Music: Roweling Hard

A month ago, 34-year-old Stanley Davis Jones was just another leathery-necked U.S. forest ranger, living quietly with his schoolteacher wife ("Most rangers marry schoolteachers, doggoned if I know why") on the edge of California's Death Valley. Last week, Stan Jones was cruising around Hollywood in a 1949 car, with reporters and photographers on his tail. Overnight, a little tune that he had cooked up around the campfire, called Riders in the Sky, had put him in the spotlight.

It all started when Cinemactor Randolph Scott and a movie troupe went to Death Valley last fall to shoot scenes for The Walking Hills,...

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