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Dale Rose Help: Cowboy Songbooks Preservation Project (30) RE: Help: Cowboy Songbooks Preservation Project 17 Feb 01


Quotation from Warren Miller in the Prescott (Arizona) Daily Courier, who got his information from Gail Gardner:

Gail Gardner and Curley Fletcher met in Prescott in the 1930s and found they had something important in common: They had both had poems pirated by "Powder River" Jack Lee, a cowboy singer from Montana.

Lee had made records of Fletcher's "Strawberry Roan" and of Gardner's "Tyin' Knots in the Devil's Tail" and claimed to have written both poems.

My personal collection of cowboy poetry includes a copy of Jack Lee's book, "The Stampede," published about 1935, which includes Lee's version of "Tyin Knots..." Curley Fletcher told Gail that "that skunk Powder River Jack" was in Phoenix with his wife, performing at a hotel.

They went down together, found Lee, and roughed him up some. "But," Gail told me, "he didn't own anything but the shirt on his back, and neither of us wanted 'Pretty Kitty Lee' so they let him go."

Another great source of more modern vintage is The Hell-Bound Train, A Cowboy Songbook, Glenn Ohrlin, University Of Illinois Press, 1973. Glenn is a noted cowboy (the genuine article), rancher, singer, and story teller from Mountain View, Arkansas. Glenn, who knew all three men in the story above, credits Fletcher for Strawberry Roan and Gardner for Sierry Petes/Tyin' Knots, by the way. If you can't buy a used copy of Glenn's book, check your local library. His book was the source I used for Platonia a few weeks back.


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