Johnny Cash

Don't Take Your Guns to Town

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
With His Hot and Blue Guitar 1957 Org Music 0:00
The Fabulous Johnny Cash 1958 Legacy / Columbia 3:04
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 Harmony
No Image 1972 CBS Records
No Image 1974 CBS Records
No Image 1974 Columbia
20 Foot-Tappin' Greats 1978 Sony Music Distribution
No Image 1979 Columbia / Sony Music Entertainment 3:04
No Image 197?
No Image 1981
Various Artists
CBS Records
Columbia Records 1958-1986 1987 Columbia 3:01
Classic Cash: Hall of Fame Series 1988 Def Jam / Island / Mercury 2:58
No Image 1988 Masterpiece
Country U.S.A.: 1959 1989
Various Artists
Time / Life Music
The Man in Black: 1954-1958 1990 Bear Family Records 3:31
Columbia Country Classics, Vol. 3: Americana 1990
Various Artists
Columbia 3:02
Hello, I'm Johnny Cash [Sony Special Products] 1992 Sony Music Distribution 3:04
The Essential Johnny Cash 1955-1983 1992 Sony Music Distribution 3:01
Hits [1993] 1993 Sony Music Distribution 3:03
The Sullivan Years: Country Classics 1993
Various Artists
TVT 2:23
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 / Sony Music Distribution 3:02
No Image 1999 Columbia / Legacy 3:02
Treasury of the West, Vol. 2 1999
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 3:03
No Image 1999
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 3:03
No Image 2000 Columbia / Sony Music Distribution 3:02
Love, God, Murder [3 CD] 2000 Columbia / Legacy 3:05
No Image 2000 Columbia / Legacy 3:04
Simply the Best 2001 Columbia 3:01
The Fabulous Johnny Cash/Songs of Our Soil 2001 Columbia 3:04
16 Biggest Hits, Vol. 2 2001 Columbia / Sony Music Distribution 3:05
Classic Country: Great Story Songs 2002
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 3:02
Wanted Man: The Very Best of Johnny Cash 2002 Mercury 0:00
#1 Country Legendary Hits, Vol. 2 2002
Various Artists
Razor & Tie 3:04
The Essential Johnny Cash 2002 Legacy / Columbia 3:02
Johnny Cash Sings His Best [Double Disc] 2002 Teevee Records 3:03
Johnny Cash & Friends 2002 Spectrum Music 0:00
Giant Hits [Sony] 2002 Sony Music Distribution 3:04
Giant Hits [Collectables] 2003 Collectables 3:04
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 3:01
The Mercury Years 2004 Spectrum Music 2:57
Bigger Than Life Collection 2005 Madacy Distribution / Madacy 3:05
The Collection: The Fabulous Johnny Cash/Ragged Old Flag/At Folsom Prison 2005 Legacy / Sony Music Distribution 3:04
The Legendary 2005 Spectrum Music 2:56
The Legend [Columbia] 2005 Legacy / Columbia 3:03
Classic Country: Cowboy Country 2006
Various Artists
Time / Life Music / TLS 0:00
The Legend of Johnny Cash, Vol. 2 2006 Island / Johnny Cash GH / Mdi 3:04
Love, God, Murder, Life [4 CD] 2007 Columbia
Silver Collection 2007 Universal Distribution 2:58
Best of Johnny Cash: Green Series 2008 Universal International 2:58
Johnny Cash's America 2008 Legacy / Columbia 3:03
The Music of Johnny Cash 2009 Columbia / Legacy / Sony Music Distribution 3:04
Men of Country: Triple Feature 2009 Sony BMG 3:04
Best of Johnny Cash, Vol. 2: Superstar Series 2009 Strategic Marketing 3:01
I Walk the Line [Membran Music] 2009 Membran 3:06
Dim Lights, Thick Smoke and Hillbilly Music: 1959 2010
Various Artists
Bear Family Records 0:00
The Troubadour 2011 Delta Music Group / Music Digital 3:04
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
No Image 2011 Mercury 2:55
The Real...Johnny Cash: The Ultimate Johnny Cash Collection [1-CD] 2011 Sony Music / Sony Music Distribution 3:03
The Real...Johnny Cash: The Ultimate Johnny Cash Collection [3-CD] 2011 Sony Music 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
The Greatest: The Number Ones 2012 Columbia / Legacy / Sony Legacy 3:03
Every Song Tells a Story 2013 Sony Music 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
The Man in Black [Kingsland] 2015 Kingsland Records 3:08
Country Number Ones of the 50s
Various Artists
Acrobat Music 3:02
It's Country [Play 27-7]
Various Artists
Play 24-7 / Play 27-7 3:04
The Best of Johnny Cash [Sony] Sony Music Distribution
The Greatest Country Hits of 1959
Various Artists
Acrobat Music 3:02
The US Hot 100, 3rd Feb. 1959: The Day the Music Died
Various Artists
Acrobat Music 3:02