BACK HOME ON THE RANGE lyrics by Stan Howe

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©2004, Jeri Dobrowski, jeridobrowski.com

BACK HOME ON THE RANGE
lyrics by Stan Howe

His saddle still hangs by the door in the bunkhouse,
It’s been there for eighty four years.
Mom called me in Denver and told me the sad news,
I thought I was too old for tears.

Born in Miles City back in 1890,
He’d have rolled up a hundred this spring.
Born when the land and the range was still open,
Who could have guessed what his century would bring?

Chorus

And another old cowboy is gone, gone, gone,
We laid him to rest yesterday,
With a hearse drawn by horses, a few friends and neighbors,
Another old cowboy’s Back Home on the Range.

He married great Grandma back in 1920,
They ranched up along the Big Dry,
That’s pretty tough country to raise a big family,
Somehow they managed to always get by.

But the years keep on passing, lives keep on changing,
The hard work laid Great Grandma down.
It’s been twenty years since he sold off the home place,
Bought a house in Miles City and moved in to town.

Chorus

In a little white church, way out on the prairie,
Where for nigh on a century he knelt to pray,
Where he married Great Grandma and Baptized their children,
I sang him the old songs he’s loved all his days.

I Come To the Garden Alone, When the dew is still on the Roses…

And…On a Hill Far Away, Stood and Old Rugged Cross…

And I’d Like to Be in Texas For the Roundup in the Spring…

Chorus

And another old cowboy is gone, gone, gone,
We laid him to rest yesterday,
With a hearse drawn by horses, what’s left of our family,
Another old cowboy’s Back Home on the Range

© 1989, Stan Howe, used with permission

 

Stan Howe, Montana renaissance man, is a popular singer, songwriter, musician, entertainer, storyteller, writer, auctioneer, photographer, Model T authority, and fiddle expert. He is also host and producer of Montana Public Radio’s “Folk Show.”

The recent passing of friends prompted him to share these lyrics. He said that his stepfather inspired him to write the song, but that it really isn’t a song about him, but rather, “…it is a song about all the old cowboys who end up alone at the end, wife and family gone, too damned old to work and not many others around who remember what they remember. A lot of them used to end up in the old hotels in Miles City or Billings, sitting in the lobby and visiting until it was time to go over and have a drink or something to eat, play cards for the afternoon and get another day of their life done. I used to go to the Lincoln Hotel in Billings and sit and visit with them. I also used to go to the Cowboy Bar lunches in Great Falls and visit with the old guys and go to the Range Riders Museum in Miles City once in a while. Now they all get shuffled off to assisted living or the rest home, the old hotels are gone and I am not as interested in the old guys as I’m now one of them.”

The song is recorded on his Bunkhouse and Honkytonk CD.

Listen to Stan Howe and his “Yellowstone” song in “What’s in a Song” from NPR and the Western Folklife Center.

In another video, he sings “Memories of You.”

This photograph is by photojournalist Jeri Dobrowski (and good friend of Stan Howe). She tells about it, “The vintage horse drawn hearse in this photo is a working funeral carriage owned by Stevenson & Sons Funeral Homes, Miles City, Montana. Pictured here in September 2004, it was leaving the Custer County Cemetery, Miles City, after transporting my grandmother, E. Lucille Varnado, for burial. Many of the old-time ranchers and cowboys from the area take their last ride behind the roan Clydesdales that the Stevensons use to pull the hearse.”

Stan told us that his stepfather was carried to the cemetery in this same hearse. He wrote, “I have always thought Stevenson’s did a great service to the old cowboys and farmers of eastern Montana by maintaining that hearse. For what they charge they surely can’t make what it costs to feed the horses and replace them, haul them and the hearse, etc. But it must give them great satisfaction to know how much it is appreciated by the people who make use of that service.”

See some of Jeri Dobrowski’s photography at jeridobrowski.com.