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Origins: Make Me a Cowboy Again for a Day.

Jim Dixon 11 Feb 24 - 05:19 PM
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Subject: Origins: Make Me a Cowboy Again for a Day.
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 11 Feb 24 - 05:19 PM

The text below is copied from Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly, Vol 111, No 2874, Oct 6, 1910, page 347:


Backward, turn backward, oh, Time! with your wheels,
Aeroplanes, wagons and automobiles.
Dress me once more in sombrero that flaps,
Spurs, and a flannel shirt, slicker and chaps.
Put a six-shooter or two in my hand.
Show me a yearling to rope and to brand.
Out where the sage brush is dusty and gray,
Make me a cowboy again for a day.

Give me a bronco that knows how to dance,
Buckskin of color and wicked of glance,
New to the feeling of bridles and bits.
Give me a quirt that will sting where it hits.
Strap on the poncho behind in a roll.
Pass me the lariat, dear to my soul.
Over the trail let me gallop away.
Make me a cowboy again for a day.

Thunder of hoofs on the range as you ride,
Hissing of iron, and smoking of hide,
Bellow of cattle, and snort of cayuse,
Short-horns from Texas as wild as the deuce,
Midnight stampede, and the milling of herds,
Yells of the cowmen too angry for words,
Right in the thick of it all I would stay.
Make me a cowboy again for a day.

Under the star-studded canopy vast,
Camp-fire and coffee and comfort at last,
(Bacon that sizzles and crisps in the pan,
After the round-up smells good to a man.)
Stories of ranchers and rustlers re-told
Over the pipes as the embers grow cold—
These are the tunes that old memories play.
Make me a cowboy again for a day.

—Rorodore Theovelt. (sic)
[However, Minna Irving is credited in the table of contents on page 339.]

- - -
Other early copies of the poem appear in:

Outdoor Life, Vol 27 No 2, [Feb?] 1910, page 166.

[I had some trouble figuring out the month of publication of the Outdoor Life issue. It seems to be February, but that raises the question of why OL credits Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly as its source, since it would make OL’s publication date is earlier LIW’s.]

The Railroad Telegrapher, Vol 27 No 11, Nov. 1910, page 1727.

Forest and Stream, Vol 75 No 22, Nov 26, 1910, page 885.

The Square Deal, Vol 7 No 65, Dec 1910, page 448.

All the above are nearly identical, with some differences in spelling, capitalization, and punctuation, which are an editor’s purview.

Another text is given in an article, “Cowboy Songs Again,” by J. Evetts Haley, in a volume called “Texas and Southwestern Lore,” edited by J. Frank Dobie, and published as part of the series, “Publications of the Texas Folk-lore Society,” Volume 6 (Austin, Texas: 1927), page 204. This version shows some minor alterations of words, and two lines missing, probably by word-of-mouth transmission. Haley calls it a poem or recitation, not a song.

The poem is given the title “Call of the Range (By an Old-Time Cowboy)” in Frontier Times, Vol 5 No 3 (Bandera, Texas: Dec 1927) page 139.

The poem is a parody of the 1859 poem “Rock Me to Sleep [Mother],” by Elizabeth Akers, which begins:

“Backward, turn backward, O Time, in your flight,
Make me a child again, just for to-night!”


Peg Moreland, “Make Me a Cowboy Again,” on the album “Let ‘Er Buck,” Charly Records, 2006—but from a 1929 recording, Victor 40272.

Glenn Ohrlin, “Cowboy Again for a Day,” on the album “A Cowboy’s Life,” Rounder Records, 1998.

Rick Devin, “Cowboy Again for a Day,” on the album “Cowboy Classics,” 2003.

Don Edwards, “Make Me a Cowboy Again for a Day,” on the album “Last of the Troubadours: Saddle Songs II,” Smithsonian Folkways, 2004.

David Bivens, “Make Me a Cowboy Again for a Day,” on the album “Southern Slow Dance,” O.G.R.E. (Old Great Recording Enterprises), 2007.

The Due West Trio, “Make Me A Cowboy (For A Day),” on the album “Ten Winters and Ten Springs,” 2007.

Pledge, “Make Me a Cowboy,” on the album “Five Holy Heroes,” Ninestone Records, 2011.

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