About The Song

Ol’ Red: A Look at Blake Shelton’s Signature Song

Blake Shelton’s “Ol’ Red” is a country song that transcends its chart performance to hold a special place in the hearts of both the artist and his fans. Released in 2001 on his self-titled debut album, the song may not have cracked the Top 10 on the U.S. country charts, but it has become one of Shelton’s most requested songs in concert and a signature tune that embodies his musical style and persona. This analysis will delve into the background of the song’s creation, its musical style, lyrical content, cultural impact, and lasting legacy.


The origins of “Ol’ Red” are shrouded in a bit of mystery. Shelton himself has acknowledged that the story behind the song is fictional, though some speculate it may have been inspired by a real-life prison bloodhound. Regardless of its inspiration, the song was written by Tracy Lawrence and Monty Russell. Lawrence, a fellow country artist, had already achieved chart success by the time “Ol’ Red” was penned. Russell was a songwriter known for crafting catchy country tunes, and their collaboration resulted in a song that resonated with Shelton.

Musical Style

“Ol’ Red” is a prime example of traditional country music. The song features a driving rhythm section with a prominent acoustic guitar and a steady drumbeat. Electric guitars are used sparingly, adding accents and fills rather than dominating the sound. A fiddle weaves in and out of the melody, providing a characteristic country twang. Shelton’s vocals are clear and direct, delivered with a relaxed swagger that perfectly complements the song’s storytelling. The overall sound is both familiar and energetic, creating a soundscape that feels instantly recognizable to fans of classic country music.

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The lyrics of “Ol’ Red” tell the story of a prison guard who forms an unlikely bond with a bloodhound named Ol’ Red. The guard takes Ol’ Red out for evening runs, and the dog becomes accustomed to seeing a woman every night. The guard deliberately keeps Ol’ Red away for a few days, and when they finally reunite, the dog’s howls of excitement are described as him “turning red out.” The song ends with the guard leaving for Tennessee, presumably after quitting his job or being released from prison.

While the lyrics are open to interpretation, there are underlying themes of companionship, loyalty, and the transformative power of connection. The prison setting adds a layer of intrigue and suggests a longing for freedom, both for the guard and the dog. The simple, direct language used throughout the song avoids melodrama, allowing the story to unfold organically and leaving space for listeners to connect with the characters and their bond.

Cultural Impact

“Ol’ Red” has had a significant impact on Blake Shelton’s career. While it wasn’t a major chart success initially, the song’s strong storytelling and catchy melody resonated with audiences. Fans began requesting it at concerts, and Shelton embraced it as a signature song. The song’s association with Shelton helped solidify his image as a down-to-earth country artist with a relatable persona. “Ol’ Red” also became a staple on country radio, further cementing Shelton’s place in the genre.

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Beyond Shelton’s career, “Ol’ Red” has entered the cultural lexicon of country music. The song’s title has become synonymous with bloodhounds, and its themes of companionship and loyalty resonate with fans. The song’s enduring popularity is a testament to its ability to connect with listeners on a personal level, offering a relatable story wrapped in a classic country soundscape.


“Ol’ Red” may not be Blake Shelton’s biggest chart hit, but it has become a cornerstone of his career and a beloved song among country music fans. The song’s traditional country sound, relatable lyrics, and strong storytelling create a timeless listening experience. “Ol’ Red” stands as a testament to the power of well-crafted songwriting and the enduring appeal of classic country music. While Shelton continues to release new music and explore different sounds, “Ol’ Red” remains a signature song, forever linked to his artistic identity and the hearts of his fans.



🎵 Let’s sing along with the lyrics! 🎤
Well, I caught my wife with another manAnd it cost me ninety-nineOn a prison farm in GeorgiaClose to the Florida lineWell, I’ve been here for two long yearsI finally made the warden my friendAnd so he sentenced me to a life of easeTakin’ care of Ol’ Red
Now, Ol’ Red, he’s the damnedest dogThat I’ve ever seenGot a nose that can smell a two day trailHe’s a four legged trackin’ machineYou can consider yourself mighty luckyTo get past the gators and the quicksand bedsBut all these years that I’ve been hereAin’t nobody got past Red
And the warden sangCome on somebody, why don’t you run?Ol’ Red’s itchin’ to have a little funGet my lantern, get my gunRed’ll have you treed ‘fore the mornin’ comes
Well, I paid off the guard and I slipped out a letterTo my cousin up in TennesseeOh, and he brought down a blue tick houndShe was pretty as she could beWell, they penned her up in the swampland‘Bout a mile just south of the gateAnd I’d take Ol’ Red for his evening runI’d just drop him off and wait
And the warden sangCome on somebody, why don’t you run?Ol’ Red’s itchin’ to have a little funGet my lantern, get my gunRed’ll have you treed ‘fore the mornin’ comes
Now, Ol’ Red got real used to seein’His lady every nightAnd so I kept him away for three or four daysAnd waited ’til the time got rightWell, I made my run with the evening sunAnd I smiled when I heard ’em turn Red out‘Cause I was headed north to TennesseeAnd Ol’ Red was headed south
And the warden sangCome on somebody, why don’t you run?Ol’ Red’s itchin’ to have a little funGet my lantern, get my gunRed’ll have you treed ‘fore the mornin’ comes
Now there’s red haired blue ticks all in the SouthLove got me in here and love got me out

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