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Lyr Req: Mormon Cowboy

Roy Kline 24 May 97 - 01:48 AM
rich r 25 May 97 - 12:47 AM
Dale Rose 25 May 97 - 02:18 AM
rOY kLINE 25 May 97 - 08:38 PM
GUEST,yeager 03 Jan 12 - 01:14 PM
Desert Dancer 03 Jan 12 - 05:03 PM
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Subject: Mormon Cowboy (lyric request)
From: Roy Kline
Date: 24 May 97 - 01:48 AM

Anyone know the lyrics to "The Mormon Cowboy?" (also, any info on author and history of the song?)

Any Southwesterners out there should remember how it began with:

"I am a Mormon Cowboy From Utah I did roam..."

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Subject: RE: Mormon Cowboy (lyric request)
From: rich r
Date: 25 May 97 - 12:47 AM

Guy Logdsdon prints a song that he calls "The Mormon Cowboy", but it is a somewhat bawdy derivative of "Maids When your young never Wed An Old Man", i. e. a song of great impotence but perhaps not great importance. I have a feeling this is not what you are after.

rich r

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From: Dale Rose
Date: 25 May 97 - 02:18 AM


I am a Mormon cowboy and Utah is my home
Tucson, Arizona is the first place I did roam
From there unto El Capitan, a place you all know well
To describe that brushy country, no mortal tongue can tell.

While at the old post office, a maid came riding down
Upon a bronco pony and was soon upon the ground
She gave to each and every one an invitation grand
Inviting us to a grand ball at the old El Capitan.

We all went to the dance that night at the schoolhouse by the road
Many folks came from Dripping Springs and many came from Globe
The music they brought with them I never shall forget
Twas a colored man with his guitar, I can hear him singing yet.

There were lots of married women there and single girls, too
I soon became acquainted with all except a few
The cowboys in their high heeled boots were leading a grand march
While the city dudes soon followed in collars stiff with starch.

After dancing two or three sets, I stepped outside to cool
Every bush that I passed by was loaded with white mule
Then after serving supper it was a quarter past one
I heard a fight had started, each cowboy pulled his gun.

Up stepped a little cow puncher, his eyes were flashing fire
He said he was the ram rod of the ranch called bar f bar
I started for my pony, the guns were flashing fast
I could hear the cowboys shouting, "We've broke it up at last."

So I bid farewell to my new made friends in the place called El Capitan
The fairest face I ever saw was in this wild and happy band
I jumped into my saddle and started back toward home
Made up my mind right then and there that I never more would roam.

I am not completely sure in a couple of spots in the second last verse. I am not exactly sure what his eyes were flashing and it might be the Bar S Bar.
This is transcribed from When I Was a Cowboy, Vol. 1 ~~ Yazoo 2022. This particular recording is by Carl Sprague, but I have also heard other versions, including one by the Deseret String Band. They have it on CD now ~~ Utah, Songs of Statehood Okehdokee 96001. Both are available from Camsco.

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Subject: RE: Mormon Cowboy (lyric request)
From: rOY kLINE
Date: 25 May 97 - 08:38 PM

Thanks Dale. That's the one. (this cowboy must be one heck of a rider to cover all that ground)

Well Rich, interesting alternative. Reminds me of a funny song (in Spanish though) that Sonora Dinamita does, trying to convince the ladies of the benefits of marrying older men. The name escapes me, if I ever had it...

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mormon Cowboy
From: GUEST,yeager
Date: 03 Jan 12 - 01:14 PM

It is the bar f bar that he talks about. I am proud to say I have punched cows at the bar f bar ranch in el capitan

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mormon Cowboy
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 03 Jan 12 - 05:03 PM

Arizona folklorist James "Big Jim" Griffith has a made quite a detailed analysis of "The Mormon Cowboy", Chapter 6 in: A Shared Space: Folklife in the Arizona-Sonora Borderlands. Logan, UT: Utah State University Press, 1995.

It appears with permission online at Cowboy Song and Singers, "initially a collaborative effort for Dr. Janet Sturman's Music 334 class, Fall semester 2000, and the UA [University of Arizona] Learning Technologies Center. ... it has been revised as a component of the Music of the Southwest website."

(The text given there also confirms the text as "Bar F Bar" ranch.)

A few paragraphs in summary from a quite lengthy analysis:

I started my investigation of "The Mormon Cowboy" with one isolated text, that of a commercial record cut in 1929. I now have several additional texts and evidence that "The Mormon Cowboy" is in fact a folk song, using a fairly conservative definition of that term. That is to say, it is of uncertain authorship and has existed over time in more than one version. It certainly is not widely known or performed in Arizona or the West today. The late Van Holyoak, who lived about sixty miles north of Globe, had a copy of Coyote Wolfe's text, but didn't like the song enough to add it to his extensive repertoire of songs and recitations. My informants, on the other hand, had thought well enough of it to write it down, to learn, in some cases to remember and sing the words, and to send me their texts and reminiscences.

The reason seems at least partly clear. The song is a record of a series of incidents that were important to a specific community at a certain time. To those who had lived in the El Capitan area in the 1920s and were acquainted with those Saturday night dances and the people who attended them, the song was important. To others it held little interest. For some members of that western community, however, it brought back memories-of wild cattle, men, and times; of courtship and marriage; of making manzanita jelly with Grandma. How a person looked at the song depended to a great extent on who he or she was, but it is clear that the song was-and still is-the property of a community. A diverse community, to be sure, including cowboys and ranchers, town and country dwellers, Mormons and Gentiles-but a community nevertheless. "The Mormon Cowboy" in its variants and interpretations is in a real sense their song.
Not really a Mormon song or a cowboy song to the fullest extent, it rather seems to reflect the specific community from which it comes. In the culturally mixed community of the Globe-El Capitan area, several sets of values and cultural traditions coexisted, albeit uneasily at times. And it is my strong contention that this coexistence-between Blacks and Whites, Mormons and Gentiles, cowboys and miners, ranch and town folk, is reflective of the ethnic, religious, and occupational diversity that has always been a very real part of the American West.


Big Jim is the founder of the "Tucson Meet Yourself", Tucson's 38-year-old folklife festival, and the 2011 recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts "Bess Lomax Hawes National Heritage Fellowship", which honors "an individual who has made major contributions to the excellence, vitality, and public appreciation of the folk and traditional arts. The nominee should be worthy of national recognition and must be actively engaged in preserving the folk and traditional arts."

He's also a fine banjo player and singer. :-)

~ Becky in Tucson

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