The ‘Yellowstone’ Effect: An Outsider-Approved Playlist that Captures the Grandeur of the Dutton Ranch

by Lauren Boisvert

“Yellowstone” is the biggest show on television right now, with a grip on America that rivals anything I’ve ever seen. The word Yellowstone is on everyone’s lips since season 4 ended in January. We’re gearing up for season 5, featuring drama and excitement we haven’t even been able to fathom yet. So, it’s only right that I dig into my roots of making playlists for TV shows (looking at you, “Teen Wolf”) and put together a thoroughly listenable playlist for “Yellowstone” to get us ready for the next season.

“The ‘Yellowstone’ Effect” features songs from familiar favorites like Colter Wall, Brandi Carlile, and Led Zeppelin. But, there are also some outliers that you wouldn’t think would pair with “Yellowstone.” But, in this playlist’s case, it’s all about the lyrics, not just the sound and style of music. So sit back with a drink, turn your volume up, close your eyes, and just let yourself drift away to the Dutton ranch.

Songs That Capture the Grandeur of the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch

  • Ecstasy of Gold – Ennio Morricone

This song, from “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” has always instilled a sort of grand feeling in me. It gave me goosebumps the first few times I heard it. In terms of “Yellowstone,” it reminds me of the land, the rich gold tones of the opening sequence. It’s a song for wealth, for strength. The Duttons have that in spades. There’s a reason this song was also used in the bullfighting scene in the movie “The Book of Life.” It’s an incredible piece of music that evokes courage, determination, competition. All words I’d associate with the Duttons.

Some others that evoke this sort of feeling are Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On,” Johnny Bond’s “Stars of the Midnight Range,” and Brandi Carlile’s “Broken Horses.” Zeppelin makes me think of sweeping over the Dutton land in the helicopter, surveying the kingdom. “Stars of the Midnight Range” is an old-school track that makes me think of the bunkhouse boys herding the cattle. I imagine them camping out in one of the pastures, gazing up at the twinkling stars and sitting in companionable silence. In contrast, “Broken Horses” is a powerful song musically that lends itself to riding a horse fast over the plains. Imagine the wind in your hair, gripping the reins, driving that horse into the horizon.

Going to the Train Station

  • You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive – Patty Loveless

There’s a lot of death on “Yellowstone,” and a lot of it has to do with liabilities being taken to the train station. Now, when Rip says he’s going to “take you to the train station,” he doesn’t mean he’s going to carry your bags to the platform and wave at you until the train disappears. Quite the opposite. And while this song is about coal mining in Eastern Kentucky, it still has an ominous air about it that lends itself to the vibe of going to the train station. Because, essentially, you’ll never leave the Yellowstone alive. Once you’re there, you’re there for good.

Other songs that share this vibe are “Rattlin’ Bones” by Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson, “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” from Johnny Cash, and “O Death” by Rhiannon Giddens. “Rattlin’ Bones” is more of that desperate living sort of feeling. You work until they put you in the ground. Again, once you’re on the ranch, it’s almost impossible to leave.

In comparison, “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” and “O Death” are more of the going to the train station fare. The Johnny Cash track makes me think of Rip’s long shadow. If you set a toe out of line and threaten the ranch, Rip is going to cut you down. “O Death,” again, reminds me of Rip’s role on the ranch. Essentially, he’s Death. He hands out death like Halloween candy. I wouldn’t say he enjoys it, but he’ll do what’s asked of him. “O Death” calls to mind someone begging Rip to spare them.

The Duttons Go to War

  • Keep Your Rifle By Your Side – The Hope County Choir

“Keep Your Rifle By Your Side” captures the fact that the Duttons are always ready to fight for their land and family. The line “we won’t fall as long as we can fight” encapsulates the Duttons’ philosophy. John Dutton says in the premiere episode, “Leverage is knowing that if someone had all the money in the world this is what they’d buy.” I think that perfectly melds with “Keep Your Rifle By Your Side” to create a particular medley that shows how serious the Duttons are about their land.

I also added “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes, “Only Us” by Miracle of Sound, and “Knights of Cydonia” by Muse. “Seven Nation Army” is the Duttons gathering their troops. I’m reminded of the season one premiere and the culmination of the cattle theft between the Duttons and Broken Rock. “I’m gonna fight ’em off / a seven nation army couldn’t hold me back.” Therein lies John Dutton’s uncontrollable nature when provoked, which is exactly what Thomas Rainwater exploited.

“Only Us” reminds me of the Duttons’ singular existence. “Let the world shatter / into dust / nothing else matters / only us.” They’re so isolated on their ranch that little matters but their family. “Knights of Cydonia” has the great line “No one’s gonna take me alive / Time has come to make things right.” The Dutton family has that kind of mindset. They are so ready to fight off any incoming force that they’re constantly prepared to go to war for their land.

Myths and Lore of ‘Yellowstone’

  • We All Lift Together – Freya Catherine, Jack Victor

Lastly, “Yellowstone” is rife with myths and lore; it is full of tradition and rich history. “We All Lift Together” is a labor hymn originally written for the video game “Warframe.” But, here I believe it captures the heart of “Yellowstone.” It flows through working the land for generations, uniting in the labor. The Duttons arrived in Montana and built their homestead together, and they’ve been together ever since. “And we all lift, and we’re all adrift together, together / Through the cold mist, ’till we’re lifeless together, together.” As long as the Duttons are together they can weather any storm.

Additionally, I added “Bottom of the River” by Delta Rae, “The Devil Wears a Suit and Tie” by Colter Wall, and “Me and the Devil” by Soap&Skin. “Bottom of the River” makes me think of every time something goes wrong for the Duttons, especially Lee’s death. It could also be relevant to the latest season, and the “end of us” that Kayce saw in his vision quest. There’s a lot to unpack, but this song successfully covers it all. “The Devil Wears a Suit and Tie” reminds me of the corporate bloodsuckers always trying to sink their teeth into Dutton land. On the other hand, “Me and the Devil” reminds me of the times where the Duttons have to butter up those corporate elitists. Occasionally, they have to cross over to the other side.