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Origins: Cowboy Jack/Just a Lonely Cowboy

GUEST,murrbob 11 Jan 10 - 11:59 PM
GUEST,Q as guest 12 Jan 10 - 01:37 PM
GUEST,Q as guest. 12 Jan 10 - 02:04 PM
Amos 12 Jan 10 - 02:10 PM
GUEST,Q as guest 12 Jan 10 - 02:53 PM
Artful Codger 12 Jan 10 - 08:03 PM
GUEST,Q as guest 12 Jan 10 - 09:28 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 15 Jan 10 - 08:11 PM
masato sakurai 15 Jan 10 - 09:14 PM
Artful Codger 16 Jan 10 - 12:35 AM
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Subject: Origins: Cowboy Jack/Just a Lonely Cowboy
From: GUEST,murrbob
Date: 11 Jan 10 - 11:59 PM

In the early 1940's, my dad would sing a song while driving us in our car. It began:

       There was a lonely cowboy,
       With heart both brave and true;
       He fell in love with a maiden,
       With eyes of Heaven's own blue.

   There are many verses, indelibly etched in my memory, but I can't find the origin of the song. Law collected it in his 1964 book,"Native American Balladry." He cites a couple singing it to him in 1954; obviously, it originated prior to that.
   Any help would be greatly appreciated -- a very nostalgic song!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cowboy Jack/Just a Lonely Cowboy
From: GUEST,Q as guest
Date: 12 Jan 10 - 01:37 PM

The song is Cowboy Jack
I will check for a thread. If not found I will post the lyrics here.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cowboy Jack/Just a Lonely Cowboy
From: GUEST,Q as guest.
Date: 12 Jan 10 - 02:04 PM

The song is in the DT. Enter cowboy jack in Lyrics search.

The song as sung by B. F. Anderson may be heard in the Wolf Folklore Collection.

Cowboy Jack


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cowboy Jack/Just a Lonely Cowboy
From: Amos
Date: 12 Jan 10 - 02:10 PM

He was just a lonely cowboy
With a heart so brave and true
And he learned to love a maiden
With eyes of Heaven's own blue

They learned to love each other
As they named their wedding day
When a quarrel came between them
And Jack, he rode away

He joined a band of cowboys
And tried to forget her name
And out on the lonely prairie
She waits for him the same

One night when work was finished
Just at the close of day
Someone said sing a song Jack
T'will drive those cares away

When Jack began his singing
His mind, it wandered back
For he sang of a maiden
Who was waiting for her Jack

Jack left the camp next morning
Breathing his sweetheart's name
He said I'll ask forgiveness
For I know that I'm to blame

But when he reached the prairie
He found a new made mound
And his friends they sadly told him
That they laid his loved one down

They said as she was dying
She breathed her sweetheart's name
And asked them with her last breath
To tell Jack when he came

Your sweetheart waits for you, Jack
Your sweetheart waits for you
Out on the lonely prairie
Where the skys are always blue


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cowboy Jack/Just a Lonely Cowboy
From: GUEST,Q as guest
Date: 12 Jan 10 - 02:53 PM

Somewhere there is a thread with information on this song.

It is descended from Your Mother Still Waits For You, Jack, 1893.
(Q, cookie lost, strayed or stolen.)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cowboy Jack/Just a Lonely Cowboy
From: Artful Codger
Date: 12 Jan 10 - 08:03 PM

It was a Carter Family adaptation from the 30's; check the Carter Family sources threads for more information. My brief notes, gleaned from Charles Wolfe and the sources thread (info from Q?) say:

Sara [Carter] thought they learned it off a Victrola record. Cowboy Jack Laws B24: was first published in the 1928 Songs of the Open Range. It was recorded three times in 1929 first by Marc Williams for Brunswick. The earliest recording was Jack Mathis for Columbia. The song actually is a rewrite of "Your Mother Prays for You Jack" by F.M. Eliot in 1893. [Note the difference in title from what Q gave above, though my notes may be wrong.]

Having no access to the original sheet music, collection or recordings mentioned, I can't guess to what extent the Carters modified the song, but their version (possibly including the tune) is still copyrighted, and the collected versions I've heard (all post-30's) stem from the Carters--caveat singor.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cowboy Jack/Just a Lonely Cowboy
From: GUEST,Q as guest
Date: 12 Jan 10 - 09:28 PM

Some notes from Guy Logsdon, 1989, The Whorehouse Bells Were Ringing, pp. 48-52; Univ. Illinois Press:

-"Cowboy Jack" first appeared in Ina Sires, 1928, Songs of the Open Range.

-"Cowboy Jack" is a variant of "Your Mother Still Prays for You, Jack," both songs were popular among Southern singers..."
Artful Codger, you are probably right about the "Your Mother ...." title, but I haven't found the old thread, and I can't remember where I got it.

"I believe that "Cowboy Jack" is a cowboy song from Arizona. Riley Neal sang his version during the morning of my first visit with him; he knew it before the Sires collection and phonorecording variants were available." Logsdon, ibid., p. 50.

Ina Sires (1928) included piano scores with her songs- same tune as Carter's??
I have Sire's book but it is loaned out, should have it back next week or two.

There is nebulous comment that the song is related to a poem by Capt. Jack Crawford. His two volumes are rare and too expensive for me. I remember them from my grandparents collection, but their library was sold off many years ago.
"Whar' the Hand O God Is Seen"
"The Poet Scout," 1886


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Subject: Lyr. Add: COWBOY JACK (in Sires, 1928)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 15 Jan 10 - 08:11 PM

Lyr. Add: Cowboy Jack
From Ina Sires, 1928

1
He was just a lonely cowboy,
With a heart so brave and true,
And he learned to love a maiden,
With eyes of heav'n's own blue.
2
They had learned to love each other,
And had named their wedding day,
When trouble came between them,
And Jack he rode away.
3
He joined a band of cowboys,
And tried to forget her name,
But out on the lonely prairie
She waits for him the same.
4
One night when work was finished,
Just at the close of day
Some one said "Sing a song, Jack,
That will drive dull care away."
5
When Jack began his singing
His mind it wandered back
For he sang of a brave true maiden
Who waited at home for him.
6
"Way out on the lonely prairie
Where the skies are always blue,
Your sweetheart waits for you, Jack,
Your sweetheart waits for you."
7
Jack left the camp next morning
Breathing his sweetheart's name,
"I'll go and ask forgiveness
For I know that I was to blame."
8
But when he reached the prairies
He found a newly-made mound
And his friends they kindly told him
They had laid his loved one down.
9
They said as she was dying
She breathed her sweetheart's name,
And said as with her last breathing
To tell him when he came:
10
"Your sweetheart waits for you Jack,
Your sweetheart waits for you;
Way out on the lonely prairie
Where the skies are always blue."

Note: "In making my collection of cowboy songs I found a few love songs. The cowboys were far removed from the influences of homes, mothers, sisters and sweethearts and their continual battling with the wilderness was not conducive to the writing of love songs. Here we have expressed the cowboys' belief in the purity and faithfulness of women. This melody was used as waltz music at dances."

Note from introduction, "Collector's Note": "My work has been lightened by the collections of Howard Thorpe and John A. Lomax. I have, however, secured my melodies directly from the cowboys, by visiting ranches, attending dances, and
riding on roundups in the western states where people still dance all night to the tune of the fiddle. I spent my early life on the ranch, so that from childhood the cowboy and his life have been familiar to me."

Pp. 12-13, with musical score, Ina Sires, 1928, Songs of the Open Range, C. C. Birchard & Co., Boston New York. "All rights reserved, including the right of radio transmission."

The tune, and most of the words, are the same as those later used by the Carter family.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cowboy Jack/Just a Lonely Cowboy
From: masato sakurai
Date: 15 Jan 10 - 09:14 PM

Crawford's books are at Internet Archive:

Whar' the hand o' God is seen and other poems (1910)

The poet scout : a book of song and story (1886)

The poet scout; being a selection of incidental and illustrative verses and songs (1879)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cowboy Jack/Just a Lonely Cowboy
From: Artful Codger
Date: 16 Jan 10 - 12:35 AM

There is also a verion at The Contemplator site, text from Laws (1940's). The MIDI is almost surreal in the way the harmony seldom syncs with the melody.

Anyone come across reference to a recording of it prior to the Carters? Sara thought they learned it from a Victrola record (though their memories for sources were often hazy.)


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