THE COWBOY’S RETURN (MAKE ME A COWBOY AGAIN FOR A DAY) authorship uncertain

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THE COWBOY’S RETURN (MAKE ME A COWBOY AGAIN FOR A DAY)
authorship uncertain

Backward, turn backward, oh, Time with your wheels,
Aeroplanes, wagons and automobiles
Dress me once more in sombrero that flaps,
Spurs, and a flannel shirt, slicker and chaps
Put a six-shooter or two in my hand.
Show me a yearling to rope and to brand
Out where the sage brush is dusty and gray,
Make me a cowboy again for a day.

Give me a broncho that knows how to dance,
Buckskin of color and wicked of glance,
New to the feeling of bridles and bits
Give me a quirt that will sting where it hits,
Strap on the poncho behind in a roll,
Pass me the lariat, dear to my soul,
Over the trail let me gallop away.
Make me a cowboy again for a day.

Thunder of hoofs on the range as you ride
Hissing of iron and the smoking of hide,
Bellow of cattle, and snort of cayuse
Shorthorns from Texas as wild as the deuce;
Midnight stampede, and the milling of herds
Yells of the cowmen too angry for words
Right in the thick of it all I would stay.
Make me a cowboy again for a day.

Under the star-studded canopy vast
Campfire and coffee and comfort at last.
(Bacon that sizzles and crisps in the pan
After the roundup smells good to a man.)
Stories of ranchers and rustlers retold
Over the pipes as the embers grow cold—
These are the tunes that old memories play,
Make me a cowboy again for a day.

…as in Leslie’s Weekly, 1910

Our great American troubadour Don Edwards includes “Make Me a Cowboy Again for a Day” in his Saddle Songs—A Cowboy Songbag, an invaluable reference book. See his version at CowboyPoetry.com.

The poem is not recited much and the song is not heard or recorded frequently these days. In Saddle Songs, Don Edwards writes, “I always used to love to hear my friend Dick Farnsworth sing this old song…Dick sang it to the tune of ‘One Morning in May.’ It is also interchangeable with ‘Wild Rippling Water.’ Dick was a real good and cherished friend and I miss him a lot. Kind of like these old songs if folks quit singin’ ’em…they’ll be gone someday and won’t be comin’ back.” The same page in the book includes a quote from Richard Farnsworth, “I sing a little better than a crow but not as good as a canary.”

Don Edwards sings “Make Me a Cowboy Again for a Day” on his Wrangler Award-winning album, Saddle Songs II Last of the Troubadours.” You can hear it on YouTube.

“Make Me a Cowboy Again for a Day” is included in Songs Texas Sings (1936), a small songbook created for the Texas centennial for schools, which has an introduction by John Lomax. No author is given.

In a search for the earliest printing of the poem or song, we found the above version in Leslie’s Weekly, the October 6, 1910 edition. The author was given as “Rorodore Theovelt,” which looks like an awkward re-arrangement of Theodore Roosevelt. Earlier in 1910, Roosevelt’s secretary, William Loeb, Jr. became a member of Leslie’s board. Perhaps it was meant as a spoof.

Glenn Ohrlin notes that George B. German, in the 1932 Cowboy Campfire Ballads credits the song to an 1890s creation by Joe and Zack Miller of the 101 Ranch Wild West Show. Other references mention that it is similar to the popular-at-its-time “Rock Me to Sleep Mother” (written by Elizabeth Chase Akers Allen in 1866; sometimes attributed to Florence Percy, which was the pen name of Elizabeth Chase Akers Allen, and Ernest Leslie, composer) that begins “Backward, turn backward, Oh Time, in your flight, make me a child again just for tonight.”

Find more about the song and poem, including some alternate lines, at CowboyPoetry.com.

This 1939 photo by Arthur Rothstein (1915-1985) is from The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Farm Services Administration (FSA). It is titled, “Custer Forest, Montana.”

Rothstein was a student of Roy Styker, who conceived the documentary photography project for the FSA. Find more about Arthur Rothstein at Wikipedia.

Find more about the photo here.

 

 

 

I’D LIKE TO BE IN TEXAS FOR THE ROUNDUP IN THE SPRING, traditional

jbposter

 

I’D LIKE TO BE IN TEXAS FOR THE ROUNDUP IN THE SPRING
traditional

In a lobby of a big hotel in New York town one day,
Sat a bunch of fellows telling yarns to pass the time away.
They told of places where they’d been and all the sights they’d seen,
And some of them praised Chicago town and others New Orleans.

I can see the cattle grazing o’er the hills at early morn;
I can see the camp-fires smoking at the breaking of the dawn,
I can hear the broncos neighing I can hear the cowboys sing;
Oh I’d like to be in Texas for the round-up in the spring.

In a corner in an old arm chair sat a man whose hair was gray,
He had listened to them longingly, to what they had to say.
They asked him where he’d like to be and his clear old voice did ring:
“I’d like to be in Texas for the round-up in the spring.

They all sat still and listened to each word he had to say;
They knew the old man sitting there had once been young and gay.
They asked him for a story of his life out on the plains,
He slowly then removed his hat and quietly began:

“Oh, I’ve seen them stampede o’er the hills,
when you’d think they`d never stop,
I’ve seen them run for miles and miles until their leader dropped,
I was foreman on a cowranch—that’s the calling of a king;
I’d like to be in Texas for the round-up in the spring.”

…authorship uncertain

Cowboy and poet J.B. Allen (1938-2005) recorded an outstanding recitation of this work at the Western Folklife Center’s National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. The recording is on The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Ten from CowboyPoetry.com.

Top cowboy balladeer Don Edwards sings it in a video here.

The great Buck Ramsey (1938-1998) sings the song here.

The authorship of “I’d Like to Be in Texas…” is uncertain. In the late Glenn Ohrlin’s The Hell-Bound Train, he writes, “Vernon Dalhart recorded ‘Roundup in the Spring’ on November 1, 1926… The song was first printed in sheet music copyrighted in 1927 by Lou Fishback (Fort Worth, Tex.); Carl Copeland and Jack Williams were listed as co-writers. The following year, the Texas Folklore Society printed an article by J. Frank Dobie, who claimed it was an old song he had obtained from Andy Adams.”

The Lomax’s include information from the Dobie article, writing that “…he found two lines in an unpublished play of Mr. Andy Adams. When he requested the full version, Mr. Adams sent him two stanzas and the chorus, which he had obtained fifteen years previously from W. E. Hawks, a ranchman now living in Burlington, Vt. However, he claimed to be responsible for most of the second stanza….”

Find more about “I’d Like to Be in Texas” at CowboyPoetry.com.

Top Texas artist Duward Campbell’s 2005 painting of J.B. Allen and his horse Pilgrim was selected for the 2011 Cowboy Poetry Week poster. Find more about it at CowboyPoetry.com,  where there is also more about J.B. Allen.

This year Cowboy Poetry Week is celebrated April 15-21, and the selected poster art is “Out to Pasture” by Clara Smith (www.clarasmithart.com).

Find more about Cowboy Poetry Week here.

 

THE HELL-BOUND TRAIN, Anonymous

thirsty.png

 

THE HELL-BOUND TRAIN
Anonymous

A Texas cowboy lay down on a barroom floor,
Having drunk so much he could drink no more;
So he fell asleep with a troubled brain,
To dream that he rode on a hell-bound train.

The engine with murderous blood was damp,
And was brilliantly lit with a brimstone lamp;
An imp for fuel was shoveling bones,
While the furnace rang with a thousand groans.

The boiler was filled with lager beer,
And the Devil himself was the engineer;
The passengers were a most motley crew
Church member, atheist, Gentile and Jew.

Rich men in broadcloth, beggars in rags,
Handsome young ladies, withered old hags.
Yellow and black men, red, brown and white,
All chained together—O God, what a sight!

While the train rushed on at an awful pace,
The sulfurous fumes scorched their hands and face;
Wider and wider the country grew,
As faster and faster the engine flew

Louder and louder the thunder crashed,
And brighter and brighter the lightning flashed;
Hotter and hotter the air became,
Till the clothes were burnt from each quivering frame.

And out of the distance there arose a yell,
“Ha, ha,” said the Devil, “we’re nearing hell!”
Then, oh, how the passengers shrieked with pain,
And begged the Devil to stop the train.

But he capered about and danced with glee,
And laughed and joked at their misery.
“My faithful friends, you have done the work,
And the Devil never can a payday shirk.

“You’ve bullied the weak, you’ve robbed the poor,
The starving brother you’ve turned from the door;
You’ve laid up gold where the canker rust,
And you have given free vent to your beastly lust.

“You’ve justice scorned and corruption sown,
And trampled the laws of nature down;
You have drunk, rioted, cheated, plundered, and lied,
And mocked at God in your hell-born pride.

“You have paid full fare, so I’ll carry you through;
For its only right you should have your due.
Why, the laborer always expects his hire,
So I’ll land you safe in the lake of fire —

“Where your flesh will waste in the flames that roar,
And my imps torment you forever more.”
Then the cowboy awoke with an anguished cry,
His clothes wet with sweat and and his hair standing high.

Then he prayed as he’d never had prayed till that hour
To be saved from his sin and the demon’s power.
And his prayers and pleadings were not in vain;
For he never rode the hell-bound train

…Anonymous

 

The above version of “The Hell-Bound Train” comes from Jack Thorp’s Songs of the Cowboys, and he prefaces it with “Heard this sung at a cow-camp near Pontoon Crossing, on the Pecos River, by a puncher named Jack Moore.” See our feature about the 1921 book here.

Listen to the late, great legendary cowboy singer and historian Glenn Ohrlin (1926-2015) sing “The Hell-Bound Train.” His landmark book, The Hell-Bound Train; A Cowboy Songbook, is a treasury of information about cowboy songs. In his book, he tells he learned the piece from an aunt, and that its origin is “a minor mystery.”

Andy Hedges has an excellent rendition on his Cowboy Recitations album.

This 1907 photograph by Ed. Tangen, Boulder, Colorado, from a stereo card, is titled “The Thirsty Cowpuncher.” Find more about it at The Library of Congress.

 

THE ZEBRA DUN anonymous

zebradun

THE ZEBRA DUN
anonymous

We were camped on the plains at the head of the Cimmaron
When along came a stranger and stopped to arger some.
He looked so very very foolish that we began to look around,
We thought he was a greenhorn that had just ‘scaped from town.

We asked him if he had he been to breakfast; he had n’t had a smear;
So we opened up the chuck-box and bade him have his share.
He took a cup of coffee and some biscuits and some beans,
And then began to talk and tell about foreign kings and queens,

About the Spanish War and fighting on on the seas
With guns as big as steers and ramrods big as trees,–
And about old Paul Jones, a mean-fighting son of a gun,
Who was the grittiest cuss that ever pulled a gun.

Such an educated feller, his thoughts just came in herds,
He astonished all them cowboys with them jaw-breaking words.
He just kept on talking till he made the boys all sick
And they began to look around just how to play a trick.

He said he had lost his job upon the Santa Fe
And was going across the plains to strike the 7-D.
He did n’t say how come it, some trouble with the boss,
But said he’d like to borrow a nice fat saddle horse.

This tickled all the boys to death; they laughed ‘way down in their sleeves–
“We will lend you a horse just as fresh and fat as you please.”
Shorty grabbed a lariat and roped the Zebra Dun
And turned him over to the stranger and waited for the fun.

Old Dunny was a rocky outlaw that had grown so awful wild
That he could paw the white out of the moon every jump for a mile.
Old Dunny stood right still–as if he didn’t know–
Until he was saddled and ready for to go.

When the stranger hit the saddle, old Dunny quit the earth,
And traveled right straight up for all that he was worth.
A-pitching and a-squealing, a-having wall-eyed fits,
His hind feet perpendicular, his front ones in the bits.

We could see the tops of mountains under Dunny every jump,
But the stranger he was growed there just like the camel’s hump;
The stranger sat upon him and curled his black moustache,
Just like a summer boarder waiting for his hash.

He thumped him in the shoulders and spurred him when he whirled,
To show them flunky punchers that he was the wolf of the world.
When the stranger had dismounted once more upon the ground,
We knew he was a thoroughbred and not a gent from town;

The boss, who was standing round watching of the show,
Walked right up to the stranger and told him he need n’t go–
“If you can use a lasso like you rode old Zebra Dun,
You are the man I’ve been looking for ever since the year one.”

Oh he could twirl the lariat and he did n’t didn’t do it slow;
He could catch them fore feet nine out of ten for any kind of dough,
There’s one thing and a shore thing I’ve learned since I’ve been born,
That every educated feller ain’t a plumb greenhorn.

…anonymous

One of the oldest cowboy songs, “The Zebra Dun” is sometimes known as “The Educated Fellow.” The author is unknown. When Jack Thorp collected the song, he noted that he “first heard the song sung by Randolph Reynolds, Carizozo Flats, in 1890.”

Cowboy and singer Jules Verne Allen (1883-1945) recorded “Zebra Dun” in 1928, the first known commercial recording. Listen to a great version by Cisco Houston (1918-1961) here from Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.

Many others have recorded “Zebra Dun,” and Don Edwards has an outstanding version on his “Saddle Songs” album that you can listen to here.

Find more in our feature about Jack Thorp’s 1912 Songs of the Cowboys.

This 1940 photo of a cowboy at the Quemado, New Mexico rodeo by Russell Lee (1903-1986) is from the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. Find more about it here.

 

NO REST FOR THE HORSE anonymous

Since every day is Labor Day in the ranching world, here’s a tribute to another sort of tireless worker:

thrasher

NO REST FOR THE HORSE
author anonymous

There’s a union for teamster and waiter,
There’s a union for cabman and cook,
There’s a union for hobo and preacher,
And one for detective and crook.

There’s a union for blacksmith and painter,
There is one for the printer, of course;
But where would you go in this realm of woe,
To discover a guild for the horse?

He can’t make a murmur in protest,
Though they strain him both up and down hill,
Or force him to work twenty hours
At the whim of some drunken brute’s will.

Look back at our struggle for freedom—
Trace our present day’s strength to its source,
And you’ll find that man’s pathway to glory,
Is strewn with the bones of the horse.

The mule is a fool under fire;
The horse, although frightened, stands true,
And he’d charge into hell without flinching
‘Twixt the knees of the trooper he knew.

When the troopers grow old they are pensioned,
Or a berth or a home for them found;
When a horse is worn out they condemn him,
And sell him for nothing a pound.

Just think, the old pet of some trooper
Once curried and rubbed twice a day,
Now drags some damned ragpicker’s wagon,
With curses and blows for his pay.

I once knew a grand king of racers,
The best of a cup-wining strain;
They ruined his knees on a hurdle,
For his rider’s hat covered no brain.

I met him again, four years later,
On his side at the foot of a hill,
With two savages kicking his ribs,
And doing their work with a will.

I stroked the once velvety muzzle,
I murmured the old name again,
He once filled my purse with gold dollars;
And this day I bought him for ten.

His present address is “Sweet Pastures,”
He has nothing to do but eat,
Or loaf in the shade on the green, velvet grass,
And dream of the horses he beat.

Now, a dog—well, a dog has a limit;
After standing for all that’s his due,
He’ll pack up his duds some dark evening,
And shine out for scenes which are new.

But a horse, once he’s used to his leather,
Is much like the old-fashioned wife;
He may not be proud of his bargain,
But still he’ll be faithful through life.

And I envy the merciful teamster
Who can stand at the bar and say:
“Kind Lord, with the justice I dealt my horse,
Judge Thou my soul today.”

…Anonymous

Most are familiar with this poem from respected horseman Randy Rieman’s outstanding recitation. Randy’s source for the poem was Songs of Horses, an anthology edited by Robert Frothingham (1865-1937) in 1920. (Find links to digitized versions of the book here.

We also found the same “No Rest for the Horse” poem under a different title, “To a Quiet But Useful Class,” in a 1902 edition of Life magazine. There is no author attributed in that instance, either. You can see the poem in that Life magazine in an edition that has been digitized by Google Book Search, on page 488.

This c. 1910 photo is titled, “Harvesting machine pulled by 32 horses in Spokane, Washington.” The photo is from The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. Find more here.

This poem and photograph are in the public domain.

THE COWBOY’S RETURN (MAKE ME A COWBOY AGAIN FOR A DAY) authorship uncertain

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THE COWBOY’S RETURN (MAKE ME A COWBOY AGAIN FOR A DAY)
authorship uncertain

Backward, turn backward, oh, Time with your wheels,
Aeroplanes, wagons and automobiles
Dress me once more in sombrero that flaps,
Spurs, and a flannel shirt, slicker and chaps
Put a six-shooter or two in my hand.
Show me a yearling to rope and to brand
Out where the sage brush is dusty and gray,
Make me a cowboy again for a day.

Give me a broncho that knows how to dance,
Buckskin of color and wicked of glance,
New to the feeling of bridles and bits
Give me a quirt that will sting where it hits,
Strap on the poncho behind in a roll,
Pass me the lariat, dear to my soul,
Over the trail let me gallop away.
Make me a cowboy again for a day.

Thunder of hoofs on the range as you ride
Hissing of iron and the smoking of hide,
Bellow of cattle, and snort of cayuse
Shorthorns from Texas as wild as the deuce;
Midnight stampede, and the milling of herds
Yells of the cowmen too angry for words
Right in the thick of it all I would stay.
Make me a cowboy again for a day.

Under the star-studded canopy vast
Campfire and coffee and comfort at last.
(Bacon that sizzles and crisps in the pan
After the roundup smells good to a man.)
Stories of ranchers and rustlers retold
Over the pipes as the embers grow cold—
These are the tunes that old memories play,
Make me a cowboy again for a day.

…as in Leslie’s Weekly, 1910

Our great American troubadour Don Edwards includes “Make Me a Cowboy Again for a Day” in his Saddle Songs—A Cowboy Songbag, an invaluable reference book. See his version at CowboyPoetry.com.

The poem is not recited much and the song is not heard or recorded frequently these days. In Saddle Songs, Don Edwards writes, “I always used to love to hear my friend Dick Farnsworth sing this old song…Dick sang it to the tune of ‘One Morning in May.’ It is also interchangeable with ‘Wild Rippling Water.’ Dick was a real good and cherished friend and I miss him a lot. Kind of like these old songs if folks quit singin’ ’em…they’ll be gone someday and won’t be comin’ back.” The same page in the book includes a quote from Richard Farnsworth, “I sing a little better than a crow but not as good as a canary.”

Don Edwards sings “Make Me a Cowboy Again for a Day” on his Wrangler Award-winning album, Saddle Songs II Last of the Troubadours.” You can hear it on YouTube.

“Make Me a Cowboy Again for a Day” is included in Songs Texas Sings (1936), a small songbook created for the Texas centennial for schools, which has an introduction by John Lomax. No author is given.

In a search for the earliest printing of the poem or song, we found the above version in Leslie’s Weekly, the October 6, 1910 edition. The author was given as “Rorodore Theovelt,” which looks like an awkward re-arrangement of Theodore Roosevelt. Earlier in 1910, Roosevelt’s secretary, William Loeb, Jr. became a member of Leslie’s board. Perhaps it was meant as a spoof.

Glenn Ohrlin notes that George B. German, in the 1932 Cowboy Campfire Ballads credits the song to an 1890s creation by Joe and Zack Miller of the 101 Ranch Wild West Show. Other references mention that it is similar to the popular-at-its-time “Rock Me to Sleep Mother” (written by Elizabeth Chase Akers Allen in 1866; sometimes attributed to Florence Percy, which was the pen name of Elizabeth Chase Akers Allen, and Ernest Leslie, composer) that begins “Backward, turn backward, Oh Time, in your flight, make me a child again just for tonight.”

Find more about the song and poem, including some alternate lines, at CowboyPoetry.com.

This 1939 photo by Arthur Rothstein (1915-1985) is from The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Farm Services Administration (FSA). It is titled, “Custer Forest, Montana.”

Rothstein was a student of Roy Styker, who conceived the documentary photography project for the FSA. Find more about Arthur Rothstein at Wikipedia.

Find more about the photo here.

 

 

 

I’D LIKE TO BE IN TEXAS FOR THE ROUNDUP IN THE SPRING traditional

roundup

I’D LIKE TO BE IN TEXAS FOR THE ROUNDUP IN THE SPRING
traditional

In a lobby of a big hotel in New York town one day,
Sat a bunch of fellows telling yarns to pass the time away.
They told of places where they’d been and all the sights they’d seen,
And some of them praised Chicago town and others New Orleans.

I can see the cattle grazing o’er the hills at early morn;
I can see the camp-fires smoking at the breaking of the dawn,
I can hear the broncos neighing I can hear the cowboys sing;
Oh I’d like to be in Texas for the round-up in the spring.

In a corner in an old arm chair sat a man whose hair was gray,
He had listened to them longingly, to what they had to say.
They asked him where he’d like to be and his clear old voice did ring:
“I’d like to be in Texas for the round-up in the spring.

They all sat still and listened to each word he had to say;
They knew the old man sitting there had once been young and gay.
They asked him for a story of his life out on the plains,
He slowly then removed his hat and quietly began:

“Oh, I’ve seen them stampede o’er the hills,
when you’d think they`d never stop,
I’ve seen them run for miles and miles until their leader dropped,
I was foreman on a cowranch—that’s the calling of a king;
I’d like to be in Texas for the round-up in the spring.”

…authorship uncertain

Cowboy and poet JB Allen (1938-2005) recorded an outstanding recitation of this work at the Western Folklife Center’s National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. The recording is on The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Ten from CowboyPoetry.com.

Top cowboy balladeer Don Edwards sings it in a video here.

The great Buck Ramsey (1938-1998) sings the song here.

The authorship of “I’d Like to Be in Texas…” is uncertain. In the late Glenn Ohrlin’s The Hell-Bound Train, he writes, “Vernon Dalhart recorded ‘Roundup in the Spring’ on November 1, 1926… The song was first printed in sheet music copyrighted in 1927 by Lou Fishback (Fort Worth, Tex.); Carl Copeland and Jack Williams were listed as co-writers. The following year, the Texas Folklore Society printed an article by J. Frank Dobie, who claimed it was an old song he had obtained from Andy Adams.”

The Lomax’s include information from the Dobie article, writing that “…he found two lines in an unpublished play of Mr. Andy Adams. When he requested the full version, Mr. Adams sent him two stanzas and the chorus, which he had obtained fifteen years previously from W. E. Hawks, a ranchman now living in Burlington, Vt. However, he claimed to be responsible for most of the second stanza….”

Find more about “I’d Like to Be in Texas” at CowboyPoetry.com.

This 1929 photo by Russell Lee (1903-1986) is titled, “Cowboys roping horses at roundup near Marfa, Texas.” It is from The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs. Find more about it here.

Russell Lee taught photography at the University of Texas, Austin, from 1965-1973, and is best known for his FSA photos. Find more about him at Texas State University’s Russell Lee Collection.