The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #101527   Message #2048036
Posted By: GUEST,Bob Coltman
10-May-07 - 10:26 AM
Thread Name: Robbins School Songbooks, 1930s-50s
Subject: Index: American Cowboy Songs (Robbins)
Scene: my one-room schoolhouse circa 1944-5. Teacher: Mrs. Rickert, a large and capable lady who taught with great authority, usually kindly, but no slouch in a pinch. She once picked up Steve, a big kid who'd been "left back" and was causing trouble in class, by his shirt and shook him, all must-be-90 pounds of him -- an astonishing feat that made the classroom quiet as the grave.

Having been provided by Mrs. Rickert with free copies of SONGS FOR AMERICA that we all could take home and keep at the end of the school year, we were informed that if we liked, we could send off for copies of other songbooks in the series through the school. But this time we ourselves would have to pay the copy cost -- a whopping 35 cents!!! almost broke my budget for the month. The school would send the order from our rural Pennsylvania dirt-road nowhere to that great unimaginable mystery barely dreamt-of, Robbins Music Corp. in faraway New York.

Well, this little budding cowpuncher, ukulele fool-arounder and Roy Rogers fan paid his exorbitant fee and received by hand from Mrs. Rickert a couple of weeks later his own personal copy of AMERICAN COWBOY SONGS, Enlarged Edition, Copyright 1936, Edited by Hugo Frey -- the first songbook I ever owned. It was a stunner, for a popularly sold collection, and still is.

In fact this might just be the best folksong collection ever put out by Tin Pan Alley. It is a masterly survey of genuine traditional cowboy songs with a few straight folk items, also a couple of novelties and a half dozen cowboy pop standards that had sold a lot of sheet music and records. The compiler, Hugo Frey, obviously had done his homework in the Lomaxes' Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads, as periodically enlarged from its original 1910 edition. Obviously the then current radio and film popularity of Gene Autry, the Sons of the Pioneers et al. had made a market.

Dig this table of contents, from my tattered, much used and loved-to-death copy. It expanded my sketchy folk song repertoire by about 900 percent:

A Prisoner For Life
Along a Texas Trail

Bad Companions
Big Corral
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Billy Venero
Brown-Eyed Lee
Buffalo Skinners
Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie

Chicken Reel
County Jail
Cowboy, The
Cowboy's Dream
Cowboy's Lament
Curtains of Night

Dreary Black Hills
Dreary, Dreary Life
Dying Cowboy
Dying Ranger

Fuller and Warren

Gal I Left Behind Me
Ghost of Jim Lane
Good Bye Old Paint
Great Grandad

Hand Me Down My Walkin' Cane
Hear the Wind Blow [Down in the Valley, of course]
Home On the Range

I Wish I Was Single
I'm An Old Cowhand (From the Rio Grande)
I've Been Wukkin' On De Railroad
In the Days of Forty-Nine
Indian's Death Song [The son of Alk-no-Mook shall never complain, etc.]

Jack O'Diamonds
Jesse James

Last Long Trail
Leanin' On the Ole Top Rail
Li'l Liza Jane
Little Old Sod Shanty On My Claim
Lonesome Cowboy

My Love Is a Rider

Night Herding Song

Oh! Dem Golden Slippers
Old Chisholm Trail
Only a Cowboy

Quilting Party

Railroad Corral
Red River Valley
Riding Song [Draw near young man and learn from me / My sad and mournful tale / And don't forget this history / Or you will land in jail]
Rio Grande, The [Oh, the Rio Grande is flowing, / And the starry skies are bright etc.]
Roll Along Prairie Moon
'Round Her Neck She Wears a Yeller Ribbon

Sam Bass
She'll Be Comin' 'Round the Mountain
Shoo Fly!
Sweet Betsy From Pike

Take Me Back To Col-ler-rad-da Fer to Stay
Ten Thousand Cattle
Tenderfoot, The
Trail to Mexico
Turkey In the Straw

Utah Carroll

When It's Springtime in the Rockies
When I Was a Boy From the Mountains [And you were a girl from the hills]
When I Was Young and Foolish [I never dodged a fight]
When the Moon Comes Over the Mountain [Kate Smith's theme hit was the first song in the book]
When the Work's All Done This Fall
Whoo-pee Ti Yi Yo
Windy Bill

Yellow Rose of Texas

Zebra Dun