Brigid and Johnny “Guitar” Reedy photo © 2019, John Reedy
THE TEXAS COWBOY
O, I’m a Texas cowboy
and far away from home,
If I get back to Texas,
I never more will roam.
Montana is too cold for me
and the winters are too long
Before the roundups do begin,
your money is all gone.
To win these fancy leggins,
you’ll have enough to do
They cost me twenty dollars
the day that they were new;
And this old hen-skin bedding
is too thin to keep me warm
I nearly freeze to death, boys,
whenever there’s a storm.
I’ve worked down in Nebraska
where the grass grows ten feet high,
Where the cattle are such rustlers,
they hardly ever die;
I’ve worked up in the Sand Hills
and down along the Platte
Where the punchers are good fellows
and the cattle always fat.
I’ve traveled lots of country,
from Nebraska’s hills of sand
Down through the Indian Nation
and up the Rio Grande
But the badlands of Montana
are the worst I’ve ever seen
The cowboys are all tenderfeet
and the dogies are too lean.
They wake you in the morning
before the break of day
And send you on a circle
a hundred miles away,
Your grub is bread and bacon
and coffee black as ink
And water so full of alkali
it’s hardly fit to drink.
If you want to see some badlands,
go over to the Dry
You’ll bog down in the coulees
where the mountains meet the sky.
With a tenderfoot to guide you,
who never knows the way
You are playing in the best of luck
if you eat three times a day.
Up along the Yellowstone,
it’s cold the whole year round,
And you’ll surely get consumption
if you sleep upon the ground;
Your pay is almost nothing
for six months in the year
And when your debts are settled,
there’s nothing left for beer.
Now all you Texas cowboys,
this warning take from me,
Don’t come up to Montana
to spend your money free.
But stay at home in Texas
where there’s work the whole year round
And you’ll never get consumption
from sleeping on the ground.
Jim Bob Tinsley, in his 1981 book, He Was Singin’ This Song, notes that this piece appeared as a poem in March, 1888, in the Glendive Independent, a Montana newspaper. He also adds, “A lot of Texas cowboys stayed in Montana after they got off the trail. Not all of them disliked the northern range. Many found it appealing, settled down, and called it home.”
Many have performed this classic, but perhaps few as colorfully as Montanans Brigid and Johnny “Guitar” Reedy on their new Next Go ‘Round CD.
The two Reedys have been lighting up stages across the West, from the Lone Star Cowboy Poetry Gathering to the Western Folklife Center’s National Cowboy Poetry Gathering to the Lost ‘n Lava Cowboy Gathering, the Texas Hill Country Cowboy Gathering, and beyond. Find them later this year at the Cowpoke Fall Gathering.
Gifted musician, poet, and artist, 19-year old Brigid Reedy and her equally talented brother, Johnny “Guitar” Reedy—14 on the outside and a cool 40 on the inside—have been performing for most of their lives.
The accomplished duo’s new Next Go ‘Round is brimming with Western tunes, swing classics, folk and traditional music, blues, jazz, original pieces, and more, all delivered with the highest level of professionalism.
Deeply rooted in traditional music and standards, they combine dazzling technique and unmatchable sibling harmony with exuberance, throughout. Joy fuels their performances.
The carefully selected classic and traditional tunes range from the obscure to the better known. They also offer their own inventive tunes, with pizzazz.
Western pieces “Drifting Texas Sands” and “Texas Cowboy” are solid anchors. They introduce the latter as “One for our old buddy Glenn Ohrlin,” the beloved late folk musician and music historian who was a great friend and admirer. He’s just one of many Western greats who have praised this duo.
Their original compositions stand out and stand up to the classics. “Little Too Long in the Bunkhouse” shows off dizzying craft along with inventive scat singing. Their versatility shines in a dreamy instrumental “Palio Waltz.”
Brigid’s solo creations include the winning, “Ask Him to Dance,” “Sleep Though the Sun is Shining,” “I Love Going Nowhere with You,” and the short, dramatic, “Moth Hunter.”
There’s lots of fun here. “I Heard,” Don Redman’s song that was featured in a 1930’s film starring Betty Boop, is a delight. Also from the period is Irving Berlin’s eccentric “My Walking Stick,” from the movie Alexander’s Ragtime Band, delivered with impeccable style. Their rendition of “The Devil Ain’t Lazy” surely has Bob Wills smiling down on them.
Traditional songs range from a convincing “Mean Old Bed Bug Blues” to an appealing “Pretty Fair Maid in the Garden” ballad and much in between.
Considerable thought, research, and skill built this project. The delightful package is as charming as the music, filled with art and commentary by Brigid Reedy. The rest of the family had important roles, including production and art direction by their father John Reedy and graphic design by their mother, artist Heather Kahrl Reedy. Next Go ‘Round was recorded at The Round Barn near Twin Bridges, Montana, a venue on the National Register of Historic Places.
It’s pure entertainment. Treat yourself. Find it at brigidreedy.com.
A recent cover story in Alta magazine’s Winter 2020 issue, “Songs of the New West,” by Meredith Lawrence, profiles Brigid Reedy and she comments on her work with her brother. Andy Hedges, Amy Hale Steiger, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, and Dom Flemons are also featured.
Thanks to John Reedy (reedy.photoshelter.com, well worth viewing) for this photograph of Brigid and Johnny.
Find more at brigidreedy.com.
Request permission to share this post; the song is in the public domain.