Chemistry” CD.
Bitch, Bitch, Bitch: Dolan has a lot of fun with this song, included in the Cowgirls play and really written about a rancher who was Dolan’s neighbor on the Mogollon Rim. Some people are just never satisfied. It’s recorded on the “…after the show (™)” DVD and also on the “Cowgirls” CD.
The Bombing of Naco, Arizona: The story of Patrick Murphy, an Irishman who was a barnstormer in the 1920s, got drunk in Bisbee, and decided to join the Mexican Reviolutionaries in Naco, Arizona, in their fight against the Federales. This song is recorded on the Tall Tales, Lost Trails & Heroes“ CD.
Camino del Diablo: The Devil’s Highway, a 150-mile stretch in the far southwestern corner of Arizona, one of the driest and hottest desert areas to be found in the U.S. Recorded on the “Tall Tales, Lost Trails & Heroes” CD.Canyons: What a delightful song! Dolan Ellis, who loves to tell us he never had a “real” job (much to his mother’s chagrin) wrote a song about a man who has to make business calls, and all the time has “canyons layin’ on his mind.” This song is on the “Chemistry” CD.
Cowboy’s Vision: A Christmas song Dolan used for his first Balladeer Card, the Christmas card for 2002. Cowboy’s Vision was previously recorded on the “Touch the Earth” album (now a CD). The original recording was great, but it was updated for the Christmas card and is even more beautiful.
Cowgirl and the Devil: This song, written for the “Cowgirls” play and recorded on the “Cowgirls” CD, is one of the most theatrical of Dolan’s recordings.
Cowgirls: The theme song for the “Cowgirls” play. “Here’s to the cowgirls who live in their own world and sing their own kind of song…” Recorded on the “Cowgirls” CD. You may hear Dolan sing this one when on tour with the New Christy Minstrels. Includes yodeling.
Only the Dead Stay Down Another song from the Cowgirls play and recorded on the “Cowgirls” CD.
Early Morning Blue: A really beautiful, romantic song that unforunately fits in the list of “Songs I [Dolan] Seldom Sing.” . This song is on the “Chemistry” CD.
Electric Anthill: Dolan compares the lights of Phoenix highways, as seen from higher ground, to ants on an anthill. He wrote this song when the population was less than 25% of what it is now, so the Electric Anthill has become much more of a force. This song is on the “Touch the Earth” CD.
Flight to Phoenix :A song for the weary traveler, anxious to get back home. This song is included on the “Tuba City” CD.
Geronimo: One of Dolan’s greatest songs. It is just over 10 minutes on the “Tall Tales, Lost Trails & Heroes” CD and it takes about the same amount of time for him to introduce it and sing it on stage. When he sings it, Dolan, the actor, truly becomes Geronimo, and lives the life and experiences the emotions of this amazing Apache warrior.
Little One-Ghost Town: This is a great Halloween song, and even more fun with the large-screen photography that depicts the ghostly aspects of the deserted desert town. This song is on the “Tuba City ” CD.
Magic Mountain: A wonderful spiritual song about forces stronger than mankind. It’s the final track on “Tall Tales, Lost Trails & Heroes” CD and is another example of the drama Dolan Ellis can bring to the stage.
Mogollon Monster: The Mogollon Monster is Arizona’s answer to Big Foot. Dolan put a new twist on him, making him a litter eater who only bothers litterbugs. This song is on the “Chemistry” CD.
The Old Crook Trail: Both a biographical song about General George Crook of the Indian Wars, and a story of the trail he created on the Mogollon Rim. Recorded on the “Tall Tales, Lost Trails & Heroes” CD.
The Old Homestead: Dolan’s inspiration for this song was a run-down, deserted old ranch home he happened upon when he was alone on a camping trip, in an area that was almost 6,000 feet in elevation. He took photographs during the day at the ranch, then wrote the song from memory around his campfire that evening. The result is available on the “Touch the Earth” CD.
Only the Dead Stay Down: A song from Cowgirls, it’s both funny and serious. The point is that in the sport of rodeo, there are no time-outs and there is no room for wimps. This is available on the “Cowgirls” CD. >
Orphan of the Hills: This song is about the mustang horse and is included on the “Touch the Earth” CD. It’s a wonderful song that expresses the hope that the mustang breed will survive. The photography Dolan uses is not his own, but there are truly stunning pictures of herds of the wild horses.
This song is also available on the “Chemistry” CD. That’s a live recording, and Dolan sang most of the song, then recited “Tyin’ Knots in the Devil’s Tail” (see Cover Songs and Poems for description and video and audio clips of that poem), then sang the refrain for this song. Clips from both parts are below.
Son of the Desert: A semi-autobiographical song, this one reflects Dolan’s feelings about the desert and the Southwest. The hero of the song now “makes a living with a guitar in his hand.” It’s included on the “Touch the Earth” CD.
Rodeo Road: Another song from Cowgirls, a lively song about the life of a rodeo cowgirl. This is available on the “Cowgirls” CD.
Springerville: Dolan wrote this song on the plane, on the short trip from Lake Tahoe to Phoenix, in 1963 when he left the New Christy Minstrels to return to his beloved Arizona, Phoenix and Scottsdale. The song is recorded on the “Cowgirls” CD.
Song of Spring: Dolan wrote this song to celebrate spring in Arizona. HIs photography that goes with the song is truly spectacular, just as springtime in Arizona is. The song is recorded on the “Tuba City” CD and also as a single song in a greeting card package that includes the photography as a slide show on DVD.
“Springerville” was recorded several years earlier on the “Tuba City” CD. Listen to the difference on this clip:
Tall Tales, Lost Trails & Heroes: A theme song, recorded on the CD by the same title.
T.E. Wiley’s Train: Another of Dolan’s tributes to a man who did his job perhaps better than anyone else could have. Tom Wiley was the conductor on the passenger train from Ajo to Gila Bend (“41 miles through Midway and Childs and back home to Ajo again”). Wiley’s granddaughter, who is featured in the song, has a letter on the fan mail pages. This song is on the “Chemistry” CD.
Therapeutic 4-Wheel Drive: Dolan has written a lot of songs that are just plain fun, and this is one of them: “Is this trail too steep for my dusty old Jeep and can I get it to the other side.” It’s recorded on the “Touch the Earth” CD.
Tom Simmons: When Dolan Ellis writes a song about an “ordinary citizen,” you can bet there’s something extraordinary about that person. Tom Simmons was a good friend of Dolan’s, who had a cabin in the woods and lived a very simple life. This is a wonderful tribute. . This song is on the “Tuba City” CD. ]
Tuba City Truck Stop: The full title is “Who’s Gonna Run the Truck Stop in Tuba City When I’m Gone.” One of Dolan’s more fun songs, it’s a lively number that many of his fans from the 1970s request again and again. This one is recorded on the CD by the same title.
Underground Music: This song is about spelunking, or cave exploration. It’s part of the “Touch the Earth” CD and is illustrated on stage with some great photography.
Western Wind: This is a very good song that has fallen off of Dolan’s concert playlist. That happens when a musician composes so many songs. You can listen to it on the “Tuba City” CD.
Wildfire: A wonderful tribute to the firefighters who were finally able to stop the Rodeo-Chediski Fire of 2002. Dolan recorded Wildfire on a single-song CD available for purchase in support of Dolan’s “CDs for New Trees” campaign.
Wildflowers: A Cowgirls song that analogizes cowgirls and wildflowers: sturdy and strong and yet pretty. Included on the “Cowgirls” CD.
Yuppieville: A song from Cowgirls, one that reveals the greedy lifestyle of one of the champion cowgirls in the play. It’s recorded on the “…after the show (™)”” DVD as well as on the “Cowgirls” CD.
The following video clip was taken at the Arizona Folklore Preserve. In case you wonder why Dolan is looking up during the song, he’s referring to the photographs being displayed.
Amerizona: A whimsical, patriotic song about Arizona, “just a little itty bitty U.S.A.” It’s recorded on the “…after the show (™)” DVD.
Dolan was prominently featured on the Arizona portion of “The States,” a series of programs presented by the History Channel and now available on DVD. Apparently, only Arizona had a significant original music segment in their program, but then no other state has Dolan Ellis. He sang this song as images of Arizona appear on the screen (and Dolan is also seen).
Arizona: See Arizona, Through and Through
Arizona, Home to Me: This is a very good song that Dolan includes in his shows occasionally. It’s as much a travelogue and history lesson as a song, with photography to illustrate the various points.
The Ballad of Sheriff Joe: Dolan finished this song in February 2007 and first sang it at the Arizona Folklore Preserve on February 2nd. Since then, he has sung it at several of his solo shows, three times in Phoenix area concerts with the New Christy Minstrels, once for a jam session with many other professional musicians, and even for the Arizona State Senators on Statehood Day. Clearly, the song is a success, telling the colorful story of the colorful lawman, Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, the fourth largest county in the nation. Sheriff Joe is known for being tough, and Dolan’s song includes many gems, all true, such as the pink underwear, the chain-gang trash pickup crew, and the green baloney stew.Dolan has recorded the song with the New Christy Minstrels. Beautiful Sunsets, Beautiful Skies: This is a song with lyrics that can help one to imagine the scenery Dolan is singing about. When Dolan’s spectacular photography is displayed, one can see exactly what he had in mind. A video clip of this song, recorded in February 2007.
Call Me the Balladeer: One of Dolan’s theme songs, in which he expresses the feeling that the songs are more important than the singer. “Forget my face, forget my name, just call me the Balladeer.”Cochise County: Written for the display at Kartchner Caverns State Park, this song covers many aspects of Cochise County life.
Two video clips are presented here, each with Dolan singing at a campfire.Finally, video of this song, complete with photography, is added!
Frank Murphy’s Impossible Bradshaw Mountain Railroad: Frank Murphy was an Arizonan who refused to take no for an answer and as a result increased his riches significantly when he built a railroad that couldn’t be done. It’s recorded on the “Tall Tales, Lost Trails & Heroes” CD. Audio Clip.
The following video clips capture just a little of the drama of this song, as well as some wonderful vocal and guitar work by Dolan.(Goin’ Home to) Springerville. Please see Springerville below. Great Western Trail: Dolan will often open a show with this song: “Roll on, great western trail, take me back to track my heroes in those legends and those tales of the cowboy and the miner and the comin’ of the rail…”
Hummingbird Canyon: Dolan’s nickname for Ramsey Canyon, because it has almost all of the world’s hummingbird varieties. It’s a sweet song that includes references to the Arizona Folklore Preserve Dolan founded, such as in the line: “Out in Hummingbird Canyon where the folk songs are sung.”It’s a Lazy Afternoon: This song is part of the medley Dolan sings with “Summertime.” It’s a very dreamy song that fits perfectly with a summertime theme.
Jesus Garcia: Not an Arizona song, this is about a brave young man from Nacozari, Mexico, who in 1907 saved the town and its 5,000 inhabitants from disaster and lost his own life in the process. More than 100 statues have been placed around the Spanish-speaking world in honor of Jesus Garcia. The town was renamed for him. Many songs have been written in Spanish about his bravery, but Dolan’s is the only known tribute to Jesus Garcia that is written and sung in the English language.
The following video provides a sampling of Dolan’s photography taken at the site, but the beginning photo is of the town’s music teacher, Sister Katie Crawford, taken before Dolan was even born.
Lake Powell: Beautiful song, beautiful photography. Many people don’t realize there was a huge controversy over the construction of Glen Canyon Dam to create this incredible lake in the desert, and that there are still environmentalists who would love to drain the lake. In his introduction, Dolan always tells both sides of the controversy.
Leon the Peon: A song about a hippie, this comical number has a number of interesting twists.
Many Cherry Canyon Boy: A beautiful song made even more beautiful by Dolan’s photography of the (then) 15-year-old Navajo boy, Bart Begay, in his native Canyon de Chelly. Bart’s father, Key Begay, was Dolan’s guide on Navajo Christmas trips for many years and was murdered over a land dispute when Bart, the eldest son, was still a young teenager. Key’s CB handle was Many Cherry Canyon Man, and his son’s handle was Many Cherry Canyon Boy.
Although Dolan wrote the song for Bart Begay, it has a universal theme; that of a child honoring his people’s ancient traditions, while at the same time learning to live in the modern world.
It’s recorded on the “…after the show (™)” DVD.
May They Rest in Peace Renewed. A song Dolan wrote to be part of the ceremony of moving the remains of 57 Union Soldiers who had been buried in Tucson in the late 1800s and had been forgotten, to the Southern Arizona Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Sierra Vista.
A YouTube Video of the song is below.
My Rodeo Home: Fans of yodeling may find this to be among their favorite Dolan Ellis songs. It was written for the Cowgirls play and is included on the “Cowgirls” CD. There’s a bit of humor in the song about the life of a rodeo clown on the road.A close-up video of Dolan singing this song, complete with yodeling. Dolan is grinning as he sings this song.
The video below was taken at the Tanque Verde Guest Ranch east of Tucson, and the horses are not wild mustangs, but very sweet and tame. They seemed to be enjoying the taping session.
Ramsey Canyon Rainy Day: A bluesy song, perfect for singing on one of those rare stormy afternoons at the Arizona Folklore Preserve.
The Retirin’ of Old George Cline: A biographical song about a rancher in the Tonto Basin whose holdings were vast, who was a rodeo champion. “How can we say he died when the memory of a man is so much alive; let’s just call it the retirin’ of Old George Cline.” It’s recorded on the “…after the show (TM)” DVD.
River Holiday: Written in 2004, this is a relatively new song for Dolan. It was inspired by a river rafting experience.
Sheriff Joe: Please refer to the Ballad of Sheriff Joe.
Sierra Vista: Dolan wrote this song to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Sierra Vista Symphony in 2005, and to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the City of Sierra Vista in 2006. He sang “Sierra Vista” with the Symphony in April 15, 2005, with the audience at the Buena Performing Arts Center joining him on the chorus. The reprise was at the Veterans’ Memorial Park in Sierra Vista on Memorial Day weekend, 2006, for the big anniversary. That performance was also with the Sierra Vista Symhony.
This video clip shows some of the slides as Dolan sings the song and displays them.
Both wonderful, but very different arrangements.
Summer is Over: A song about the passing of seasons as another year goes by.
The Jeep CJs were one of Dolan’s “brands” for many years. He owned several of them, and always had them specially equipped for camping. He logged more than a million miles on them before he stopped counting.
This song was so popular, as a matter of fact, that Dolan named his club, the Tuba City Truck Stop and Country Club, after it, and many requests come from fans who patronized that club and really miss it.
Who’s Gonna Run the Truck Stop in Tuba City When I’m Gone: Please refer to this song’s short title, Tuba City Truck Stop.
It takes at least two clips of this song to begin to convey the emotion The first clip below is the first verse, and the conclusion is in the second clip.
Wind Bells, Wind Chimes: A beautifully romantic song about chimes, especially the ones crafted by architect Paolo Soleri.
Wintertime and Snowin’ : A dreamy song for a snowy winter’s day.
Zoom Va Va Voom: About a trip to a border town in Mexico, a bit too much to drink, and perhaps a bit too much fun.