THE TEXAS COWBOY traditional

brigidjohnnyBrigid and Johnny “Guitar” Reedy photo © 2019, John Reedy


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



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 (, well worth viewing) for this photograph of Brigid and Johnny.

Find more at


Request permission to share this post; the song is in the public domain.


myfathers2019photo © 2015, John Michael Reedy; request permission for use

by DW Groethe

It must’ve been a day
for peace an’ reverie
When my father took a pencil in his hand
an’ scribed upon his notebook,
all the horses that he’d had
when growin’ up in West Dakota land.

I can see him sittin’, thoughtful,
soft smile in his eyes,
As the ponies pranced before him, once again.
Then he jotted each one down,
with a slow an’ careful hand.
Sometimes, horses, can count right up with kin.

Tobe, Frank an’ Muggins,
Daisy I an’ Daisy II,
(his mem’ry felt a breeze that stirred their manes.)
Charlie, Chub an’ Pearl
found their way up to the front
an’ back once more upon the dusty plains.

Prince I an’ II an’ Mike
come lopin’ lightly into view,
he penned their mem’ries, gentle on the page…
a-waitin’ an’ a thinkin’,
he was missin’…just a few
when Queen an’ May neared, nickerin’ thru the sage.

An’ finally, down the draw,
come Thunder, Buck an’ Bill
a’flyin’ like the wind an’ they was one.
then he eased back in his chair,
contemplatin’ all that’s there,
his gatherin’ of the old bunch was all done.

Yeah…it must’ve been a day
of peace an’ reverie,
in his office, at a desk of metal gray,
when the ol’ man made a tally
a-gatherin’ up his cavvy,
One last time, a-fore they slipped away.

© 2007, DW Groethe
This poem should not reprinted or reposted without permission

Eastern Montana ranch hand, poet, and picker DW Groethe told us about this popular poem’s inspiration, “Among the many things I inherited from my father was a box of items from his office desk. In it there was a handful of pens and pencils and a small pocket notebook…On the first page he’d written the names of sixteen horses…the horses he’d grown up with back in the twenties and thirties. I wish I could remember all the
stories he had about them. As it is, all I have is a page in an old worn notebook and a poem to honor their memories.”

DW performs his poetry and music at venues small and large. He’s appeared many times at the Western Folklife Center’s National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, and has been invited to the the National Traditional Council for the Arts’ National Folk Festival, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, The Library of Congress, and other places. He has books and recordings. Find more about him at

This beautiful June, 2015 photograph is by John Michael Reedy, Montana photographer, songwriter, musician, and poet. Pictured along with the horses are his offspring, the impressively talented Brigid and Johnny Reedy. The young Reedys are just back from performing at the Montana Folk Festival. They perform at events across the West, including the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

See Brigid and Johnny Reedy at the 10th annual Lost N Lava ​Cowboy Gathering,  September 20-21, 2019 and they’ll be at the Texas Hill Country Cowboy Gathering, November 8-9, 2019 in Fredericksburg.

See additional impressive photography at John Reedy’s site. Find more about him at and visit

(Please respect copyright. You can share this poem and image with this post, but please request permission for other uses.)

WET BOOTS, by Bruce Kiskaddon


by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950)

A cowboy goes under a turrible strain,
When he tries to wear boots that’s been soaked in the rain.
He pulls and he wiggles, and after he’s tried,
He gits him some flour and sprinkles inside.

Then he gits him two jack knives; puts one in each lug
And he stomps and he pulls till his eyes start to bug.
Next he tries a broom handle—an awful mistake.
Which same he finds out when he feels the lug break.

The toes and the heels they bust out of his socks,
And it’s awful to hear how that cowpuncher talks.
He opens his knife and it shore is a sin,
Fer he cuts his new boots till his feet will go in.

I reckon, old-timer, you know how he feels.
You have kicked bunk house walls and the chuck wagon wheels.
And you know when yore older, there’s nothin’ to gain
From buyin’ tight boots if you work in the rain.

…by Bruce Kiskaddon
This poem was included in Kiskaddon’s 1935 book, Western Poems.

Kiskaddon worked for ten years as a cowboy, starting in 1898, working in southeastern Colorado’s Picketwire area. He wrote many poems still read and recited today.

Talented Montanan Johnny “Guitar” Reedy, 13, recites the poem on the new 3-CD project from Cowboy, MASTERS: VOLUME THREE, the poetry of Bruce Kiskaddon. His sister, Brigid Reedy and their father, John Reedy, also contributed recitations to the new CD. They all perform at events across the West.

Find much more poetry and more about Bruce Kiskaddon in our features at

This 1940 photo by Russell Lee (1903-1986) is titled, “Cowboy pulling on boots, rodeo, Quemado, New Mexico.” It’s from the Farm Security Administration – Office of War Information Photograph Collection at The Library of Congress.

Find a feature about noted photographer and teacher Russell Lee with a gallery of photographs from the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin.

This poem and photograph are in the public domain.

RIDIN’ Charles Badger Clark, Jr. (1883-1957)


photo © 2016, John Michael Reedy

Charles Badger Clark, Jr. (1883-1957)

There is some that like the city—
Grass that’s curried smooth and green,
Theaytres and stranglin’ collars,
Wagons run by gasoline—
But for me it’s hawse and saddle
Every day without a change,
And a desert sun a-blazin’
On a hundred miles of range.

Just a-ridin’, a-ridin’—
Desert ripplin’ in the sun,
Mountains blue among the skyline—
I don’t envy anyone
When I’m ridin’.

When my feet is in the stirrups
And my hawse is on the bust,
With his hoofs a-flashin’ lightnin’
From a cloud of golden dust,
And the bawlin’ of the cattle
Is a-comin’ down the wind
Then a finer life than ridin’
Would be mighty hard to find.

Just a-ridin’, a-ridin’—
Splittin’ long cracks through the air,
Stirrin’ up a baby cyclone,
Rippin’ up the prickly pear
As I’m ridin’.

I don’t need no art exhibits
When the sunset does her best,
Paintin’ everlastin’ glory
On the mountains to the west
And your opery looks foolish
When the night-bird starts his tune
And the desert’s silver mounted
By the touches of the moon.

Just a-ridin’, a-ridin’—
Who kin envy kings and czars
When the coyotes down the valley
Are a singin’ to the stars,
If he’s ridin’?

When my earthly trail is ended
And my final bacon curled
And the last great roundup’s finished
At the Home Ranch of the world
I don’t want no harps nor haloes
Robes nor other dressed up things—
Let me ride the starry ranges
On a pinto hawse with wings!

Just a-ridin’, a-ridin’—
Nothin’ I’d like half so well
As a-roundin’ up the sinners
That have wandered out of Hell,
And a-ridin’

….by Charles Badger Clark

Charles Badger Clark, Jr. got his cowboying experience in Arizona. He became the Poet Laureate of South Dakota, where he was born and lived for most of his life.

“Ridin'” is said to be his first poem. It was was included in his first poetry collection, Sun and Saddle Leather, in 1915.

Don Edwards put the poem to music and it is on his Saddle Songs album. Listen and watch a 2012 video where he sings and Waddie Mitchell recites “Commuting.”

Clark’s own recitation of the poem was included on The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Two, from  It came from a recording now available from the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation, which also has books and other items, biographical material, and more.

Clark wrote many lasting poems, and others also found their way into song (including “Spanish is a Loving Tongue” and “To Her”). Find poetry and more in our features about Badger Clark.

This beautiful May, 2016 photograph is by John Michael Reedy, Montana photographer, songwriter, musician, and poet. Pictured is his daughter Brigid, now 18, on Splash. Brigid is a poet, songwriter, musician, artist, and more. A recent CD with her brother, Johnny and John Reedy, Handmade, showcases their impressive talents with poetry, original musical compositions, and traditional tunes. Find more about the CD at

Brigid and Johnny Reedy also appear on the just-released MASTERS: VOLUME TWO, the poems of S. Omar Barker from

See additional impressive photography at John Reedy’s site. Find more about him at and visit

(Please respect copyright. You can share this photograph with this post, but request permission for other uses.)

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