Lone Hand Western - Old West History

Cowboy Songs



Cowboy Songs - Vintage cowboy songs from the old west.

Sometimes it's hard to remember the lyrics for all those traditional old cowboy and Western songs no matter how hard we try.  Here are the words for some of the classic songs as well as the words for the songs you may not hear anymore.  New songs will be added on a regular basis.  If you are looking for the words for a particular song let me know and I will try to post them.  Happy Singing!

Cowboy Songs Index   Cowboy Songs 1   Cowboy Songs 2

Cowboy Songs 3    Cowboy Songs 4    Cowboy Songs  5    Cowboy Songs 6 

Civil War Music

Cowboy Songs

Cowboy And Western Songs A Comprehensive Anthology

Cowboy and Western Songs a Comprehensive Anthology

This info-packed, 372-page collection features 200 American cowboy songs with complete lyrics, lead lines and guitar chords, plus an extensive introduction, notes on the songs, illustrations by J.K. Ralston throughout, a lexicon of cowboy terms, a general index and an index of titles and first lines, and more.
See Complete Song List

*********************************************************

A  B  C  D  F  G  H  I  J  L  M

N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

A

A Fair Lady Of The Plains

There was a fair lady who lived on the plains, 
She helped me herd cattle through hard stormy rains, 
She helped me one season all through the roundup, 
She would drink with me from the cold bitter cup, 
She loved the red liquor which serves a man so, 
She was a fair lady as white as the snow.

 She loved the red liquor which serves a man so, 
She was a fair lady as white as the snow; 
I taught her as a cowboy when the rangers come round, 
To use a six-shooter in both of her hands, 
To use a six-shooter an' never to run 
As long as the loads lasted in either gun.

We was goin' down the canyon in the spring one year, 
To camp there a season with a herd of wild steers; 
The Injuns charged on us at the dead hour of the night, 
We rose from our slumber the battle for to fight. 
Mid lightnin' an' thunder an' the downpour of rain, 
It's in come a bullet an' dashed out her brains!

 Mid lightnin' an' thunder an' the downpour of rain, 
It's in come a bullet an' dashed out her brains. 
I sprung to my saddle with a gun in each hand, Sayin', 
"Come all you cowboys, let's fight for our band." 
Sayin', "Come all you cowboys, let's fight for our life; 
These redskins has murdered my darlin' young wife

Arizona Killer

I killed a man in Dallas, 
And another in Cheyenne 
But when I killed the man in Tombstone 
I overplayed my hand 

I rode all night for Tucson 
To rob the Robles Mine 
And I left old Arizona 
With a posse right behind 

I rode across the border
And there it did not fail 
The men that was a-follerin' me 
They soon did lose my trail; 

They galloped back to Tucson 
To get the Cavalry 
While I stayed on in Mexico 
Enjoying liberty; 

Ayi-ha, enjoyed my liberty 
I promised my Rosita 
A pretty dress of blue 
She said, "You'd go and get it

So I went back to the border 
Just to get that gal a dress 
I killed a man in Guaymas 
And two in Nogales;
 
But the posse was a-waitin' 
To get me on the trail 
Now in Tombstone I'm a layin' 
In the Cochise County jail; 

They-re gonna hang me in the morning 
A'fore this night is done 
They're gonna hang me in the mornin' 
And I'll never see the sun 

I want to warn you fellers 
And tell you one by one 
What makes a gallows rope to swing 
A woman and a gun

B

Back in the Saddle Again

I'm back in the saddle again, out where a friend is a friend,
Where the long horn cattle feed on the lonely jimson weed
I'm back in the saddle again.
Ridin' the range once more, totin' my old forty-four,
Where you sleep out every night and the only law is right,
Back in the saddle again.

Whoopi ti yi yo, rockin' to a fro, back in the saddle again
Whoopi ti yi  yea, I'll go my own way
Back in the saddle again.

Two cow girls in chaps.

Billy the Kid

I'll sing you a true song of Billy the Kid,
And tell of the desperate deeds that he did,
Out here in the West, boys, in New Mexico,
When a man's best friend was his old Forty-four.

When Billy the Kid was a very young lad,
In old Silver City, he went to be bad;
At twelve years of age the Kid killed his first man,
Then blazed a wide trail with a gun in each hand.

Fair Mexican maidens played soft on guitars
And sang of "Billito" their king 'neath the stars;
He was a brave lover, and proud of his fame,
And no man could stand 'gainst the Kid's deadly aim.

Now Billy ranged wide, his killings were vile;
He shot fast, and first, when his blood got a-rile,
And, 'fore his young manhood did reach its sad end,
His six-guns held notches for twenty-one men.

Then Gov'ner Lew Wallace sent word to the Kid
to ride in and talk, for a pardon to bid:
But Billy said: "I ain't a-feerd of the law;
There's no man a-livin' can beat me to the draw!"

The Gov'ner then sent for another fast man:
Pat Garrett, the sheriff, and told of a plan
To catch Billy napping at his gal's; so he said:
"We'll bring him to Justice: alive or plumb dead!"

"Twas on that same night, into town Billy rid,
And said: "Mis amigos, all hark to the Kid!
There's twenty-one men I have put bullets through
And Sheriff, Pat Garrett, must make twenty-two!"

Now this is how Billy the Kid met his fate:
The bright moon was shining, the hour was late;
To Pete Maxwell's place Billy went in all pride,
Not knowing the dark hid the Sheriff inside.

As Billy show'd plain in the moon-lighted door,
He fell in his tracks, and laid dead on the floor;
Shot down by Pat Garrett, who one was his friend,
Young Billy, the Outlaw, and his life did end!

There's many a young boy with fine face and air
That starts in his life with the chances all fair;
But, like young Billito, he wanders astray
And departs his life in the same hardful way! 

Blood on the Saddle

There's blood on the saddle and blood on the ground,
And a great great big puddle of blood all around;
A cowboy lay in it all covered with gore
And he never will ride any broncos no more.

Oh, pity the cowboy all gory and red,
A bronco fell on him and bashed in his head.
There was blood on the saddle and blood on the ground,
A great big puddle of blood all around.

The Bucking Bronco

My love is a rider, wild horses he breaks,
But he promised to quit it all just for my sake;
He sold off his saddle, his spurs, and his rope,
And there'll be no more riding, and that's what I hope.

The first time I saw him was early last spring,
A-riding a bronco, a high-headed thing;
He laughed and he talked as they danced to and fro
He promised he'd not ride no other bronco.

My love has a gun that has gone to the bad,
Which makes all the ladies to feel very sad;
He give me some presents, among them a ring
But the return I gave him was a far better thing.

Now, all you young ladies that live on the Platte
Don't marry the cowboy who wears a white hat;
He'll pet you and court you and then be will go
And ride up the trail on another bronco.

Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie

"O bury me not on the lone prairie" 
These words came low and mournfully 
From the pallid lips of the youth who lay 
On his dying be at the close of day. 

"O bury me not on the lone prairie 
Where the wild coyote will howl o'er me 
Where the buffalo roams the prairie sea 
O bury me not on the lone prairie" 

"It makes no difference, so I've been told 
Where the body lies when life grows cold 
But grant, I pray, one wish to me 
O bury me not on the lone prairie" 

"I've often wished to be laid when I die 
By the little church on the green hillside 
By my father's grave, there let mine be 
O bury me not on the lone prairie" 

The cowboys gathered all around the bed 
To hear the last word that their comrade said 
O partners all, take a warning from me 
Never leave your homes for the lone prairie" 

"Don't listen to the enticing words 
Of the men who own droves and herds 
For if you do, you'll rue the day 
That you left your homes for the lone prairie" 

"O bury me not," but his voice failed there 
But we paid no head to his dying prayer 
In a narrow grave, just six by three 
We buried him there on the lone prairie 

We buried him there on the lone prairie 
Where the buzzards fly and the wind blows free 
Where rattlesnakes rattle, and the tumbleweeds 
Blow across his grave on the lone prairie 

And the cowboys now as they cross the plains 
Have marked the spot where his bones are lain 
Fling a handful of roses on his grave 
And pray to the Lord that his soul is saved 

In a narrow grave, just six by three 
We buried him there on the lone prairie

C

Cattle Call 

When the new day is dawning I wake up a yawning,
Drinking my coffee strong;
Make my bed in a role, down the trail I will stroll
Singing this old cattle call.

(yodel)

With my saddle all shedded and the cattle all bedded
Nothing wild seems to be wrong;
Make my bed 'neath the skies, I look up at the stars,
And then I can sing you this call.

Well, each day I do ride o'er a range far and wide.
I'm going home this fall;
Well I don't mind the weather, my hearts like a feather,
'Cause always I'll sing you this call.

(bridge 1)

He rides in the sun till his days work is done
And he rounds up the cattle each fall.

(bridge 2)

He's brown as a berry from riding the prairie
And he sings with an old western drawl.

Clementine

In a canyon, in a cavern, excavating for a mine,
lived a miner, forty niner and his daughter Clementine.

(chorus)

Oh my darlin', oh my darlin' oh my darlin, Clementine,
you are lost and gone forever, dreadful sorry Clementine.

Light she was, just like a fairy and her shoes were number nine,
herring boxes without topses, sandals were for Clementine.

Led her ducklings to the water every morning just at nine,
Hit her foot upon a splinter, fell into the foaming brine.

Ruby lips above the water blowing bubbles soft and fine,
But alas I was no swimmer and I lost my Clementine.

Cowboy in woodland.

Cole Younger

I am a reckless highwayman, Cole Younger is my name,
An' many a desperation has caused my friends much shame;
For the robbin' of the Northfield bank, my friends, I cain't deny,
For which I am a poor pris'ner now, In the Stillwater jail I lie.

Of all my darin' bold robberies a story to you I'll tell,
Of a California miner on whom my eyes befell,
I robbed him of his money an' told him to go his way
For which I will be sorry of until my dyin'day.

An' then we started for Texas, where brother Bob did say,
That on fast horses we must ride in revenge of our father's day
On them fast horses we did go to try to win the prize,
An', we'll fight them anti-guerillas until our dyin' day.

An' the next we surprised was the Union Pacific train,
The crimes we done that bloody day brings tears into my eyes,
The engineer an' fireman killed, the conductor escaped alive,
An'now their bodies lie moulderin' beneath the Nebraska skies

Then again we started for Texas, that good old Lone Star state;
A-crossin'the Nebraska prairies the James boys we did meet,
With guns an' knives an' revolvers we all sat down to play,
While drinkin' a lot of bad whiskey to pass the time away.

An' again we saddled our horses back up north for to go,
To that God-forsaken country that they call Minnesoto,
I had my eye oni the Northfield Bank when brother Bob did say,
Oh Cole, if you undertake that job you sure will rue the day.

Although we stationed our pickets an' up to the bank did go,
It was there behind the counter, boys, I struck my fatal blonv
Then hand us out your money, an' give us no delay,
For we are the noted Younger Boys an'have no time to play.

An' while the cashier was ponderin', I heard poor Jesse say,
It's gettin' pretty warm out here, we'd better be gettin' away.

Colorado Trail

Eyes like a morning star
Cheeks like a rose;
Laura was a pretty girl
God almighty knows;

Weep all you little rains,
Wail, winds, wail
All along, along along
The Colorado trail.

additional verses:

Ride, all the lonely night
Ride through the day,
Keep the herd a-movin' on
Movin' on its way.

Dark is the stormy night
Dark is the sky,
Wish I'd stayed in Abilene
Nice and warm and dry

Cool Water

All day I face the barren waste without the taste of water,
Cool water.
Old Dan and I with throats burned dry and souls that cry for water,
Cool water.

The night are cool and I'm a fool each stars a pool of water,
Cool water.
But with the dawn I'll wake and yawn and carry on to water,
Cool water.

(chorus)
Keep a movin' Dan, don't you listen to him Dan, he's a devil not a man
and he spreads the burnin' sand with water.
Dan can't you see that big green tree where the waters runnin' free
and it's waiting there for me and you.
Water, cool water.

The shadows sway and seem to say tonight we pray for water,
Cool water.
And way up there He'll hear our prayer and show us where there's water, 
Cool Water.

Dan's feet are sore he's yearning for just one thing more than water,
Cool water.
Like me, I guess, he'd like to rest where there's no quest for water,
Cool water.

Cowboys Dream

Last night as I lay on the prairie and looked at the stars in the sky,
I wondered if ever a cowboy could drift to that sweet by and by.
The road to that bright happy region is a dim narrow trail so they say,
While the broad one that leads to perdition
Is posted and blazed all the way.

(chorus)
Roll on, roll on, roll on little dogies roll on, roll on.
Roll on, roll on, roll on little dogies roll on.

I'm worried I'll be a stray yearling, a maverick unbranded on high
And get out of the herd with the rustles when the boss of the riders goes by.

They say He will never forget you, that He knows every action and look.
Play it safe you had better get branded, your name in the great tally book.

D

Down in the Valley

Down in the valley, the valley so low 
Hang your head over, hear the wind blow 
Hear the wind blow, dear, hear the wind blow 
Hang your head over, hear the wind blow 

Writing this letter, containing three lines 
Answer my question, will you be mine? 
Will you be mine, dear, will you be mine? 
Answer my question, will you be mine? 

Write me a letter, send it by mail 
Send it in care of the Birmingham jail, 
Birmingham jail, dear, Birmingham jail 
Send it in care of the Birmingham jail 

Roses love sunshine, violets love dew 
Angels in Heaven know I love you 
Know I love you, dear, know I love you 
Angels in Heaven Know I love you

E

F

G

The Gal I Left Behind Me

I hit the trail in 79 the herd strung out behind me,
As I jogged along my thoughts went back to the gal I left behind me.

(chorus)

My sweet little gal, my true little gal the gal I left behind me
My sweet little gal, my true little gal the gal I left behind me.

The wind did blow and the rain did fall
and the hail did fall and blind me
as I rode along my thoughts went back 
to the gal I left behind me.

If I ever get off the trail and the Indians they don't find me
I'll make my way straight back again to the gal I left behind me.

When we sold out the herd I knew where I would find her.
When I got back we had a smack and I'm no gosh durned liar.

Hunting deer.

Git Along Little Dogies

As I walked out one morning for pleasure,
I met a cowpuncher a jogging along;
His hat was throwed back and his spurs was a jingling,
And as he advanced he was singing this song.

(Chorus)

Yippee Ti Yi Yo, get along little dogies
It's your misfortune and none of my own
Yippee Ti Yi Yo get along little dogies
For you know that Wyoming will soon be your home.

Early in the springtime we round up the dogies
Mark them and brand them and bob off their tails
Round up the horses and load the chuck wagon
Throw them little dogies right out on the trail.

In the evening we round in the dogies
As they are grazing from herd all around
You have no idea the trouble they give us
As we are holding them on the bed ground.

In the morning we throw off the bed ground
Aiming to graze them an hour or two
When they are full, you think you can drive them
On the trail, but damned if you do.

Some fellows go on the trail for pleasure,
But they have got this thing down wrong;
If it hadn't been for these troublesome dogies,
I never would thought of writing this song.

H

Home On The Range

Oh give me a home, where the buffalo roam
And the deer and the antelope play
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word
And the skies are not cloudy all day.

(chorus)

Home, home on the range
Where the deer and the antelope play
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word
And the skies are not cloudy all day

How often at night, when the heavens are bright
With the light of the glimmering stars
I have stood there amazed, and asked as I gazed
If their glory exceeds that of ours.

The red man was pressed from this part of the west
He is likely no more to return
To the banks of Red River, where seldom if ever
His flickering campfires will burn.

I love the wild flowers in this bright land of ours,
I love the wild curlew's shrill scream;
The bluffs and white rocks, and antelope flocks
That graze on the mountains so green.

I

I'd like to be in Texas

In the lobby of a big hotel, in New York town one day,
Sat a bunch of fellers tellin' yarns to pass the time away.
They told of places they had been and different things they'd seen.
Some preferred Chicago town and others New Orleans.

In a corner, in an old arm chair, sat a man whose hair was gray.
He listened to them eagerly, 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 roundup in the spring.

(chorus)

I can see the cattle grazing o'er the hills at early morn;
I can see the campfire smoking at the breaking of the dawn.
I can hear the broncos neighing, I can hear the cowboys sing
I'd like to be in Texas for the roundup in the spring.

 They sat and listened carefully to what he had to say
For they new the old man sitting there had been a top hand in his day.
They asked him for a story of his life out on the plains,
Slowly he removed his hat and quietly began.

"I've seen 'em stampede over hills till you'd think they'd never stop,
I've seen 'em run for miles and miles until their leader dropped,
I was Forman on a  cow ranch, the callin of a king.
I'd like to be in Texas for the roundup in the spring. 

J

Jesse James

Jesse James was a lad that killed many a man,
He robbed the Danville train.
But that dirt little coward who shot Mr. Howard
Has laid poor Jesse in his grave.

Poor Jesse had a wife to mourn for his life,
Three children, they were brave,
But the dirty little coward, who shot Mr. Howard
Has laid poor Jesse in his grave.

It was Robert Ford, that dirty little coward,
I wonder how he did feel,
For he ate of Jesse's bread, and he slept in Jesse's bed,
Then he laid poor Jesse in his grave.

Jesse was a man, a friend to the poor,
He never would see a man suffer pain;
And with his brother, Frank, he robbed the Chicago bank,
And stopped the Glendale train.

It was his brother Frank that robbed the Gallatin bank,
And carried the money from the town;
It was in this very place that they had a little race,
For they shot Captain Sheets to the ground.

They went to the crossing, not very far from there,
And there they did the same;
With the agent on his knees, he delivered up the keys
To the outlaws, Frank and Jesse James.

It was Wednesday night, the moon was shining bright,
They robbed the Glendale train.
The people they did say, for many mile away
It was robbed by Frank and Jesse James.

It was Saturday night, Jesse was at home,
Talking with his family brave.
Robert Ford came along like a thief in the night
And laid poor Jesse in his grave.

The people held their breath when they heard of Jesse's death,
And wondered how he came to die;
It was one of the gang called little Robert Ford,
He shot poor Jesse on the sly.

Jesse went to his rest with a hand on his breast;
The devil will be upon his knee.
He was born one day in the County of Clay
And came from a solitary race.

This sing was made by Billy Gashade
As soon as the news did arrive.
He said there was no man, with the law in his hand,
Who could take Jesse James while alive.

K

L

Little Joe, the Wrangler

Little Joe, the wrangler, will never wrangle more;
His days with the remuda they are done.
'Twas a year ago last April he joined the outfit here,
A little Texas stray and all alone. 

'Twas long late in the evening he rode up to the herd
On a little old brown pony he called Chaw;
With his brogan shoes and overalls a harder looking kid
You never in your life had seen before.

His saddle 'twas a southern kack built many years ago,
An O.K. spur on one foot idle hung,
While his "hot roll" in a cotton sack was loosely tied behind
And a canteen from the saddle horn he'd slung.

He said he'd had to leave his home, his daddy'd married twice
And his new ma beat him every day or two;
So he saddled up old Chaw one night and "lit a shuck" this way
Thought he'd try and paddle his own canoe.

Said he'd try and do the best he could if we'd only give him work
Though he didn't know "straight" up about a cow,
So the boss he cut him out a mount and kinder put him on
For he sorta liked the little stray somehow.

Taught him how to herd the horses and to learn to know them all
To round 'em up by daylight; if he could
To follow the chuck wagon and to always hitch the team
And help the "cosinero" rustle wood.

We'd driven hard to red river and the weather had been fine;
We were camped down on the south side of the bend
When a norther commenced blowing and we doubled up our guards
For it took all hands to hold the cattle then.

Little Joe the wrangler was called out with the rest
And scarcely had the kid got to the herd
When the cattle they stampeded; like a hail storm, long they flew
And all of us were riding for the lead.

"Tween the streaks of lightning we could see a horse out far ahead
'Twas little Joe the wrangler in the lead;
We was riding "old Blue Rocket" with his slicker 'bove his head
Trying to check the leaders in their speed.

At last we got them milling and kind of quieted down
And the extra guard back to the camp did go
But one of them was missin' and we all knew at a glance
'Twas our little Texas stray poor wrangler Joe.

Next morning just at sunup we found where Rocket fell
Down in a washout twenty feet below
Beneath his horse mashed to a pulp his horse had rung the knell
For our little Texas stray--poor wrangler Joe.

M

N

O

Old Chisholm Trail 

Oh come along, boys, and listen to my tale,
I'll tell you all my troubles on the ol' Chisholm trail.

(chorus)

Come a-ti yi youpy youpy yea youpy yea
Come a-ti yi youpy youpy yea

On a ten dollar horse and a forty dollar saddle,
I was ridin', and a punchin' Texas cattle.

We left ol' Texas October twenty-third
Drivin' up the trail with the U-2 herd.

I'm up in the morning before daylight,
And before I sleep the moon shine bright.

It's bacon and beans most every day,
I'd just as soon be eating prairie hay.

I woke up one morning on the Chisholm trail,
With a rope in my hand and a cow by the tail,

Last night on guard, and the leader broke the ranks,
I hit my horse down the shoulders and spurred him in the flanks.

Oh, it's cloudy in the west, and a lookin' like rain,
And my darned old slicker's in the wagon again.

Oh the wind commenced to blow and the rain began to fall,
And it looked by grab that we was gonna lose 'em all.

I jumped in the saddle an' I grabbed a-hold the horn,
The best damned cowpuncher ever was born. 

I was on my best horse, and a going on the run,
The quickest shootin' cowboy that ever pulled a gun.

No chaps, no slicker, and it's pouring down rain,
And I swear, by God, I'll never night herd again.

I herded and I hollered, and I done pretty well,
Till the boss said, "Boys, just let 'em go to Hell."

I'm going to the ranch to draw my money,
Goin' into town to see my honey.

I went to the boss to get my roll,
He figured me out nine dollars in the hole.

So I'll sell my outfit as fast as I can,
And I won't punch cows for no damn man.

So I sold old baldy and I hung up my saddle,
And I bid farewell to the longhorn cattle.

Goodbye old friend.

Old Cowboys Lament

The range's filled up with farmers and there's fences ev'rywhere
A painted house 'most ev'ry quarter mile
They're raisin' blooded cattle and plantin' sorted seed
And puttin' on a painful lot o' style

There hain't no grass to speak of and the water holes are gone
The wire of the farmer holds 'em tight
There's little use to law 'em and little use to kick
And mighty sight less use there is to fight

There's them coughin' separaters and their dirty, dusty crews
And wagons runnin' over with the grain
With smoke a-driftin' upward and writin' on the air
A story that to me is mighty plain

The wolves have left the country and the long-horns are no more
And all the game worth shootin' at is gone
And it's time for me to foller, 'cause I'm only in the way
And I've got to be a-movin' -- movin' on

Old Paint

I ride and Old Paint, I lead Old Dan
I'm off for Cheyenne to do the hoolihan.

(chorus)

Good-bye, Old Paint, I'm leaving Cheyenne
Good-bye, Old Paint, I'm leaving Cheyenne

Old Paint's a good pony, he paces when he can,
Good-bye, my little Annie, I'm off for Cheyenne.

Go hitch up your horses and feed 'em some hay,
And sit yourself by me as long as you'll stay.

My horses ain't hungry, they won't eat your hay
My wagon is loaded and rolling away.

They feed in the coulies, they water in the draw,
Their tails are all matted, their back are all raw.

Bill Jones had two daughters and a song,
One went to Denver, the other went wrong.

His wife she died in a barroom fight,
And still he sings from morning to night.

Oh, when I die, take my saddle from the wall,
Put it on my pony and lead him from the stall.

Tie my bone to his back, turn our faces to the West
And we'll ride the prairie that we have loved best.

P

Q

R

Red River Valley

From this valley they say you are going,
I shall miss your sweet face and bright smile.
For they say you are taking the sunshine
That has brightened my pathway awhile.

I've been thinking a long time my darling,
Of those sweet words you never would say,
But the last of my fond hopes have vanished
For they say you are going away.

(chorus)

Then come sit here awhile ere you leave us
Do not hasten to bid us adieu,
And remember the Red River Valley
And the cowboy who loves you so true.

I have promised you, darling, that never
Would words from my lips cause you pain;
My life will be yours forever
If only you sill love me again.

There never could be such a longing
In the heart of a poor cowboys breast,
As dwells in this heart you are breaking
While I wait in my home in the west.

Do you think of this valley you are leaving,
Oh, how lonely and dreary it will be?
Do you think of the kind hearts you are breaking,
And the pain you are causing to me?

Riding Down the Canyon

When evening chores are over at the ranch house on the plains
And all I have to do is lay around,
I saddle up my pony and go ridin' down the trail
To watch the desert sun go down.

Ridin' down the canyon to watch the sun go down
A picture that no artist ere can paint.
White faced cattle lowing on the mountain side,
I hear a coyote calling for its mate.

Cactus plants are blooming, sage brush everywhere,
granite spires are standing all around,
I tell you folks it's heaven to go riding down the trail
When the desert sun goes down.

S

Sam Bass

Sam Bass was born in Indiana, it was his native home, 
And at the age of seventeen, young Sam began to roam. 
Sam first came out to Texas a cowboy for to be
 A kinder-hearted fellow you seldom ever see. 

Sam used to deal in race stock, one called the Denton mare; 
He matched her in scrub races and took her to the fair. 
Sam used to coin the money and spent it just as free, 
He always drank good whiskey wherever he might be. 

Sam left the Collins ranch in the merry month of May 
With a herd of Texas cattle the Black Hills for to see,
 Sold out in Custer City and then got on a spree- 
A harder set of cowboys you seldom ever see. 

On their way back to Texas they robbed the U.P. train, 
And then split up in couples and started out again. 
Joe Collins and his partner were overtaken soon, 
With all their hard-earned money they had to meet their doom. 

Sam made it back to Texas all right side up with care; 
Rode into the town of Denton with all his friends to share. 
Sam's life was short in Texas; three robberies did he do: 
He robbed all the passenger, mail, and express cars too. 

Sam had four companions-four bold and daring lads- 
They were Richardson, Jackson, Joe Collins, and Old Dad; 
Four more bold and daring cowboys the rangers never knew, 
They whipped the Texas Rangers and ran the boys in blue. 

Sam had another companion, called Arkansas for short, 
Was shot by a Texas Ranger by the name of Thomas Floyd; 
Oh, Tom is a big six-footer and thinks he's mighty fly, 
But I can tell you his racket-he's a deadbeat on the sly. 

Jim Murphy was arrested and then released on bail 
He jumped his bond at Tyler and then took the train for Terrell; 
But Mayor Jones had posted Jim and that was all a stall, 
'Twas was only a plan to capture Sam before the coming fall. 

Sam met his fate at Round Rock, July the twenty-first, 
They pierced poor Sam with rifle balls and emptied out his purse, 
Poor Sam he is a corpse and six foot under clay, 
And Jackson's in the bushes trying to get away. 

Jim bad borrowed Sam's good gold and didn't want to pay, 
The only shot he saw was to give poor Sam away. 
He sold out Sam and Barnes and left their friends to mourn 
Oh, what a scorching Jim will get when Gabriel blows his horn. 

And so he sold out Sam and Barnes and left their friends to mourn,
 Oh, what a scorching Jim will get when Gabriel blows his horn. Perhaps he's got to heaven, there's none of us can say 
But if I'm right in my surmise he's gone the other way.

San Antonio Rose

Deep within my heart lies a melody, 
A song of old San Antone. 
Where in dreams I live with a memory, 
Beneath the stars all alone. 
It was there I found beside the Alamo, 
Enchantment strange as the blue up above. 
A moonlit pass only she would know, 
Still hears my broken song of love. 

Moon in all your splendor, know only my heart. 
Call back my Rose, Rose of San Antone. 
Lips so sweet and tender like petals falling apart. 
Speak once again of my love, my own. 

Broken song, empty words I know, 
Still live in my heart all alone, 
For that moonlit pass by the Alamo, 
And Rose, my Rose of San Antone.

Strawberry Roan

I was laying round town just spending my time,
Out of a job and not makin' a dime
When up steps a feller and says, "I suppose
That you're a bronc rider by the look of your clothes?"

He guesses me right. "And a good one I'll claim.
Do you happen to have any bad ones to tame?"
He say's he's got one that's a good one to buck,
And at throwing good writers he's had lots of luck.

He says this old pony has never been rode
And the man that gets on him is bound to be throwed.
I gets all excited and I ask what he pays
To ride this old pony for a couple of days.

He say's "ten dollars." I says "I'm your man;
The bronc never lived that I cannot fan;
The bronc never tried nor never drew breath
That I cannot ride till he starves plumb to death."

He says, "Get your saddle.  I'll give you a chance."
We got in the buggy and went to the ranch.
We waited till morning, right after chuck
I went out to see if that outlaw could buck.

Down in the corral, a-standin' alone,
Was this little old caballo, a strawberry roan.
He had little pin ears that touched at the tip
And a big forty-four brand was on his left hip.

We was spavined all around and he had pidgeon  toes,
Little pig eyes and a big Roman nose.
He was u-necked a old with a long lower jaw-
You could tell at a glance he was a regular outlaw.

I buckled on my spurs, I was feeling plumb fine,
I pulled down my hat and curls up my twine,
I threw the loop on him, right well I knew then,
Before I had rode him I'd sure earn my ten.

I got the blind on him with a terrible fight,
Cinched on the saddle and girded it tight;
Then I steps up on him and pulled down the blind
And sat there in the saddle to see him unwind.

He bowed his old neck and I'll say he unwound,
He seemed to quit living down there on the ground;
He went up to the east and came down to the west
With me in the saddle a doin' my best.

He sure was frog walkin', I heaved a big sigh,
He only lacked wings for to be on the fly;
He turned his old belly right up to the sun,
for he was a sun fishin' son of a gun.

He was the worst bronco I've seen on the range,
He could turn on a nickel and leave you some change.
While he was buckin' he squalled like a shoat,
I tell you that outlaw, he sure got my goat.

I tell all the people that pony could step
And I was still on him a-buildin' a rep;
He came down on all fours and turned up his side,
I don't see how he kept from losin' his hide.

I lost my stirrup, I lost my hat,
I was a pullin' at leather as blind as a bat;
With a phenomenal jump he made a high dive
And set me a-winding up there through the sky.

I turned forty flips and came down to the earth
And sit there a-cussin' the day of his birth.
I know there's some ponies that I cannot ride,
Some of them living, they haven't all died.

But I bet all my money there's no man alive
That can ride Old Strawberry when he makes his high dive. 

Strawberry Roan

Streets of Loredo

As I walked out on the streets of Laredo, 
As I walked out in Laredo one day, 
I spied a young cowboy all wrapped in white linen 
Wrapped in white linen as cold as the clay. 

(chorus)
"Oh, beat the drum slowly and play the fife lowly,
 Play the Dead March as you carry me along, 
Take me to the green valley and lay the sod o'er me 
For I'm a young cowboy and I know I've done wrong." 

"I see by your outfit that you are a cowboy" 
These words he did say as I boldly stepped by, 
"Come sit down beside me and hear my sad story, 
I was shot in the breast and I know I must die." 

"Let sixteen gamblers come handle my coffin, 
Let sixteen cowboys come sing me a song, 
Take me to the graveyard and lay the sod o'er me 
For I'm a poor cowboy and I know I've done wrong." 

"My friends and relations, they live in the Nation, 
They know not where their boy has gone, 
He first came to Texas and hired to a ranchman
 Oh, I'm a young cowboy and I know I've done wrong."

 "Go write a letter to my gray-haired mother, 
And carry the same to my sister so dear, 
But not a word of this shall you mention 
When a crowd gathers round you my story to hear." 

"Then beat your drum slowly and play your fife lowly, 
Beat the Dead March as you carry me along, 
We all love our cowboys so young and so handsome, 
We all love our cowboys although they've done wrong." 

"There is another more dear than a sister
 She'll bitterly weep when she hears I am gone, 
There is another who will win her affections, 
For I'm a young cowboy and they say I've done wrong." 

"Go gather around you a crowd of young cowboys, 
And tell them the story of this, my sad fate; 
Tell one and the other before they go further 
To stop their wild roving before 'tis too late." 

"Oh muffle your drums, then play your fifes merrily 
Play the Dead March as you go along 
And fire your guns right over my coffin, 
There goes an unfortunate boy to his home." 

"It was once in the saddle I used to go dashing 
Once in the saddle I used to go gay, 
First down to the dram-house and then to the card house 
Got shot in the breast, I am dying today." 

"Get six jolly cowboys to carry my coffin, 
Get six pretty maidens to carry my pall, 
Put bunches of roses all over my coffin, 
Put roses to deaden the clods as they fall." 

"Then swing your rope slowly, and rattle your spurs lowly, 
And give a wild whoop as you carry me along, 
And in the grave throw me and roll the sod o'er me 
For I'm a young cowboy and I know I've done wrong."

 "Go bring me a cup, a cup of cold water 
To cool my parched lips," the cowboy said; 
Before I turned, the spirit had left him 
And gone to its Giver --- the cowboy was dead. 

We beat the drum slowly and played the fife lowly, 
And bitterly wept as we bore him along, 
For we all loved our comrade, so brave, young and handsome, 
We all loved our comrade although he'd done wrong.

Sweet Betsey from Pike

Oh, don't you remember sweet Betsey from Pike,
Who crossed the big mountains with her husband Ike,
With two yoke of cattle, a large yellow dog,
A tall shanghai rooster and one spotted hog.

(chorus)
Too-ral lal loo-ral lal loo-ral lal la
Too-ral lal loo-ral lal loo-ral lal la

One evening quite early they camped on the Platte,
'Twas near by the road on a green shady flat'
Where Betsey, sore footed, lay down to repose,
With wonder Ike gazed on that Pike County rose!

Their wagon broke down with a terrible crash,
And out on the prairie rolled all kinds of trash,
A few little baby clothes done up with care,
'Twas rather suspicious to all on the square.

The shanghai ran off and their cattle all died,
That morning the last piece of bacon was fried.
Poor Ike was discouraged and Betsey got mad,
The dog drooped his tail and looked wondrously sad.

They stopped in Salt Lake to inquire the way,
When Brigham declared that sweet Betsey should stay;
But Betsey got frightened and ran like a deer
While Brigham stood pawing the ground like a steer.

They soon reached the desert, where Betsey gave out,
And down in the sand she lay rolling about;
While Ike, half distracted, looked on in surprise,
Saying, "Betsey get up, you'll get sand in your eyes."

Sweet Betsey got up in a great deal of pain,
Declared she'd go back to Pike County again;
But Ike gave a sigh and they fondly embraced,
And the traveled along with his arms 'round her waste.

They suddenly stopped on a very high hill,
With wonder looked down on old Placerville;
Ike sighed when he said, and he cast his eyes down,
"Sweet Betsey, my darling, we've got to Hangtown."

Long Ike and Sweet Betsey attended a dance;
Ike wore a pair of his Pike County pants;
Sweet Betsey was covered with ribbons and rings;
Say Ike, "You're an angel but where are your wings?"

A miner said "Betsey, will you dance with me?"
"I will that, you old hoss, if you don't make too free;
But don't dance me too hard, do you want to know why?
Dog gone you, I'm chock full of strong alkali!"

This Pike County couple got married of course,
And Ike became jealous, obtained a divorce.
Sweet Betsey, well satisfied, said with a shout,
"Good bye, you big lummox, I'm glad you've backed out!" 

T

Tall Men Riding

Oh, the high hawk knows where the rabbit goes,
and the buzzard marks the kill
But few there be with eyes to see the tall men riding still
We hark in vain on the speeding train
for an echo of hoof beat thunder
And the yellow wheat is a winding sheet
for cattle trails plowed under

Hoof dust flies at the low moon's rise
and the bullbat's lonesome whir
Is an echoed note from the longhorn throat of a steer,
in the days that were
Inch by inch, time draws the cinch,
till the saddle will creak no more
And they who were lords of the cattle hordes
have tallied their final score

This is the song that the night birds
sing as the phantom herds trail by
Horn by horn where the long plains fling
flat miles to the Texas sky
And this is the song that the night birds wail
where the Texas plains lie wide
Over the dust of a ghostly trail
where the phantom tall men ride

Tumbling Tumbleweeds

I'm a roaming cowboy riding all day long,
Tumbleweeds around me sing their lonely song.
Nights underneath the prairie moon,
I ride along and sing this tune.

See them tumbling down
Pledging their love to the ground
Lonely but free I'll be found
Drifting along with the tumbling tumbleweeds.

Cares of the past are behind
Nowhere to go but I'll find
Just where the trail will wind
Drifting along with the tumbling tumbleweeds.

I know when night has gone
That a new world's born at dawn.

I'll keep rolling along
Deep in my heart is a song
Here on the range I belong
Drifting along with the tumbling tumbleweeds.

U

Utah Carol

You ask me why, my little friend, I am so quiet and still; 
And why a frown sits on my brow like a storm cloud on a hill 
Rein in your pony closer, I'll tell to you a tale Of Utah Carroll, 
my partner, and his last ride on the trail. 

In the land of Mexico in the place from whence I came, 
In silence sleeps my partner in a grave without a name. 
We rode the trail together and worked cows side by side, 
Oh, I loved him like a brother, and I wept when Utah died. 

We were rounding up one morning, our work was nearly done. 
When off the cattle started on a wild frightened run. 
Now the boss's little daughter was holding in that side. 
She rushed to turn the cattle,'twas there my partner died. 

In the saddle of the pony where the boss's daughter sat, 
Utah that very morning had placed a red blanket 
That the saddle might be easier for his little friend, 
But the blanket that he placed there brought my partner's life to an end. 

When Leonora rushed in to turn the cattle, her pony gave a bound 
And the blanket slipped from beneath her and went trailing on the ground. 
Now there's nothing on a cow ranch that will make the cattle fight 
As quick as some red object would just within their sight. 

When the cattle saw the blanket there trailing on the ground 
They were maddened in a moment and they charged it with a bound. When we cowboys saw what had happened, everyone just held our breath 
For if her pony failed her, none could save Leonora from death. 

When Leonora saw the cattle, she quickly turned her face. 
And leaned from out her saddle, caught the blanket back in place 
But in leaning lost her balance, fell before that maddened tide 
"Lie still, Leonora, I'm coming dear," were the words old Utah cried.

 About fifteen yards behind her Utah came riding fast.
 I little thought that moment that ride would be his last. 
The horse approached the maiden with sure feet and steady bounds And he leaned from out the saddle to catch her from the ground. 

In falling from her pony, she dragged the blanket down, 
And it lay there beside her where she lay upon the ground. 
As he leaned to reach Leonora and to catch her in his arms 
I thought my partner successful and Leonora safe from harm. 

But such weight upon the cinches, they never had felt before, 
His hind cinch burst asunder, and he fell beside Leonore. 
Utah picked up the blanket, "Lie still again," he said. 
And he ran across the prairie and waved the blanket over his head. 

And thus he turned the cattle from Leonora his little friend, 
And as the cattle rushed upon him, he turned to meet his end. 
And quickly from his scabbard, Utah his pistol drew. 
He was bound to fight while dying, like a cowboy brave and true. 

His pistol flashed like lightning, the reports rang loud and clear 
As the cattle pinned down on him, he dropped the leading steer 
But they kept right on coming, my partner had to fall. 
No more he will cinch the bronco or give the cattle call. 

And when at last we reached him, there on the ground he lay, 
With cuts and wounds and bruises, his life-blood oozing away 
Oh, I tell you what, little one, it was most awful hard 
I could not ride the distance in time to save my pard. 

As I knelt down by him I knew his life was o'er, 
But I heard him faintly murmur, "Lie still, I am coming, Leonora, 
Twas on one Sunday morning, I heard the parson say, 
"I don't think your young partner will be lost on that great day.
" He was just a poor young cowboy, maybe a little wild. 
But God won't be too hard on a man who died to save a child.

V

W

When the Bloom is on the Sage

For most people there's a spot that lives forever,
Deep within their fondest memories.
Tho' I have been a rover I have never
Seen anyplace that I would rather be than---

When it's roundup time in Texas and the bloom is on the sage
How I long to be in Texas just a ridin' on the range
I can smell the bacon frying, hear it sizzlin' in the pan,
Hear the breakfast horn in the early morn drinkin' coffee from a can.

Just a ridin', rockin', ropin', poundin' leather all day long,
Just a seatin', swearin', smokin', listen to a cowboy song.
Though I know I'll never go there, I would work for any wage,
To be again, be free again, where the bloom is on the sage.

When it's roundup time in Texas and the bloom is on the sage,
How I long to be in Texas just a ridin' on the range.
Those purple hills are calling, calling to me from afar,
I'm back again to the Rio Grande and the lonely Texas star.

How I long to be living where the prairie flowers grow,
I'd be willing to start walking to the place that I love so.
It beacons and I reckon I would work for any wage,
To be again, be free again, where the bloom is on the sage.

When the Works All Done This Fall

A group of jolly cowboys discussing plans at ease,
Says one: "I'll tell you something, if you will listen please;
I am an old cowpuncher and here I'm dressed in rags,
And I used to be a tough one and take on great big jags.

"But I have got a home, boys, a good one you all know;
Although I have not seen it since long, long ago.
I'm going back home, boys, once more to see them all;
Yes, I'm going to see my mother when the works all done this fall.

"When I left home, boys,  my mother for me cried,
Begged me not to go, boys, for me she would have died;
My mothers heart is breaking, breaking for me that's all
And with Gods help I'll see her when the works all done this fall.

That very night this cowboy went out to stand his guard;
The night was dark and cloudy, and storming very hard;
The cattle they got frightened, and rushed in wild stampede,
The cowboy tried to head them, riding at full speed.

While riding in the darkness so loudly he did shout,
Trying his best to beat them and turn the herd about;
His saddle horse did stumble, and on him did fall;
The poor boy won't see his mother when the works all done this fall.

They picked him up so gently and laid him on a bed;
His body was so mangled the boys all thought him dead;
He opened wide his blue eyes and looking all around,
He motioned to his comrades to sit near him on the ground.

"Boys, send my mother my wages, the wages I have earned,
For I am afraid, boys, my last steer I have turned.
I am headed for a new range, I hear my Master call,
And I'll not wee my mother when the works all done this fall.

"Fred, you take my saddle; George you take my bed;
Bill you take my pistol after I am dead.
And think upon me kindly when you look upon them all,
For I'll not see my mother when the works all done this fall."

Charlie was buried at sunrise, no tombstone at his head,
Nothing but a little board, and this is what it said:
"Charlie died at daybreak, he died from a fall,
And he'll not see his mother when the works all done this fall."

X

Y

Yellow Rose of Texas


The Yellow Rose of Texas was a woman fair to see
Though many loved her beauty, she lived in slavery,
When war was fought in Texas and the battles shook our lives
General Santa Anna took Emily as a prize.

Cho: She's the sweetest rose of color that Texas ever knew
Her eyes are bright as diamonds, they sparkle like the dew,
You may talk about your Clementine, And sing of Rosa Lee
But the Yellow Rose of Texas is the only girl for me.

He tried to win her favors, thought himself a dashing man
But his courtship she rejected, and she stole his battle plan;
Then sent it to Sam Houston, for this she found a way
And so the Union Army fought and won the day.

Where the Rio Grande is flowing lived a woman brave and fine
A heroine of the people and honored in her time
The Yellow Rose of Texas has long been laid to rest
But history would be different without the lovely Emily West

Z

Zebra Dun

 We was camped on the plains at the head of the Cimmaron 
When along comes a stranger and stopped to argue some, 
Well he looked so very foolish when he begun to look around
 For he seemed just like a greenhorn just escaped from town. 

We asked him had he been to chuck, he said he hadn't a smear, 
So we opened up the chuckbox and said he could eat right here, 
Well he filled up on some coffee and some biscuits and some beans And started right in talking about the foreign kings and queens. 

All about the foreign wars on the land and on the seas 
With guns as big as steers, and ramrods big as trees. 
About a feller named Paul Jones, a fightin' son of a gun 
A fighter and the grittiest cuss that ever packed a gun.

 Such an educated feller, his thoughts just come in herds,
 He astonished all them cowboys with his highfalutin' words 
Well the stranger kept on talkin' till the boys they all got sick 
And begun to look around to see if they could play a trick. 

Well, he said he'd lost his job up on the Santa Fe 
He was goin' 'cross the plains to for to hit the Seven D;
 He didn't say how come it, just some trouble with the boss 
But asked if he could borrow a fat saddle horse. 

Well, this tickled all the boys to death, we laughed way down our sleeves 
We said we'd give him a fine horse, as fresh and fat as you please. 
So Shorty grabbed his lariat and he roped the Zebra Dun 
And we give him to the stranger and waited for the fun. 

Now old Dunny was an outlaw, he'd grown so awful wild
He could paw the moon down, he could jump a mile; 
Old Dunny stood right still there, like as he didn't know 
Till the stranger had him saddled and ready for to go. 

When the stranger hit the saddle, then old Dun he quit the earth, 
And started travelin' upwards for all that he was worth, 
A-yellin' and a-squealin' and a-having wall-eyed fits 
His front feet perpendicular, his hind feet in the bits. 

We could see the tops of mountains under Dunny every jump 
But the stranger he was glued there just like the camel's hump; 
The stranger he just sat there, and twirled his black moustache, 
Just like a summer boarder waitin' for the hash. 

Well he thumped him in the shoulders and he spun him when he whirled, 
And hollered to them cowboys, "I'm the wolf of the world!" 
And when he had dismounted and once more upon the ground, 
We knew he was a thoroughbred and not a dud from town. 

The boss he was a-standin' there just watchin' of the show 
Walked over to the stranger and said, "You needn't go. 
If you can use a lariat like you rode old Zebra Dun 
You're the man I've been looking for since the Year of One!" 

And when the herd stampeded he was always on the spot, 
And set them off to nothing, like the boiling of a pot. 
Well, there's one thing and a shore thing I've learned since I've been born 
Every educated feller ain't a plumb greenhorn.

  ______________________________________________________

Cowboy Songs Index   Cowboy Songs 1   Cowboy Songs 2

Cowboy Songs 3    Cowboy Songs 4    Cowboy Songs  5    Cowboy Songs 6

We ask that researchers approach the materials in this collection with respect for the culture and sensibilities of the people whose lives, ideas, and creativity are documented here. Researchers are also reminded that privacy and publicity rights may pertain to certain uses of this material.

As is often the case with materials collected in the course of ethnographic field research, it is difficult or impossible to sufficiently identify specific tunes performed by participants, which precludes performing a comprehensive assessment of the copyright status of underlying musical rights in compositions. We believe that most, if not all, of the works in this collection are in the public domain. Users are reminded that they must make their own assessment of copyrights or other rights (or absence of such rights) in the context of their intended use.

The nature of historical archival collections means that copyright or other information about restrictions may be difficult or even impossible to determine. Whenever possible, this site provides information about copyright owners and other restrictions on the individual song pages. We provide this information as a service to aid users in determining the appropriate use of an item, but that determination ultimately rests with the user.

Copyright © 2006 Lone Hand Western.