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Lyr Req: It's My Night to Howl (cowboy)

Artful Codger 06 Jul 09 - 10:21 PM
kendall 07 Jul 09 - 05:59 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 07 Jul 09 - 02:41 PM
Artful Codger 07 Jul 09 - 02:58 PM
kendall 07 Jul 09 - 03:06 PM
Artful Codger 07 Jul 09 - 04:09 PM
GUEST,leeneia 07 Jul 09 - 05:03 PM
Jim Dixon 12 Jul 09 - 11:41 PM
open mike 13 Jul 09 - 12:07 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 13 Jul 09 - 09:06 PM
GUEST,Jtt 26 Jan 16 - 06:54 PM
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Subject: Lyr Req: It's My Night to Howl (cowboy)
From: Artful Codger
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 10:21 PM

I'm looking for lyrics for the authentic cowboy song (or recitation) "It's My Night to Howl". Despite the length of this post, so far I've only found bits and pieces, and no tune.

Please do NOT post information in this thread for modern compositions of the same general name, such as:
  • The 1934 Lorenz and Hart song "My Night to Howl", from the musical A Connecticut Yankee.

  • The bluegrass song "It's My Night to Howl", which begins "Well, I've been working all week long".
  • The song sung by Ray Charles which begins "When the church bells sound my plight" (or "There's a marital knot, and at noon I'll tie it").
  • Lorrie Morgan's song "My Night to Howl", which begins "There's a good time moon on the rise tonight."
  • Instead, please start separate threads, since they aren't really related to the song this thread should concern.

    It appears to have begun as a series of boasts or challenges. These were formed into a recitation and then into a song. These are the citations I've been able to turn up.

    In his modern book The French Quarter, Herbert Asbury describes a typical exchange of boasts preceding an (organized?) fight among bargemen in the early 1800's:
       "I'm a child of the snapping-turtle!"
       "I was raised with the alligators and weaned on panther's milk!"
       "I can outrun, outjump, outshoot, throw down, drag out, and lick any man in the country!"
       "I'm a roaring rip-snorter and chock-full of fight!"
       "I'm a pizen wolf from Bitter Creek and this is my night to howl!"
       "I can wrastle a buffalo and chaw the ear off a grizzly!"

    Vol P.Mooney published an account of a murder which happened in Towanda in the fall of 1872, in History of Butler County, Kansas (1916). The account included this passage:
    Griffith turned and walked back to the rear of the store, wanting someone to test his strength, and again approached Bradshaw and said, "John, I can throw you over my head with one hand. I am a trantler from Bitter Creek, the further up you go, the worse they get. I am from right at the head waters. I am a coyote and it's my night to howl. Look at me. Look me in the eye!" All this time dancing and capering around him in the best of humor and endeavoring to and thinking he was having a high old time. [italics mine]
    On 21 Nov. 1877, The New York Times ran a review of a lecture at Chickering Hall given by Henry Watterson titled "Whimsicalities, Comicalities, and Realities of Southern Life". Watterson quoted this bit of boasting among Southerners:
    I am a fighter from Bitter Creek, I am a wolf, and this is my night to howl. I have three rows of teeth, and no two teeth are alike. Folks on Bitter Creek are bad, and the highter up you go, the worse they are. I am from the head waters...
    He repeated this in slightly different form in an article he wrote for The Century, "Oddities of Souther Life" (1881 or 82).
    I wish to introduce here a lower order--to talk of the comicalities and whimsicalities of Southern life, embodied in the exploits of the "howling raccoon of the mountains" and the musings of the epic hero who, describing himself, said: "I am a fighter from Bitter Creek; I'm a wolf, and this is my night to howl. I've three rows of front teeth, and nary tooth alike. The folks on Bitter Creek are bad; the higher up you go, the wuss they are; and I'm from the head-waters."
    Chambers's Journal published an article titled "The Texan Cowboy: His life in town, on the trail, and on the ranche" which began:
    "Guests will please remove their pistols before entering the dining-room,' was the sign which met your eye as you stepped into the office of any of the hotels in Abilene, Kansas, in the early days when that town was the headquarters of the Texas cattle-trade for the United States.--"I'm a wolf, and it's my night to howl! I'm a bucking cayuse from Bitter Creek, wild and woolly and hard to curry! Whoop-pee! Every one take a drink!" were the words you could have heard uttered by some tipsy cowboy in any of the numerous drinking saloons in the same town almost any day or night during the season; and very often these words would be followed by shots from his revolvers, pointed in the air--just for the sake of hearing a noise, you know. [italics mine]
    George Newcomb, a member of the Doolin/Dalton gang, acquired the moniker "Bitter Creek" by frequently singing "I'm a wild wolf [or bad dog] from Bitter Creek and it's my night to howl." He was known by this name at least by 1893, when he was involved in the notorious Wild Bunch shoot-out in Ingalls, Oklahoma. This is the first clear mention I've found of this line in song form, but most accounts call it an "old cowboy song".

    In 1893, the line also occurs in Burton Harrison's book Sweet Bells Out of Tune, as a boast.

    In Owen Wister's novel The Virginian (1902), a bunch of cowboys are gathered in the caboose of a train, and one recites "And it's my night to howl". Wister quotes part of the recitation:
       "I'm wild, and woolly, and full of peas;
       I'm hard to curry above the knees;
       I'm a she-wolf from Bitter Creek, and
       It's my night to ho-o-wl--"
    This is the first instance I've found of the boast in verse form.

    Roger S. Pocock included the boast in elaborated form in at least three of his works. In Curly: a tale of the Arizone Desert (1903) a cowboy says, "I'm a wolf. I come from Bitter Creek. The higher up, the worse the waters, and I'm from the source, and it's my night to how-w-1. Yow-ow-ow!" In A Frontiersman (1904) it's, "I'm a wolf, and it's my night to howl! I'm a bad man! I come from Bitter Creek - the higher up the worse the waters, and I'm from the source - Yeou-ou-u!" And in The Cheerful Blackguard (1914) it's, "Oh, hang my collar on the chandelier while I sweat! Me pants is split from ear to ear, and it's my night to how-w-1! Yow- ow-w!"

    The first complete song I've found is attributed to Tim McCoy, who went from being a cowboy to being a circus berformer, star of his own wild west show, author and matinee movie star. Since it's probably copyrighted, I'll only give the first line: "Clear the trail, you short-horn pilgrims, hunt your hole or climb a tree."

    Finally, in the screenplay for the film Pretty Baby (1978, starring Keith Carradine, Susan Sarandon and Brooke Shields) this verse appears:
       Well, I am the child of a snapping turtle.
       Raised by alligators on panther's milk.
       I'm a poisoned wolf from Bitter Creek,
       and tonight's my night to howl!


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    Subject: RE: Lyr Req: It's My Night to Howl (cowboy)
    From: kendall
    Date: 07 Jul 09 - 05:59 AM

    Wilf Carter (Montana Slim) sang one with that line in it.


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    Subject: Lyr. Add: The Drunken Desperado
    From: Q (Frank Staplin)
    Date: 07 Jul 09 - 02:41 PM

    Lyr. Add: THE DRUNKEN DESPERADO
    Credited to Baird Boyd

    I'm wild and woolly and full of fleas,
    I'm hard to curry below the knees,
    I'm a she-wolf from Shamon Creek,
    For I was dropped from a lightning streak
    and it's my night to hollow Whoo-pee!
    2
    I stayed in Texas till they runned me out,
    Then in Bull Frog they chased me about,
    I walked a little and rode some more,
    For I've shot up a town before
    And it's my night to holler Whoo-pee!
    3
    Give me room and turn me loose
    I'm peaceable without excuse.
    I never killed for profit or fun,
    But riled, I'm a regular son of a gun
    And it's my night to holler Whoo-pee!
    4
    Good-eye Jim will serve the crowd;
    The rule goes here no sweetenin' 'lowed.
    And we'll drink now to the Nixon Kid,
    For I rode to town and lifted the lid
    And it's my night to holler Whoo-pee!
    5
    You can guess how quick a man must be,
    For I killed eleven and wounded three;
    And brothers and daddies aren't making a sound
    Though they know where the kid is found
    And it's my night to holler Whoo-pee!
    6
    When I get old and my aim ain't true
    And it's three to one and wounded too,
    I won't beg and claw the ground;
    For I'll be dead before I'm found
    When it's my night to holler Whoo-pee!

    Copied some time ago from
    "Songs of the Cattle Trail and Cow Camp," 1919, John A. Lomax, pp. 43-44.
    This from a typed copy, may be an error or so.

    I vaguely recall the song from long ago, but not sure it was the same. There may be better versions out there.

    Other notes-

    Hiram College yell-

    Hootin', rootin', goin' shootin',
    Sons o' guns o' Hiram.
    Wild and woolly and full of fleas,
    Never been curried below the knees,
    Haltered once but never rode,
    Look out for us, we're bad!

    http://library.hiram.edu/BooksandBytes3-6.pdf

    Another line used was ring-tailed son-of-a-bitch.
    One of the old dime novels credited Davy Crockett with saying something about rding alligators, etc.


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    Subject: RE: Lyr Req: It's My Night to Howl (cowboy)
    From: Artful Codger
    Date: 07 Jul 09 - 02:58 PM

    Wilf Carter's cut is "It's a Cowboy's Night to Howl", from ...Sounds Like Jimmie Rodgers. From the clip, it sounds radio-cowboy in structure.


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    Subject: RE: Lyr Req: It's My Night to Howl (cowboy)
    From: kendall
    Date: 07 Jul 09 - 03:06 PM

    I'll bet Glen Orlin knows it.


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    Subject: RE: Lyr Req: It's My Night to Howl (cowboy)
    From: Artful Codger
    Date: 07 Jul 09 - 04:09 PM

    Q: Thanks for finding that. Real close to the Lomax text; the few differences are cosmetic (most notably, "hollow" throughout instead of "holler").

    The 1919 edition of Lomax can be found online at Google Books (scan) or at www.traditionalmusic.co.uk (OCR transcription; site unreachable at the moment).


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    Subject: RE: Lyr Req: It's My Night to Howl (cowboy)
    From: GUEST,leeneia
    Date: 07 Jul 09 - 05:03 PM

    Thanks, Q. That's real interesting.


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    Subject: RE: Lyr Req: It's My Night to Howl (cowboy)
    From: Jim Dixon
    Date: 12 Jul 09 - 11:41 PM

    "I am a fighter from Bitter Creek; I'm a wolf, and this is my night to howl. I've three rows of front teeth, and nary tooth alike. The folks on Bitter Creek are bad; the higher up you go, the wuss they are; and I'm from the head-waters."
    —from The Century: A Popular Quarterly, 1882, page 885.

    "I'm a wolf, and it's my night to howl! I'm a bucking cayuse from Bitter Creek, wild and woolly and hard to curry! Whoop-pee! Everyone take a drink!"
    —from Ballou's Monthly Magazine, 1888, page 405.

    "Yip eech! I'm a mule an' my brother's a horse! Yow! I'm Rorin' Red Rube, the Renegade o' the Rockies! I'm put together with brass rivets an' my tail goes on with a screw! Keep yip! I'm on it bigger'n an Injun, an' it's my night to howl! Yow! Wow! Kee yow!"
    —from Book notes: a monthly literary magazine and review of new books, 1899, page 186.


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    Subject: RE: Lyr Req: It's My Night to Howl (cowboy)
    From: open mike
    Date: 13 Jul 09 - 12:07 AM

    I just read a book on the wild west (Deadwood by Pete Dexter) and he has his character Calamity Jane say (as she let go an eagle scream)
    "I am a screamin' eagle from Bitter Creek, the further you go, the bitterer it gets, and I'm from the head end. Now git before I shoot the toes off your feet"


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    Subject: RE: Lyr Req: It's My Night to Howl (cowboy)
    From: Q (Frank Staplin)
    Date: 13 Jul 09 - 09:06 PM

    "Ring-tailed Roarer" appeared in "The Fight," by Augustus Longstreet, in "Georgia Scenes," 1835.

    In some versions of the rant, it's "I'm a ring-tailed roarer, and it's my night....."
    The half-hoss-half aligator line was used in minstrel sons, c. 1835, versions of Pompey Smash routines.


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    Subject: RE: Lyr Req: It's My Night to Howl (cowboy)
    From: GUEST,Jtt
    Date: 26 Jan 16 - 06:54 PM

    I'm old and shaggy and full of fleas
    I'm hard to curry above the knees
    I'm an old she-wolf from the Caribees
    And it's MY night to howl - AWOOOOOO!


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