Monday, November 17, 2008

Cowboy songs...

Tonight, I feel like hearing some cowboy songs, songs that take you away to the open plains and the foothills, trail songs, horses, pickup trucks, honky tonks....

Let's start with the late Don Walser, the Pavarotti of the Plains, singing Cowpoke. Walser was a singer dedicated to country and western, western swing and the cowboy song. Here's a clip featuring Ian Tyson singing Summer Wages. It also has a nice little interview, in which he talks about writing Four Strong Winds. Here's Mr. Tyson again with his ballad about Charles M. Russell, the American painter, who painted Montana...a story every cowpoke knows.

Listen to Tom Waits singing one of my favourite cowboy songs, The Goodnight Loving Trail, written by the late great Utah Phillips. This song is about the "old woman" on the trail, the cowboy too old to ride, relegated to the job of cook and doctor, who can "cure everything but your own goddamn stew". The Goodnight-Loving Trail ran from Young County, Texas, southwest to Horsehead Crossing on the Pecos River, up the Pecos to Fort Sumner, New Mexico, and on north to Colorado. In the spring and early summer of 1866 Charles Goodnight and Oliver Loving drove their first herd of longhorn cattle over the Butterfield Overland Mail route from near Fort Belknap via the Middle Concho River and Castle Gap, to Horsehead (on some old maps marked Dead Horse) Crossing. Leaving the former mail route there, they worked up the Pecos, crossing it from time to time as the terrain and watering places required. They drove a second herd, bought from John S. Chisum,from his Concho River range to Fort Sumner later that same summer.

The Goodnight Loving Trail
With your snake oil and herbs and Your liniment, too,
You can do anything that a doctor can do,
Except find a cure for your own goddamn stew.

The cook-fire's out and the coffee's all gone,
The boys are up and we're raising the dawn,
You're still sitting there all lost in a song.

I know someday that I'll be just the same,
Wearing an apron instead of a name,
But no one can change it and no one's to blame.

'Cause the desert's a book wrote in lizards and sage,
It's easy to look like an old torn-out page,
All faded and cracked with the colors of age.

Here's another fine version of the same tune by Willy Sunday.

Let's go back to Alberta and listen to Corb Lund singing The Truck got Stuck. Here's Mr. Lund again with The Hurtin Albertans, playing the Wilf Carter tune, Love knot in my Lariot.

I'd like to go out with Don Edwards, singing Little Joe the Wrangler at the 24th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

1 comment:

Candy Minx said...

Nice stuff. We're down with colds...head ache can't blog...good music felt nice to hear though!