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Genuine Cowboy Songs

Mike Hayward 18 May 97 - 08:56 PM
rich r 18 May 97 - 10:54 PM
Gene Graham 18 May 97 - 11:34 PM
Barry Finn 19 May 97 - 10:23 AM
LaMarca 19 May 97 - 10:30 AM
Old Folk 20 May 97 - 12:54 AM
LaMarca 20 May 97 - 09:19 AM
dick greenhaus 20 May 97 - 12:45 PM
Mike Hayward 20 May 97 - 02:53 PM
Mrrzy 02 May 15 - 03:04 PM
Rex 04 May 15 - 11:44 AM
GUEST,Fred McCormick 04 May 15 - 12:33 PM
Lighter 04 May 15 - 12:45 PM
Stilly River Sage 04 May 15 - 03:11 PM
GUEST,Busker Joe 04 May 15 - 03:11 PM
Lighter 04 May 15 - 06:40 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 05 May 15 - 01:35 PM
Rex 05 May 15 - 01:47 PM
Amos 05 May 15 - 02:11 PM
cnd 05 May 15 - 06:28 PM
Mrrzy 06 May 15 - 01:07 PM
GUEST,Dave the Gnome 06 May 15 - 02:44 PM
GUEST,gillymor 06 May 15 - 03:10 PM
GUEST,Dave the Gnome 07 May 15 - 04:55 AM
Rex 07 May 15 - 11:12 AM
GUEST,Dave the Gnome 07 May 15 - 12:01 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 07 May 15 - 12:49 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 07 May 15 - 12:56 PM
Lighter 07 May 15 - 05:53 PM
Artful Codger 07 May 15 - 09:51 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 08 May 15 - 01:14 PM
Rex 08 May 15 - 02:59 PM
Rex 08 May 15 - 03:03 PM
GUEST,Bardford no cookie 09 May 15 - 12:39 AM
PHJim 09 May 15 - 11:24 AM
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Subject: Genuine Cowboy Songs
From: Mike Hayward
Date: 18 May 97 - 08:56 PM

I am looking for research books, recommendations and/or suggestions for songs that might have been popular with cowboys during what I consider to be the "American cowboy" era, 1875-1896. Songs sung around the campfire, songs sung to soothe the cattle herd at night, catina songs, etc. 1875-ish through 1895-ish. Thanks for your time and input. mikehayward@themall.net


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Subject: RE: Genuine Cowboy Songs
From: rich r
Date: 18 May 97 - 10:54 PM

Here are several books that could help you get going. I know there are others.

Songs Of The Cowboys by N Howard Thorp. 1921 Houghton-Mifflin (reprinted 1984, Univ. Nebraska Press)

"The Whorehouse Bells Were Ringing "and Other Songs Cowboys Sing by Guy Logsdon. 1985 Univ of Illinois Press (paperback edition 1995)

Song Of The Great American West by Irwin Silber 1967 Macmillan Company (reprinted paperback, 1995. Dover)

Cowboy And Western Songs by Austin E. & Alta S. Fife. 1969 Creative Concepts Publishing Corp.

Ten Thousand Goddam Cattle by Katie Lee. 1976 Katydid Books And Records, Jerome AZ

Songs Of The Wild West by Alan Axelrod & Dan Fox. 1991 Metropolitan Museum Of Art, New York

rich r


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Subject: RE: Genuine Cowboy Songs
From: Gene Graham
Date: 18 May 97 - 11:34 PM

"FOR A COWBOY HAS TO SING" by Jim Bob Tinsley....contains words and music to 60 of the all-time cowboy classic western songs. Around $40....

CLASSICs recorded by Gene Autry/Roy Rogers-Dale Evan/Patsy Montana/Tex Ritter/Tex Owens/Sons of the Pioneers/Stuart Hamblen..Etc...


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Subject: RE: Genuine Cowboy Songs
From: Barry Finn
Date: 19 May 97 - 10:23 AM

"American Cowboy Songs" B3-4354-R3 by the 'Big 3 Music Corp., N.Y., N.Y. 66 songs no text."The Folk Songs Of North America" by Allen Lomax,1960 pub. by Doubleday & Co., 20 cowboy songs + text."The American Songbag" by Carl Sandburg, 1957. Harvest/HBJ Books, 15 cowboy songs + little text.


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Subject: RE: Genuine Cowboy Songs
From: LaMarca
Date: 19 May 97 - 10:30 AM

Another couple good references:

The Hell-Bound Train, Glenn Orhlin, U. of Illinois Press (also available in paperback)

John Lomax's original collection of cowboy songs that became an original part of the Folk Archive of the Library of Congress has been revised and re-issued in paperback recently; don't remember the publisher, but we have it at home, so I'll look it up.

Hal Cannon, a folklorist at U. of Utah, member of "The Deseret String Band" and organizer of the Cowboy Gatherings at Elko, Utah, also has put out several recordings and books of traditional cowboy and frontier songs and cowboy poetry from the Mormons and others, both with Deseret and "The Bunkhouse Orchestra"; Camsco Music carries a few of the recordings and a tape/book combo.

There's another big compilation by Lingenfelter(sp?), but it's out of print. Again, we have it at home and I'll get the full title and publisher; you might be able to get it at a library.

This is a really well-studied body of traditional song with lots of good publications, so you should have lots of fun digging up good stuff! There have been several good CD compilations of recordings recently: one from the Smithsonian archives of field recordings on Smithsonian Folkways, a 4 volume set on Rounder (1101-1104) highlighting commercial recordings of cowboy songs from the early years in the 30's to "modern" movie cowboy singers and a 2 volume set on Yazoo (2022/23) "When I Was a Cowboy" which concentrates on the early less commercial recordings from the 20's. Again, Camsco has the Rounder and Yazoo sets and can probably get you the Smithsonian collection. Enjoy!


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Subject: RE: Genuine Cowboy Songs
From: Old Folk
Date: 20 May 97 - 12:54 AM

You may want to try: Jerry Silverman"s Folk Song Encyclopedia. It is distributed by Hal Leonard Pub. Corp Vol 1 and 2 have about 1100 songs each with many verses and the music is in the more common key, which makes them easy to play It's almost as good as D.T.


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Subject: RE: Genuine Cowboy Songs
From: LaMarca
Date: 20 May 97 - 09:19 AM

Here's the correct title and publisher for the 2 refs I mentioned yesterday:

Lomax, John and Lomax, Alan: Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads, Collier/Macmillan paperback edition of 1930-something revision, published 1986 - this may still be in print

Lingenfelter/Dwyer/Cohen: Songs of the American West, University of California Press, 1968

You might be able to get any of these through your local library's inter-library loan system. Good luck, and have fun!


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Subject: RE: Genuine Cowboy Songs
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 20 May 97 - 12:45 PM

Or, if I'm not being obvious, you could search for @cowboy in the database.


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Subject: RE: Genuine Cowboy Songs
From: Mike Hayward
Date: 20 May 97 - 02:53 PM

Thanks, partners! Please keep your ideas and suggestions coming. I'm most appreciative. The "@cowboy" database is all well and good but the contents span over a hundrd years - most often without any notes or dates on each song's origin or copyright.


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Subject: RE: Genuine Cowboy Songs
From: Mrrzy
Date: 02 May 15 - 03:04 PM

Refreshing - any new news on this?


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Subject: RE: Genuine Cowboy Songs
From: Rex
Date: 04 May 15 - 11:44 AM

I'm pleased that the suggestions here didn't leave much out. Thorp published the first book in 1908, Lomax published the second in 1910. Glad you remembered Glenn Orhlin's work, Univ. of Illinois Press, God bless him. And Katie Lee's work, that must be the most unique of cowboy song compilations. Tinsley rounded up the best background on the songs. To touch on definitions, what is a "genuine" cowboy song? Early cowboys loved Casey Jones published around 1910 but Thorp wouldn't touch it as he was focused on songs about cowboys instead of what played in their minds or on the tips of their tongues.

Rex


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Subject: RE: Genuine Cowboy Songs
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 04 May 15 - 12:33 PM

There's not an awful lot of genuine cowboy songs or singers on record, probably because the golden age of cattle punching was over by the time the record industry started recording such stuff. However, one compilation well worth checking out is Back in the Saddle Again. New World. NW 314/315-2.

Also Cowboy Songs, Ballads & Cattle Calls from Texas. Library of Congress. AAFS L28. I have this as an LP, although it was reissued by Rounder, in the days before Rounder got sold and asset stripped. Whatever, it has some wonderful stuff on it, and it would be well worth searching out.


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Subject: RE: Genuine Cowboy Songs
From: Lighter
Date: 04 May 15 - 12:45 PM

There are few songs about cowboys that we *know* were widely sung *by* cowboys in the late 19th Century.

About the only examples that come to mind are "Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie," "The Streets of Laredo," "The Old Chisholm Trail," and "Get Along, Little Dogies." "Bucking Bronco" and "The Tenderfoot" (1890s) seem also to have been popular.

"The Buffalo Skinners," of course, is not about cowboys. "Home on the Range" and the specifically "cowboy" version of "The Soldier and the Lady" may not have been widely known.

The classic "Strawberry Roan" was written around 1914.


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Subject: RE: Genuine Cowboy Songs
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 04 May 15 - 03:11 PM

Sam Hinton was interested in and performed a lot of cowboy songs. He died a few years ago but no doubt left a robust body of work behind. I'd suggest looking into his published works, his performances, and asking about his archive at UC San Diego.

Another source is Barre Toelken. Again, look up his research and his performances. He is still alive (age 80) last time I checked.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Genuine Cowboy Songs
From: GUEST,Busker Joe
Date: 04 May 15 - 03:11 PM

"The Hills (or Trail) of (to) Mexico" is a cowboy version of the Buffalo Skinners, sharing many verses. Don Edwards' Saddle Songs and his CD's in general, tho' he's more of a continuation of the troubador tradition than a musical archaelologist. and the line between the poetry & songs is almost arbitrary (Tyin Knots...; Windy Bill; High Tone Dance .... these are later additions to the canon, but make my point. they show up as either spoken or sung, depending on the situation. and the mexican vaqueros were no slouches for composing ballads/corridos: El Corrido de Kianses, a.k.a Los Quinientos Novillos, tells of the hardships of drivig the herd north to kansas, favorably compares the mexican drivers' skills w their americano counterparts, and the tragic death of one of the young cowboys, gored by a steer, and the trail boss's having to break the news to his mother on their return.


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Subject: RE: Genuine Cowboy Songs
From: Lighter
Date: 04 May 15 - 06:40 PM

I omitted "The Trail to Mexico," perhaps one of the most popular.


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Subject: RE: Genuine Cowboy Songs
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 05 May 15 - 01:35 PM

"Bury Me Not On The Lone Prairie" Obed Pickard (born in 1874) (on youtube under Pickard Family)
"Old Chisholm Trail" Harry McClintock (born in 1882) (on youtube)
"Trail To Mexico" Harry McClintock (on youtube)
"O Bury Me Not On The Lone Prairie" Carl T. Sprague (born in 1895) (on youtube)
"Streets Of Laredo" Bradley Kincaid (born in 1895) (on youtube)
"Get Along Little Dogies" Cartwright Brothers (born in about 1897 and 1901) (on youtube)
"The Old Chisholm Trail" Edward L. Crain (born in 1901) (on youtube)


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Subject: RE: Genuine Cowboy Songs
From: Rex
Date: 05 May 15 - 01:47 PM

Ah, if you are looking for recordings of these songs, then look no further. Many of the above songs are included in Mark Gardner and my book/CD "Jack Thorp's Songs of the Cowboys" (Museum of New Mexico Press - 2005). These were selected from Jack Thorp's 1st and 2nd editions of the first publication of cowboy songs. The songs were carefully researched and recorded to the styles of the first cowboys if I must say so myself and well illustrated by Santa Fe artist, Ron Kil. A link is below.

Rex

Jack Thorp's Songs of the Cowboys


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Subject: RE: Genuine Cowboy Songs
From: Amos
Date: 05 May 15 - 02:11 PM

Others that come to mind: The Strawberry Roan, Diamond Jim, The Santa Fe Trail, The Colorado Trail, The Old Chisholm Trail.


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Subject: RE: Genuine Cowboy Songs
From: cnd
Date: 05 May 15 - 06:28 PM

Well, I don't know how genuine they are, but I've got a record called "Cowboy Songs Vol 2" by Yodelin' Slim Clark, and I haven't been able to find most of the songs elsewhere, so here they are, whether genuine or not:

A1 The Fox; A2 My Montana Blue Eyes; A3 Plantonio, Pride of the Plains; A4 Memories of Old Chuck Wagon Days; A5 When the Work's All Done This Fall; A6 Swiss Dreams (John White); B1 The Blue-Tail Fly; B2 Mathilda Higgins; B3 The Jam at Gerry's Rock; B4 The Land County Bachelor; B5 Billy Venero; B6 Just Yodelin'

If you'd like, you can check them out at this link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpgDoFlI9GI


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Subject: RE: Genuine Cowboy Songs
From: Mrrzy
Date: 06 May 15 - 01:07 PM

I need more of these, Kirk! Many more!


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Subject: RE: Genuine Cowboy Songs
From: GUEST,Dave the Gnome
Date: 06 May 15 - 02:44 PM

Very interested and quite excited to hear what sounds like a concertina on 'The Texas Cowboy' following Rex's link. I have often though that era and practicality would have made the concertina the perfect trail companion for a cowboy :-) Apart from dust in the reeds and rain in the bellows of course...


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Subject: RE: Genuine Cowboy Songs
From: GUEST,gillymor
Date: 06 May 15 - 03:10 PM

It does sound like a concertina,DtG. I've wondered about wether cowboys used them as one of my buddies accompanies me on English while I sing a few cowboy songs (Hills of Mexico, Old Paint, Old Chisholm Trail) and it works great, at least I think so, and lends some warmth to those tunes. We call it the Prairie Piano or the Stomach Steinway.


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Subject: RE: Genuine Cowboy Songs
From: GUEST,Dave the Gnome
Date: 07 May 15 - 04:55 AM

As the both the English and Anglo (or Anglo-German to give it it's original name) both came out around 1830 and were popular throughout the 19th century they were well known in music halls and, I suspect, western style saloons etc. I am pretty sure that given their compact size and popularity at the time they would have been used quite a lot on the range!


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Subject: RE: Genuine Cowboy Songs
From: Rex
Date: 07 May 15 - 11:12 AM

DtG and gillymor, I appreciate your keen ears. Yes, that is a German made Anglo concertina that I used to accompany myself for The Texas Cowboy. Mark and I found enough examples of the ol' cheese box in use by the early cowboys and felt it was worthy to include among the instruments likely to be played on the open range. As with the other tracks, we wanted sparse arrangements so the concertina stands alone and holds up fine I think. Tinsley stated that The Texas Cowboy first shows up as a poem in 1888.

Rex


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Subject: RE: Genuine Cowboy Songs
From: GUEST,Dave the Gnome
Date: 07 May 15 - 12:01 PM

Thanks Rex, although it was nothing clever. I have a 30 button Lachnal dating from the mid-19th century and yours sounded similar :-)


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Subject: RE: Genuine Cowboy Songs
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 07 May 15 - 12:49 PM

"... the gallant cowboys were having a festive time. The orchestra, one solitary fiddler, [played]... dance rhythms...." -- _Brainard's Musical World_, October 1885.

"... the band [was] a fiddle, guitar and accordeon.... With the first note of the music, a cowboy... rattled away in a mad, jingling waltz." -- _Thirteen_ by Forbes Heermans, 1887.

"Then, grouped about the fitful blaze of the fire, stories are told, cards played, and the solitary banjo, or it may be guitar, is strummed, while some of the younger men sing of love and war...." -- _American Agriculturist_, 7/1890.

"Cowboys and Cherokee half-breeds were out in full force, and, to supply a deficiency of ladies, dresses were put on several of the cowboys, who acted the feminine part to the satisfaction of all.... [Mr.] Short... fiddl[ed], and the cowboys kept time to the rhythm by patting their feet and hands, making such a noise...." -- _Camp Fires of A Naturalist_ by Clarence Edwords and Lewis Ayche, 1893.

"... in Western Texas... the music was a fiddle and a lively tambourine, and a 'viol come imported'.... That old bass viol's music _just got there with both feet_!" -- "The Cowboys' Christmas Ball" by Larry Chitenden, _Historical And Biographical Record of The Cattle Industry..._, 1895.

"Pat attention to the fiddle! Swing her 'round an' off you go!" -- "At A Cowboy Dance," _The Director_, 12/1897, quoting the Denver _Post_.

"As to [the wagon's] contents: ... two big tents, a coal-oil stove, ... Slick's precious bread-pan, a tin eating-outfit, a banjo, axes, tent-pegs, ... rope, rope, rope, more rope, and one dish-towel." -- "Ranch Life In Montana" by Florence Hayward, _Country Life Illustrated_, 7/23/1898.

"Black Sam was the cook, a merry good-tempered negro, and the outfit which secured Sam with the waggon considered itself in luck. Cow-boys are very fond of music, and Sam's accordion helped to while away the evening. For the next two hours there was singing and choruses, and then the men rolled themselves in their blankets with their feet to the fire, and the camp was soon asleep.... After the hard work at the round-up the journey north seemed almost a holiday. Of an evening the cook's accordion was again brought out, and the men sang, and... danced." -- _Redskin and Cow-boy_ by G.A. Henty, 1902.


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Subject: RE: Genuine Cowboy Songs
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 07 May 15 - 12:56 PM

"and, I suspect, western style saloons etc."

"... many cowboys, who deserted the medley of cracked pianos or accordions of the Western saloons to..." -- _The Great K. & A. Train Robbery_ by Paul Ford, 1897.


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Subject: RE: Genuine Cowboy Songs
From: Lighter
Date: 07 May 15 - 05:53 PM

> the ol' cheese box

Shouldn't that be "squeeze box"?


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Subject: RE: Genuine Cowboy Songs
From: Artful Codger
Date: 07 May 15 - 09:51 PM

What we do know is that cowboys mostly sang the same songs as other folks--the popular songs and standards of the day, learned back East or in churches, saloons or music halls, from minstrel shows or oral tradition or even from sheet music. And those songs often provided the tunes to which range-grown poetry was set (circulated, among other means, by local newspapers). The image we now have of cowboys mostly singing lots of songs about the trail was formed by the radio and film industries. It's also a modern notion that there was general agreement about what tune went with which song, as that was rather a fluid, mix-and-match affair (as with early hymn-singing). We know from collectors that a cowboy might use whatever limited set of tunes he already knew for a new song, or cobble up a new one, with little uniformity from one trailhand to the next, and many could only half-sing, half-recite anyway. No wonder the tunes that have been collected, if not lifted from well-known songs, tend to be simple, nondescript and of limited range.

One common practice, now odd to our ears, was to end a song by dropping into speech on the last line. And ballads tended to be sung with free rhythms, not in metronomic lock step, as is the modern style. Alan Lomax greatly disliked the way folk revivalists sang cowboy songs because their delivery was so artificial in this regard.


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Subject: RE: Genuine Cowboy Songs
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 08 May 15 - 01:14 PM

"Cow-boys are very fond of music, and Sam's accordion helped to while away the evening. For the next two hours there was singing and choruses, and then the men rolled themselves in their blankets with their feet to the fire, and the camp was soon asleep...."

"The image we now have of cowboys mostly singing lots of songs about the trail was formed by the radio and film industries."

Imagine getting home from work, deciding to watch some TV shows, and choosing TV shows about the same line of work you're in.


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Subject: RE: Genuine Cowboy Songs
From: Rex
Date: 08 May 15 - 02:59 PM

Jack Thorp said the most likely instrument you would find in an old cow camp was a fiddle and maybe a banjo. Charlie Siringo agreed.

Folks would refer to a concertina as a Cheese Box. A cheese box may not be hexagonal but it is roughly the right shape and size.

I sing the Cowboys Christmas Ball on Mark and my Jack Thorp's Songs of the Cowboys exactly as Thorp wrote it in his book. He got close to what Chittenden wrote. We call that our Sgt. Pepper track as we put in a few more instruments, even the bones.

Rex


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Subject: RE: Genuine Cowboy Songs
From: Rex
Date: 08 May 15 - 03:03 PM

Another thought of a real cowboy song was that melodies were simple and often were to the "rhythm of the horse". That is when they weren't some high trottin' breakdown.

Another good source from folks that studied the actual early cowboy songs are my friends, the Bunkhouse Orchestra, AKA, the Deseret String Band as led by Hal Cannon. They have long since gone their separate ways but you can't go wrong with any of their recordings.


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Subject: RE: Genuine Cowboy Songs
From: GUEST,Bardford no cookie
Date: 09 May 15 - 12:39 AM

Couple references above to the Lomax book "Cowboy Songs and other Frontier Ballads."

It's available in various formats at Project Gutenburg here


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Subject: RE: Genuine Cowboy Songs
From: PHJim
Date: 09 May 15 - 11:24 AM

Merrick Jarrett's Riverside LP, RLP-12-631, THE OLD CHISHOLM TRAIL AND OTHER TRADITIONAL SONGS OF THE OLD WEST, vcl/gtr, rec. by Kenneth Goldstein in Toronto, May 1956. The songlist was as follows:

The Old Chisholm Trail
When The Work's All Done This Fall
The Cowboy's Dream
The Railroad Corral
High Chin Bob
I'm A Poor Lonesome Cowboy
The Cowboys' Dance Song
Cowboy Jack

The Gal I Left Behind Me
Roy Bean
Little Joe the Wrangler
The Lone Star Trail
The Strawberry Roan
Arizona Boys and Girl
Utah Carroll
All Day On the Prairie

At one living room session, a few of us were passing songs around and I sang a Gene Autry song, I'm A Cowpoke Pokin' Along. Merrick said, "Now Jim, you don't really think that's a true cowboy song do you?"


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