Sep 06

LEE MARVIN – “Wand’rin Star”

FT + Popular35 comments • 5,790 views

#282, 7th March 1970


LEE MARVIN – “Wand’rin Star”Nelson Riddle’s arrangement for “Wand’rin Star” harks back a good twenty or thirty years, to the days of the singing cowboys and particularly acts like Sons Of The Pioneers, whose massed male backing voices this song reminds me of. “Wand’rin Star” has something of the gentle mystery of the Sons’ “Tumblin’ Tumbleweeds” or “Ghost Riders In The Sky”, with Marvin’s puzzled deep voice turning the track into a kind of cowboy lullaby. Marvin is a technically awful singer but this is an effective way for Riddle to use him, at least until the last verse when he sounds like he’s straining too hard for the tune. The singles chart at this point was clearly still wide open, deserted by emergent ‘album acts’ and without much grip on a younger teen audience, and this is yet another oddity at number one. But a very charming oddity, nonetheless.



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  1. 26
    SteveIson on 20 Jul 2008 #

    Such an atmospheric,strange song..My god,country records were actually good in those days 7

  2. 27
    Waldo on 24 Oct 2009 #

    Anyone listening to this for the first time would be forgiven for losing patience with it, convinced that it was an instrumental, as it takes an absolute age for Lee to start growling his way into this dirge in a voice so low it made Paul Robeson sound like Alan Ball on helium. The interjecting harmonica is just plain irritating as are the sooo manly backing singers. Basically, I thought this was a stinker and I don’t mind saying so. The only thing in its favour is that it was taken up by the intelligensia at Stamford Bridge, who sung:

    “I was born under a Chelsea shed,
    I was bor-orn under a Chelsea shed,
    Knives were made for cutting,
    Guns were made to shoot,
    If you go down to the Chelsea shed
    We’ll all put in the boot…”

    Well, it’s fucking better than anything Andrew Motion ever came up with!

  3. 28
    Jungman Jansson on 24 Oct 2009 #

    Just thought I’d mention that The KLF name check this on “Build a Fire” (album track from The White Room).

    I quite like this song. But I have a soft spot for cowboy kitsch. It would be a lot less interesting without Marvin’s abyssal voice.

  4. 29
    thefatgit on 28 Jan 2010 #

    I used to be able to burp-sing this when I was 9 years old!

  5. 30
    crag on 14 Apr 2011 #


    Graham Hill, Racing driver(1974)

    Jackie Charlton, football manager(1996).

  6. 32
    Lena on 2 Apr 2012 #

    Words of wisdom: http://musicsoundsbetterwithtwo.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/rock-of-ages-beatles-let-it-be.html Thanks for reading and commenting, everyone!

  7. 33
    Larry on 27 Oct 2014 #

    No one has mentioned some wonderful lyrics:
    Do I know where hell is?
    Hell is in hello
    Heaven is “goodbye forever”
    “It’s time for me to go”

    not to mention “mules are made to pack”

  8. 34
    Mark G on 28 Oct 2014 #

    “I never saw a sight that didn’t look better looking back … ”

    All together now!

  9. 35
    lonepilgrim on 7 Oct 2017 #

    like thefatgit @29 I too used to amuse friends and family with my growly take on this as a 9 year old. Now I like it for the arrangement and the confidence of the vocal that puts me in mind of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Tower of Song’.

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