Johnny Cash

Don't Take Your Guns to Town

Composed by Johnny Cash

Song Review by

One of the biggest hits of Johnny Cash’s career, “Don’t Take Your Guns To Town” is perhaps not one of the artist’s finest artistic accomplishments, but is it nevertheless easy to see why the song was so popular in it’s day, and it still stands up well to contemporary listeners. A song about a cowboy, the song explores the myth that is so much a part of country music, and by essentially telling Billy Joe’s story, Cash is adding to his own “outlaw” myth. The song has a nice moralist refrain of “Leave your guns at home, Bill/Don’t take your guns to town”, although lyrically it’s rooted in the late 1950s. Musically, the song is typically low key, but supremely effective.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
The Fabulous Johnny Cash 1958 Rumble Records
Billboard Top Country Hits: 1959 1959
Various Artists
Rhino
Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 1967 Columbia 3:01
No Image 1968 CSP Records
No Image 1972 CBS Records
No Image 1974 Columbia
20 Foot-Tappin' Greats 1978 Sony Music Distribution
No Image 1979 Columbia / Sony Music Entertainment / Sony/Columbia 3:04
No Image 197?
No Image 1981
Various Artists
CBS Records
No Image 1984 Continental
Columbia Records 1958-1986 1987 Columbia
No Image 1988 Masterpiece
Country U.S.A.: 1959 1989
Various Artists
Time/Life Music
I Walk the Line 1990 Payless 2:58
The Man in Black: 1954-1958 1990 Bear Family Records 2:46
Giant Hits [CBS] 1990 CBS Select
The Man in Black: 1959-1962 1991 Columbia / Sony Music 3:02
The Essential Johnny Cash 1955-1983 1992 Sony Music Distribution 3:01
The Sullivan Years: Country Classics 1993
Various Artists
TVT 2:23
The Man in Black: Definitive Collection 1994 Concept 3:20
Gunfighter Ballads 1995
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 3:04
No Image 1995
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution
Like Desperados 1998
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 3:01
16 Biggest Hits 1999 Legacy 3:04
Man in Black: His Greatest Hits 1999 Sony Music Distribution 3:03
Treasury of the West, Vol. 2 1999
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 3:03
Classic Country: Nashville Era, 1958-1963 1999
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 3:03
Murder 2000 BMG / Sony Music / Sony Music Entertainment
Simply the Best 2001 Sony Music Distribution
The Fabulous Johnny Cash/Songs of Our Soil 2001 Columbia 3:04
16 Biggest Hits, Vol. 2 2001 Columbia / Sony Music Distribution 3:05
Greatest Hits: Best of the Best Gold 2001 Columbia 3:05
Classic Country: Great Story Songs 2002
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 3:02
Wanted Man: The Very Best of Johnny Cash 2002 Sony Music Distribution 3:03
#1 Country Legendary Hits, Vol. 2 2002
Various Artists
Razor & Tie 3:04
The Essential Johnny Cash 2002 Columbia / Legacy 3:04
At Town Hall Party 1958-1959 2002 Bear Family Records
Johnny Cash Sings His Best [Double Disc] 2002 Teevee Records 3:03
Johnny Cash & Friends 2002 Spectrum Music
Giant Hits [Sony] 2002 Sony Music Distribution 3:04
Storyteller 2003 Not Now Music 3:00
Giant Hits [Collectables] 2003 Collectables 3:04
Man in Black: The Very Best of Johnny Cash 2003 Sony Music Distribution
The Original: Best of Johnny Cash 2003 Madacy Distribution / Madacy 3:05
All American Country 2003 Polygram / Karussell 2:56
Sings His Best 2004 Teevee Records 3:03
The Mercury Years 2004 Spectrum Music
Singing at His Best 2004 Passport Audio
Country Legends 2004 Green Hill Productions 3:03
Bigger Than Life Collection 2005 Madacy Distribution / Madacy 3:05
The Collection: The Fabulous Johnny Cash/Ragged Old Flag/At Folsom Prison 2005 Sony Music / Legacy 3:04
The Legendary 2005 Spectrum Music 2:56
The Legend [Columbia] 2005 Legacy / Columbia/Legacy 3:03
Platinum Collection 2005 Prime Sound 2:59
Classic Country: Cowboy Country 2006
Various Artists
Time/Life Music / TLS
Bits and Pieces about Johnny Cash 2006 Delta Distribution / LA. Li 2:58
Boom Chicka Boom/Classic Cash 2006 Mercury / Universal/Mercury 2:58
The Legend of Johnny Cash, Vol. 2 2006 Johnny Cash GH / Mdi 3:02
The Man in Black 2006 WHE 3:09
Don't Take Your Guns to Town 2007 Country Stars 3:02
Love, God, Murder, Life [4 CD] 2007 Columbia 3:04
Silver Collection 2007 Universal Distribution 2:58
The Line: Walking With a Legend 2008 Well Go USA
Original Album Classics 2008 Sony Music
The Golden Age of American Popular Music: The Country Hits 2008
Various Artists
Ace 3:03
Best of Johnny Cash: Green Series 2008 Strategic Marketing / Universal International 2:59
Super Hits, Vol. 2 2008 Sbme Special Mkts. 3:03
Wanted Man: The Johnny Cash Collection 2008 Camden International / sbc 3:03
Hit Collection 2008 Sony BMG 3:01
Johnny Cash's America 2008 Legacy / Columbia/Legacy 3:03
No Image 2008 Euro Trend / MCP
The Best of Johnny Cash [Entertain Me] 2008 Entertain Me 3:09
Gold: Greatest Hits 2008 Sony Music / Sony Music Distribution 3:01
The Legendary Performance 2008 Entertain Me 3:09
The Music of Johnny Cash 2009 Columbia / Legacy / Sony Music Distribution 3:04
I Walk the Line [Membran Music] 2009 Membran 3:06
Legends: Super Hits/Super Hits, Vol. 2 2010 Allegro Corporation / American Legends 3:03
The Troubadour 2011 Delta Music Group / Music Digital 3:04
A Stash of Ca$h 2011 Not Now Music / Not Now UK 3:00
100 Hits Legends: Johnny Cash 2011 100 Hits 3:04
Music to Die For: Death Discs 1914-1960 2011
Various Artists
Chrome Dreams 2:59
The Real...Johnny Cash: The Ultimate Johnny Cash Collection [3-CD] 2011 Sony Music 3:03
101 Country Hits [DLG Digital] 2011
Various Artists
DLG Digital 3:03
Absolutely Country 2011
Various Artists
Music Digital 3:03
Pure... 50s 2012
Various Artists
Sony Music 3:03
The  Roots of U2 2012
Various Artists
Complete Blues / Complete Roots / Snapper / Snapper UK 2:57
The Classics 2012 Sony Music 3:03
No Image 2012 Labelle 2:59
The  Greatest: The Number Ones 2012 Columbia / Legacy / Sony Legacy 3:03
The Rebel [Music Digital] 2013 Music Digital 3:03
The Box Set Series 2014 Columbia / Legacy 3:04
The Greatest Ever: Country 2014
Various Artists
Bellevue Publishing / Wienerworld 3:06
No Image 2014 Mercury Nashville 2:55
Out Among the Stars/The Classics 2014 Columbia / Sony Legacy 3:03
The  Complete Sun Releases and Columbia Singles: 1955-62 2015 Acrobat / Acrobat Music 3:03
1958: A Time To Remember The Classic Years
Various Artists
Tabak 3:04
50 Country Classics
Various Artists
K-Tel 3:05
Country Hits, Vol. 9 [Country Legacy Hits]
Various Artists
Country Legacy Hits 3:03
Country Number Ones of the 50s
Various Artists
Acrobat Music 3:02
No Image
Various Artists
K-Tel 3:05
No Image
Various Artists
K-Tel 3:05
No Image
Various Artists
10Ten Media / Zebralution 2:58
No Image Topaz Records 3:04
It's Country [Play 27-7]
Various Artists
Play 24-7 / Play 27-7 3:04
No Image K-Tel 2:58
Memphis, Vol. 3: Recordings from the Legendary Sun Studios
Various Artists
Documents
No Image Jasmine Records
The  Best of Johnny Cash [Sony] Sony Music Distribution
The  Greatest Country Hits of 1959
Various Artists
Acrobat / Acrobat Music 3:02
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