The Shifting, Whispering Sands, Part I Lyrics - Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash Johnny Cash Sings the Ballads of the True West cover art
Release information
Release Date: 1965
Genre: Rock Folk, World, & Country
Style: Country Rock/Acoustic
length: 2:54
producer: Don Law and Frank Jones
bass: Marshall Grant
drums (drum set): W.S. Holland
guitar: Bob Johnson and Johnny Cash
vocal: The Statler Brothers, Johnny Cash and The Carter Family
electric guitar: Luther Perkins
writer: Jack Gilbert, Mary Hadler
(Spoken by Johnny Cash)
I discovered the Valley of the Shifting, Whispering Sands
While prospecting in a western state
I saw the silent windmills, the crumbling water tanks
The bones of the cattle picked clean by buzzards
Bleached by the desert sun
I stumbled over a crumbling buck board
Nearly covered by the sand
And stopping to rest I heard a tinkling, whispering sound
And suddenly realized that even though the wind was quiet
The sand did not lie still
I seemed to be surrounded be a mystery
So heavy and apperceive I could scarcely breath
For weeks I wondered aimlessly in the valley
Seeking answers to the many questions that raced through my mind
Where was everyone? Why the white bones? The dry wells?
The barren valley where people must have lived and died
I sat down and buried my face in my hands
And resting I learned the secret of the Shifting, Whispering Sands
How I managed to escape from the valley I don't know
But now to pay my debt for being saved
I must tell you what I learned out on the desert
So many years ago

(Sung by the Carter Family)
When the day is oddly quiet
And the breeze seems not to blow
One would think the sun is resting
But you'll find this is not so

It is whispering softly whispering
As it slowly moves along
And for those who stop and listen
It will sing this mournful song

(Sung by an unknown male choir)
Of sidewinders and the horn toads
On the thorny *chaparral
In the sunny days and moonlight lights
The lonely coyotes yell

(Sung by Johnny Cash)
How the stars seem they can touch you
As you lay and gaze on high
At the heavens where your hoping
You'll be going when you die

*Here's a definition to help
you better understand the song,
according to the liner notes
a chaparral is "a thorny bush
native to the Southwest."
By the way, be sure to check
out Part 2 of
"The Shifting, Whispering Sands"
See ya,

  • 1 Hiawatha's Vision
  • 2 The Road to Kaintuck
  • 3 The Shifting, Whispering Sands, Part I
  • 4 The Ballad of Boot Hill
  • 5 I Ride an Old Paint
  • 6 Hardin Wouldn't Run
  • 7 Mister Garfield
  • 8 The Streets of Laredo
  • 9 Johnny Reb
  • 10 A Letter From Home
  • 11 Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie
  • 12 Mean as Hell
  • 13 Sam Hall
  • 14 25 Minutes to Go
  • 15 The Blizzard
  • 16 Sweet Betsy From Pike
  • 17 Green Grow the Lilacs
  • 18 Stampede
  • 19 The Shifting, Whispering Sands, Part II
  • 20 Reflections