by Don Edwards

See him out there a-rangin’ alone
A solitary rider from out of the past
Hidin’ and singin’ all by himself
Of the old singin’ cowboys, he may be the last.

With a war bag of songs and a wore-out guitar
He chases the sundown and sings to the stars
Listen to him singin’ his melancholy strain
This wanderin’ minstrel of the range.

No wanderer I’ve known could ever sing
A more welcome song to a trail weary herd
As he sang to the cattle on those dark lonely nights
His voice softly ringin’ like his jingle-bob spurs.

He’d rather be singin’ to the cattle at night
Feel the warmth of a campfire than cold city lights
And he don’t give a damn about fortune and fame
This ramblin’ minstrel of the range.

No troubles no worries just travelin’ on
Don’t care where he’s goin’ don’t care where he’s been
The rhythm of his song is the gait of his horse
And he tunes his guitar to the wind.

Soft falls the tune of the troubadour’s song
“I’m a poor lonesome cowboy, I know I’ve done wrong”
Singin’ ’bout cowboys, horses and trains
This wanderin’ minstrel of the range.

Now the range is a-changin’ into neon and noise
And folks have lost touch with the land
They may tap their feet to an old cowboy song
But mostly they won’t understand.

That sad, lonesome feelin’ when the last coyote cries
For the soul of the drifter with nowhere to ride
Soon only the night wind will sing his refrain
This vanishing minstrel of the range.

© 1987 Don Edwards, Night Horse Songs/BMI,used with permission

Great troubadour and music historian Don Edwards is an ambassador of cowboy music to the wide world. Known for his generosity as well as his humility, he has nurtured the talents of other deserving artists who carry on the traditions.

In Don Edwards’ Classic Cowboy Songs, he writes about his inspiration for “Minstrel of the Range”: “I wanted to write a song that paid tribute to Curley Fletcher and other cowboy minstrels of the early days. I didn’t have the foggiest idea how or what I was going to write with the title I had dreamed up, until one day I was reading some of William Wordsworth’s poetry and came across a poem called ‘The Solitary Reaper.’ As I read and reread this poem, words began coming to me as the ‘Solitary Reaper’ became a ‘Solitary Cowboy.’ Where the tune came from, I don’t know…”

Listen to Don Edwards sing “Minstrel of the Range” on YouTube.

The Classic Cowboy Songs book includes the melody line and guitar chords. You can also find Wordsworth’s poem in our feature about Don Edwards.

A film about Don Edwards’ work and life, The Last Coyote, was recently released. Find more about it on Facebook and at coyotedon.com/home.

Find more about Don Edwards on Facebook; on his web site; donedwardsmusic.com; and also see more at Western Jubilee Recording.

Don Edwards joins Dave Stamey and Trinity Seely as headliners at the 30th annual Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering, taking place in Prescott, August 10-12, 2017. The favorite event of many, other performers include Gary Allegretto, Charlotte Allgood-McCoy, Sally Bates, Floyd Beard, Valerie Beard, Curt Brummet, Dale Burson, Dani Sue Carter, Dean Cook, Mikki Daniel, Kevin Davis, Marina Davis, Daisy Dillard, Jody Drake, Jim Dunham, Mike Dunn, Avery Ervien, Slim Farnsworth, Don Fernwalt, Ray Fitzgerald, Rolf Flake, Oscar Gray, Amy Hale Auker, Audrey Hankins (Balow), Larry Harmer, Paul Hatch, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Randy Huston, Chris Isaacs, Sue Jones, Suzi Killman, Gary Kirkman, Ross Knox, Steve Lindsey, Mary Matli, Monk Maxwell, Wanda Macwell, Dave McCall, Deanna Dickinson McCall, Slim McWilliams, Janet Moore, Nika Nordbrock, Donn Pease, Vess Quinlan, Gary Robertson, Frank Rodrigues, Buck Ryberg, Tom Sharpe, Jay Snider, Gail Starr, Gail Steiger, Duane Steinbrink, Rocky Sullivan, Duke Vance, Tom Weathers, Ashley Westcott, Bob Wood, Byrd Woodward, Rusty Pistols Cowboy Band, Arizona Old Time Fiddlers, and Broken Chair Band.

This year’s poster features a painting by George Molnar, “Long Way Home.” George Molnar’s art was featured on the 20th anniversary poster as well. Find more about him and his work at georgemolnar.com.

Find more about the 30th annual Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering on Facebook and at azcowboypoets.org.