Sky Ball Paint
& The Devil's Great Grandson
The lyrics to Sky Ball Paint are from "The Sons of the Pioneers Song Folio No. 1", Copyright 1936 by AMERICAN MUSIC, INC.
The lyrics to The Devil's Great Grandson are from "Bob Nolan’s Folio of Original Cowboy Classics No. 1", ©1939 by AMERICAN MUSIC
TRANSCRIPTIONS with these songs
Karl E. Farr Collection
Sky Ball Paint, one of the most popular of Bob Nolan's songs, was based on a horse he used or owned at the time he wrote it, at some time before 1935. When Douglas B. (Ranger Doug) Green asked him the source of his inspiration, Bob replied, “That more or less came from Stuart Hamblen. He had a song called Ride an Old Paint and Lead an Old Dan and I just took the name Sky Ball Paint from that word. That was my horse, so that’s why I wrote it. But there was no inspiration. It was all fantasizing, which most of my stuff is.”
It is possible that Bob created the name “Sky Ball” by combining the two words, “skewbald” which meant “having large patches of white and brown or any other color except black” and “piebald” meaning “covered with patches or spots of two colors”.
In ten of the Starrett films we have viewed, Bob chose a paint horse, one of them the distinctively marked animal (above) that he shared with Don Grayson and Iris Meredith.
By 1935, the Sons of the Pioneers were appearing as entertainers at rodeos and the sights and sounds had become familiar. When Bob wrote about a bucking horse he knew what he was talking about. This song was one of Roy Rogers' personal favorites and he opened many a rodeo performance with it for the rest of his life, adding his exuberantly wild yodel as an alternate chorus.
Sky Ball Paint:
The American Cowboys, 1986 (Robert Wagoner, Dick Goodman & Rusty Richards)
The Devil's Great Grandson:
Sky Ball Paint and The Devil's Great Grandson appear in sheet music and on recordings as two individual songs although the melody is the same. The major difference is the chorus although, when the Sons of the Pioneers sang the song, they would borrow verses freely from its alternate. Why Bob thought he had to re-work Sky Ball Paint in 1938 and call it The Devil's Great Grandson for the Columbia picture, "Cattle Raiders", is unknown. Perhaps Lawrence Hopper has the answer when he reflects, "The double need for material to fill a December 14th recording session and also have songs ready for pre-production work on an up-coming Starrett film forced Bob to ‘dust off’ Sky Ball and rework it. With both the recording session at ARC and the pre-recording at Columbia, Bob moved some of the parts around, opened with the same verse and wrote enough new material to qualify the song for a separate copyright."
Sky Ball Paint was registered for copyright on March 16, 1936 and published in "Sons of the Pioneers Song Folio No. 1" by CROSS & WINGE INC, 1936.
The Devil's Great Grandson was registered for copyright on February 16, 1938 and published in "Bob Nolan's Folio of Original Cowboy Classics No. 1" by AMERICAN MUSIC INC, 1939.
Lyric card from the repertoire box
Standard Radio transcription #2543, 1935 04
Orthacoustic "Symphonies of the Sage Devil's Great Grandson (064442)
Teleways Transcriptions: (Devil's Great Grandson) #46-90-165
(Sky Ball Paint) #21
Sky Ball Paint
7 December 1951. Transcription Disc TR-135, 136
Smokey the Bear (Sky Ball Paint) 1956: Show #1