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Lyr Add: The Last Longhorn

Art Thieme 23 Apr 00 - 06:19 PM
raredance 23 Apr 00 - 09:26 PM
MMario 23 Apr 00 - 10:20 PM
raredance 24 Apr 00 - 12:10 AM
Ely 24 Apr 00 - 12:56 AM
Art Thieme 24 Apr 00 - 11:09 PM
harpgirl 24 Apr 00 - 11:35 PM
Jim Dixon 06 May 09 - 12:27 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 06 May 09 - 01:30 PM
katlaughing 06 May 09 - 01:35 PM
Artful Codger 06 May 09 - 07:48 PM
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Subject: Lyric add--The Last Longhorn
From: Art Thieme
Date: 23 Apr 00 - 06:19 PM

An ancient longhorned bovine lay dying by the river,
There was a lack of vegetation and the cold winds made him shiver,
A cowboy sat beside him with sadness on his face,
To see his final passing--the last of a noble race.

Tell the new breed corn-fed cattle when they come grazing around,
And see me lying stark and stiff upon the frozen ground,
If they attempt to eat me they very soon will see,
That my bones and hide are petrified; they'll find no beef on me.

I remember back in the '70s--full many summers past,
There was grass and water plenty but it was too0 good to last,
I little dreamed what would happen some 20 summers hence,
When the nester came with his wife and kids, his dogs and his barbed wire fence.

And the cowboy riz sadly and mounted his old cayouse,
The time has come when cowboys and longhorns are no use,
And while gazing sadly backward upon the dead bovine,
His bronc stepped in a dog hole, fell and broke his spine.

Art Thieme (Don't know where I found this...)


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Subject: RE: Lyric add--The Last Longhorn
From: raredance
Date: 23 Apr 00 - 09:26 PM

I was scanning along the melancholic bit of verse somehwat sympathetic to the cowboy who way of life was dramatically changing. But when I hit that last line, I couldn't help but start laughiing. that was too much for me. It crossed the line from sadness to comic unbelievability.

Related to the song's topic, I was under the impression that relict populations of the long horn breed survived and still exist as novelty cattle (i.e. not commercially important), but I have no documentation. Anybody know if there are still longhorns?

rich r


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Subject: RE: Lyric add--The Last Longhorn
From: MMario
Date: 23 Apr 00 - 10:20 PM

back when I was in college mumblety years ago there was a project going to "breed back" to the longhorn. Don't know how successful it was, or whether you could truly call them "longhorns"


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Subject: RE: Lyric add--The Last Longhorn
From: raredance
Date: 24 Apr 00 - 12:10 AM

I did some hunting around and it seems the longhorns exist and are fairly common today. Such was not the case in the 1920's when the breed nearly went extinct. With authorization from the US Congress an employee of the Forest Service, scoured the southwest for several year and came up with fewer than 30 individuals that were used to start a herd and breeding program in 1927. In 1964 the Texas Longhorn Breeders Association of America took over the breeding registry for the decendants of the 1927 herd. Details of all this can be found in an article at this site:

http://www.luckysnlranch.com/articles/6.html

rich r


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Subject: RE: Lyric add--The Last Longhorn
From: Ely
Date: 24 Apr 00 - 12:56 AM

Um, sure there are longhorns. I was late for school one day because there was a bull loose in the road. They probably aren't as tough as they used to be (who would be after 100+ years of fenced grazing), but they still stand the climate here in Texas just fine. Brahma hybrids are more popular now, though.


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Subject: RE: Lyric add--The Last Longhorn
From: Art Thieme
Date: 24 Apr 00 - 11:09 PM

Just about all the longhorns were used in the film of LONESOME DOVE. ;-)

Art


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Subject: RE: Lyric add--The Last Longhorn
From: harpgirl
Date: 24 Apr 00 - 11:35 PM

Hi Art,
This song appears in the collection "He Was Singin' This Song" by Jim Bob Tinsley. It is a "collection of Forty-Eight traditional songs of the American Cowboy...University Presses of Florida, 1981.

The book says, "A pioneer settler in the upper Pease River country of Texas composed a poetic requiem to the Texas longhorn and to the cowboy in 1899 that in time became the song "the Last Longhorn." John Wesley wrote the verses for a friend, to be read at a regular Saturday night lieterary meeting in the town of Margaret."

On my latest trip to Brisky Books in Micanopy Florida I picked up this book along with several others, and intend to transfer some of it's songs to the DT.

"The distinctive longhorn emerged from the unclaimed cattle that wandered off the old Spanish ranches in Mexico. By the mid-nineteenth century they ranged over the vast Texas plans in almost unlimited numbers...The longhorn was to be remembered because it revived Texas economically following the Civil War and provided a land of grass with a productive cattle industry. " pp. 222


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE LAST LONGHORN (from John Lomax)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 06 May 09 - 12:27 PM

From Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads by John Avery Lomax (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1918), page 197:


THE LAST LONGHORN

An ancient long-horned bovine lay dying by the river.
There was lack of vegetation and the cold winds made him shiver.
A cowboy sat beside him with sadness in his face,
To see his final passing, — this last of a noble race.

The ancient eunuch struggled and raised his shaking head,
Saying, "I care not to linger when all my friends are dead.
These Jerseys and these Holsteins, they are no friends of mine.
They belong to the nobility who live across the brine.

"Tell the Durhams and the Herefords when they come a-grazing round,
And see me lying stark and stiff upon the frozen ground,
I don't want them to bellow when they see that I am dead,
For I was born in Texas near the river that is Red.

"Tell the coyotes, when they come at night a-hunting for their prey,
They might as well go further, for they'll find it will not pay.
If they attempt to eat me, they very soon will see
That my bones and hide are petrified; they'll find no beef on me.

"I remember back in the seventies, full many summers past,
There was grass and water plenty, but it was too good to last.
I little dreamed what would happen some twenty summers hence,
When the nester came with his wife, his kids, his dogs, and his barbed-wire fence."

His voice sank to a murmur. His breath was short and quick.
The cowboy tried to skin him when he saw he couldn't kick.
He rubbed his knife upon his boot until he made it shine,
But he never skinned old longhorn, 'caze he couldn't cut his rine.

And the cowboy riz up sadly and mounted his cayuse,
Saying, "The time has come when longhorns and their cowboys are no use!"
And while gazing sadly backward upon the dead bovine,
His bronc stepped in a dog-hole and fell and broke his spine.

The cowboys and the longhorns who partnered in eighty-four
Have gone to their last round-up over on the other shore.
They answered well their purpose, but their glory must fade and go,
Because men say there's better things in the modern cattle show.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Last Longhorn
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 06 May 09 - 01:30 PM

The best candidate for authorship of "The Last Longhorn" is John Wesley. According to Johnny Kendrick, Wesley was a Civil War veteran who settled at Pease City, Texas. c. 1880. He wrote several poems, which appeared in local papers. Kendrick says Wesley wrote the poem in 1889 for a "Saturday Night literary meeting."
Carl Sprague's 1930s recording is mentioned by Kendrick.

Jim Bob Tinsley says the song was popularized by R. Walker Hall of Vernon, Texas, a jurist and western versifier, who printed the song in 1916 in "The Cattleman," with the title "The Passing of the Old-time Cowboy and the Last Longhorn," author John Wesley. Eleven years later he published under the title "The Last Longhorn," no author cited.
Charles Siringo published the poem as "The Tough Longhorn" in his booklet of cow-camp poetry.

In 1921, Jack Thorp said he was unable to trace the authorship.

Lomax, in the 1938 edition of "Cowboy Songs ...," said the song was "said to have been written by Judge R. W. Hall of Amarillo, Texas."
Most of the above from Last Longhorn
--------------------------------

The longhorns in "Lonesome Dove" came from an Alberta Ranch which also, I believe, furnishes horses for rodeos.

As a graduate of Texas University, I have to mention "Bevo," their longhorn mascot, which is forced to watch football games when the team plays. He is Bevo Roman numeral something or other; there have been a succession of them.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Last Longhorn
From: katlaughing
Date: 06 May 09 - 01:35 PM

Thanks for posting this. We've got a neighbour down the road who has a Texas longhorn and a few buffalo.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Last Longhorn
From: Artful Codger
Date: 06 May 09 - 07:48 PM

raredance wrote: But when I hit that last line, I couldn't help but start laughiing. that was too much for me. It crossed the line from sadness to comic unbelievability.

This sort of thing—horse steps in a hole and the rider dies either from being thrown or from having his mount fall on him—wasn't infrequent. Charles Badger Clark's partner Al, commemorated in "The Lost Partner", died in this manner, and some other cowboy poems describe similar deaths. The only unbelievable aspect here is the perfect timing of his demise; excuse it as poetic license to underline the theme. Cowboys of the time would have known fellow punchers who died like this, so the manner of this cowboy's death would have struck them as comicly bathetic, yes, but also touching, befitting and all too possible.


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