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Don't Fence Me In (song)

"Don't Fence Me In" is a popular American song written in 1934, with music by Cole Porter and lyrics by Robert Fletcher and Cole Porter. Members of the Western Writers of America chose it as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time.[1]

"Don't Fence Me In"
Composer(s)Cole Porter
Lyricist(s)Robert Fletcher, Cole Porter



Originally written in 1934 for Adios, Argentina, an unproduced 20th Century Fox film musical, "Don't Fence Me In" was based on text by Robert (Bob) Fletcher, a poet and engineer with the Department of Highways in Helena, Montana. Cole Porter, who had been asked to write a cowboy song for the 20th Century Fox musical, bought the poem from Fletcher for $250. Porter reworked Fletcher's poem, and when the song was first published, Porter was credited with sole authorship. Porter had wanted to give Fletcher co-authorship credit, but his publishers did not allow it. After the song became popular, however, Fletcher hired attorneys who negotiated his co-authorship credit in subsequent publications. Although it was one of the most popular songs of its time, Porter claimed it was his least favorite of his compositions.[2]

Porter’s revision of the song retained quite a few portions of Fletcher’s lyrics, such as “Give me land, lots of land”, “... breeze ... cottonwood trees”, “turn me loose, let me straddle my old saddle,” “mountains rise ... western skies”, “cayuse”, “where the west commences,” and “... hobbles ... can’t stand fences,”[3][4][5] but in some places modified them to give them “the smart Porter touch”.[6][7] Porter replaced some lines, rearranged lyric phrases, and added two verses. (Porter's exact verse about Wildcat Kelly was not included in any of the hit recordings of the song but was used in the Roy Rogers film of the same title. Roy Rogers did refer to "Wildcat Willy" when he performed it in 1944's Hollywood Canteen, and the opening verse about Wildcat Kelly is included in the Ella Fitzgerald and Harry Connick, Jr. versions of the song).[3][8]

Roy Rogers and "Don't Fence Me In"Edit

Roy Rogers sang it in the 1944 Warner Bros. movie Hollywood Canteen. Many people heard the song for the first time when Kate Smith introduced it on her radio broadcast of October 8, 1944.

In 1945, the song was sung again as the title tune of another Roy Rogers film, Don't Fence Me In (1945), in which Dale Evans plays a magazine reporter who comes to Roy Rogers' and Gabby Whittaker's (George "Gabby" Hayes) ranch to research her story about a legendary late gunslinger. When it's revealed that Whittaker is actually the supposedly dead outlaw, Rogers must clear his name. Rogers and The Sons of the Pioneers perform songs, including the Cole Porter title tune.

The next year (1946), the Cole Porter biopic Night and Day used a clip from Hollywood Canteen of Rogers singing "Don't Fence Me In."

Bing Crosby versionEdit

Bing Crosby and The Andrews Sisters with Vic Schoen and his Orchestra recorded it in 1944, without having seen or heard the song.[9] Crosby entered the studio on July 25, 1944,.[10] Within 30 minutes, he and the Andrews Sisters had completed the recording, which sold more than a million copies and topped the Billboard charts for eight weeks in 1944–45

Other versionsEdit

Pop cultureEdit

  • 2013 – Pablo Bubar [17] reintroduced the song in one of the musical romance sketches of "Pablo the Romantic" from "Boom Town", broadcast by BBC Three (UK, 2013). This version includes the piano music of Ross Leadbeater.[18]
  • 2015 – The song was featured in the ending of the Pretty Little Liars Season 5 episode "Welcome to the Dollhouse."
  • 2016 – A cover with a version of the song by Pull was used in the Discover It Miles card commercial.[19]
  • 2016 – The song was featured in a commercial for Nevada tourism.
  • 2018 - The Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters version is played on the Appalachian Radio Station in Fallout 76
  • Black Iris covered the song in a popular Nokia commercial for the Nokia C7. Despite public response, the song was never released as a full-track mp3.
  • The first verse of the song was sung by Apu in The Simpsons episode "The Lastest Gun in the West".

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Western Writers of America (2010). "The Top 100 Western Songs". American Cowboy. Archived from the original on 10 August 2014.
  2. ^ "Don't Fence Me In". Retrieved 2013-07-04.
  3. ^ a b "Origins: Don't Fence Me In (Cole Porter)". Retrieved 2013-07-04.
  4. ^ The Complete Lyrics of Cole Porter. Knopf. 1983. OCLC 756427724. Retrieved 2013-07-04.
  5. ^ The Complete Lyrics of Cole Porter. Knopf. 1983. OCLC 756427724. Retrieved 2013-07-04.
  6. ^ "DER SPIEGEL 4/1962 - Don't fence me in". 1962-01-24. Retrieved 2013-07-04.
  7. ^ LIFE - Google Books. 1972-02-25. Retrieved 2013-07-04.
  8. ^ America's Songs: The Stories Behind The Songs Of Broadway, Hollywood, And ... - Philip Furia, Michael L. Lasser - Google Boeken. Retrieved 2013-07-04.
  9. ^ Gilliland, John (1994). Pop Chronicles the 40s: The Lively Story of Pop Music in the 40s (audiobook). ISBN 978-1-55935-147-8. OCLC 31611854. Tape 1, side B.
  10. ^ "A Bing Crosby Discography". BING magazine. International Club Crosby. Retrieved June 20, 2017.
  11. ^ "David Byrne's Journal:". Retrieved 2013-07-04.
  12. ^ earthstonestation (19 August 2012). "Don't Fence Me In".
  13. ^ Song of the Salesmen
  14. ^ Sharon Maguire at IMDB
  15. ^ UK TV Ads
  16. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-07-30.
  17. ^ "Pablo Bubar".
  18. ^ "Ross Leadbeater - The Official Ross Leadbeater website".
  19. ^ "Discover it Miles Card TV Commercial, 'Travel Posters'".