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Lyr Req: Open Ledger / Open Book (Curley Fletcher)

GUEST,Ray Winter 21 Mar 05 - 06:25 PM
Rapparee 21 Mar 05 - 06:49 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 21 Mar 05 - 07:53 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 21 Mar 05 - 08:06 PM
katlaughing 21 Mar 05 - 10:34 PM
Mark Ross 22 Mar 05 - 08:39 AM
Louie Roy 22 Mar 05 - 10:49 AM
Mark Ross 22 Mar 05 - 11:16 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 22 Mar 05 - 01:11 PM
Joe Offer 09 Aug 06 - 04:01 AM
GUEST,Irish Smith 04 Jul 11 - 03:11 PM
Jim Dixon 30 Jul 11 - 06:31 PM
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Subject: Curley Fletchers' The Open Ledger
From: GUEST,Ray Winter
Date: 21 Mar 05 - 06:25 PM

I find this poem titled as "The Open Road" and " The Open Book" on the web but I buckaroed for many years in the Nevada, California and Oregon ranges that Curly Fletcher knew well. I have heard it recited in cow camps by many cowboys,some of whom probably learned it from Curley himself and never in 71 years of my life have I ever heard it called anything but The Open Ledger until I got on the internet. Am I missing somthing out there or what?

Ray Winter
brwinner@udeserve.net


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Subject: RE: Curley Fletchers' The Open Ledger
From: Rapparee
Date: 21 Mar 05 - 06:49 PM

Ray, if you're sure it's the same poem, I'd guess that folks who posted it to the Internet just used the name they knew it by. I've heard Wallace McRae's classic "Reincarnation" called a bunch of other things, and that's a lot more recent than anything Curley wrote.

I checked the books I've got here at work -- "Gathering," "Maverick Cowboy Poetry" and others -- and didn't find Curley's poem right off the bat. But I'll keep lookin' and see what I find.


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Subject: RE: Curley Fletchers' The Open Ledger
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 21 Mar 05 - 07:53 PM

The original "Outlaw Broncho" by Curley Fletcher, known to most of us as "The Strawberry Roan," was printed in "The Arizona Record" in 1915; it is posted in thread 35911: Outlaw Broncho
Many of these western songs got called different names by various singers, a few of whom tried to steal the credit.
Others by Curley Fletcher include "The Flying Outlaw" and the "High Loping Cowboy (Wild Buckaroo)"


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Subject: RE: Curley Fletchers' The Open Ledger
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 21 Mar 05 - 08:06 PM

Fletcher's "The Open Book" is in Numachi and the DT: Open Book
The poem speaks of 'the ledger,' as indicated by Ray Winter.


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Subject: RE: Curley Fletchers' The Open Ledger
From: katlaughing
Date: 21 Mar 05 - 10:34 PM

I can't lay my hands on a book of Curley's poems which has been in our family from whne they were written, but when I do, I'll look for this one, also.

Welcome to the Mudcat, Ray

kat


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Subject: RE: Curley Fletchers' The Open Ledger
From: Mark Ross
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 08:39 AM

I first heard this from Glen Ohrlin who called it THE OPEN BOOK. I believe that Glen knew Fletcher back in the old days. He said that Curly used to write his own dirty parodies before anyone else could get around to it.

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Curley Fletchers' The Open Ledger
From: Louie Roy
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 10:49 AM

I saw Curley Fletcher ride in the Lewiston Idaho Roundup and also at the Pendelton Oregon Roundup in the early 1930s and he was my hero buckaroo.Knowing this my Uncle on December 21 1931 gave me for Xmas an autographed song book of all of Curley Fletcher's songs as of that date and there isn't a song called The Open Ledger or Open Door in it so if he wrote this other song he did it after December 1931.Here are the songs listed as of that date The Saga Of Borax Bill---The Sheepherders Lament---Strawberry Roan---Yavapia Pete---Chuck Wagon Blues---Wild Buckaroo--Ridge Running Roan---The Pot Wrassler---Last Of The Thundering Herd--Frontier Of Freedom--The Flying Outlaw---The Cowpony Lament---The Desert Rat---The Painted Trail---When Desert Flowers Bloom---Mountain Meadows Memories---The Cowboy's Prayer---Lonesome Days--Meditian---The Valley Of Listless Dreams.Louie Roy


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Subject: RE: Curley Fletchers' The Open Ledger
From: Mark Ross
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 11:16 AM

THE OPEN BOOK wouldn't be in that collection because it is, to say the least, somewhat bawdy. Check it out in the Digital Tradition.

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Curley Fletchers' The Open Ledger
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 01:11 PM

Fletcher changed the name and the text of at least one of his poems in his 1931 book (reprinted 1986) "Songs of the Sage." "The Outlaw Broncho" became the "Strawberry Roan."
The book was by no means complete.

Glenn Ohrlin, 1973, "The Hell-Bound Train, A Cowboy Songbook," was not always accurate. His treatment os "Strawberry Roan" starts with the version in "Songs of the Sage." By the time he published that book in 1931, Fletcher had changed the brand on the horse from an "X Y Z stamp" (an Arizona outfit) in the original poem to "double square" (a Nevada brand). The people at the Arizona State University Library kindly made a copy for me of the original poem from the old "Arizona Record" of October 16, 1915.
Other poems, scattered in newspapers, rodeo programs and the like, never made it into his book, or were changed in content to make them acceptable to the publisher.

A definitive volume of Fletcher's poems is needed. None exists.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Open Ledger/Book (from Curley Fletche
From: Joe Offer
Date: 09 Aug 06 - 04:01 AM

refresh


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Subject: RE: Curley Fletchers' The Open Ledger
From: GUEST,Irish Smith
Date: 04 Jul 11 - 03:11 PM

Please, some one help me to get a copy of "The Open Ledger" My husband was a cowboy in the Nevada area for years and after he had a few, he would recite that poem from beginning to the end and I always loved it even though it was bawdy as you put it. My husband has since passed and having that poem would mean the world to me, Please help.
irish@cavenet.com


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Subject: Lyr Add: OPEN LEDGER / OPEN BOOK (Curley Fletcher)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 30 Jul 11 - 06:31 PM

From "The Whorehouse Bells Were Ringing" and Other Songs Cowboys Sing By Guy Logsdon (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1995), page 108:

[Chapter] 16
"THE OPEN BOOK"
Alternate title: "The Open Ledger"

The tradition of cowboy poetry recitation and poetry writing, until recently, has taken a back seat to cowboy singing. A singing cowboy has a romantic flair that a poetry-reciting cowboy does not enjoy. Yet, both forms of expression were equally popular for recreational pastime. In fact, the singing ability and vocal quality of many working cowboys make it difficult to distinguish between song and recitation. And the songs were usually introduced as poems, as indicated many times throughout this collection.

The Cowboy Poetry Gathering held each year since 1985 in Elko, Nevada, has enhanced the image of the cowboy poet and reciter in the eyes of the general public. It was during the 1985 Gathering when I collected the "classic" cowboy poem "The Open Book" from an excellent cowboy reciter. On February 2, 1985, I was visiting with Sunny and Alice Hancock, ranchers from Lakeview, Oregon; Sunny grew up near Williams, Arizona, and cowboyed in a few other states before moving to Oregon. I asked him if he knew "The Open Book" and with pride he said, "Yes." It was not possible to record it then, but he promised to recite it later in the day. I recorded Sunny Hancock's version of the song, although he indicated that he had forgotten a few lines. At the 1986 Gathering, Hancock brought a typescript that he had worked on during the fall, including the twelve lines he had not remembered in 1985. It is the version that I use as Text A.

Through the years I have been asked if I had heard "The Open Book"; my answer was, "No," until I heard Glenn Ohrlin's version on Just Something My Uncle Told Me. When Glenn and I visit, it is always in a setting in which recitation is impossible, but, at least, I inquired about "The Open Book" during two visits. Glenn said that he had learned his version from Johnny Baker, a rodeo performer, song writer, and singer, and that he knows the complete poem, which is much longer than his recorded version.

"The Open Book" is another poem written by Curley Fletcher. It is a scathing, but humorous, attack against cowboys; few western states and cowboy types are spared, and it reflects the cowboy's ability to laugh at himself, his friends, and his occupation. Also it verbalizes criticism for those who do not like cowboys; it is a poem for cowboys and non-cowboys. For polite society, Fletcher wrote a "clean" version.

Curley Fletcher was a creative and productive man. He wrote not only poems and songs, but also magazine articles and short stories, and he edited and produced magazines and annuals. (Hal Cannon in the 1986 reprint of Songs of the Sage discusses Fletcher's career in detail.) In 1946, Fletcher edited and produced Silverado, Nevada's Annual Souvenir Magazine; he wrote every item in it using such pseudonyms as Dewlap Wattles, Bourbon Bill, Curt Crabb, Breezy Summers, and many more. He scattered a few of his poems throughout Silverado, including the non-bawdy "The Open Book" (Text B).

Text A

1. You've been tamped full of shit about cowboys.
They are known as a romantic band—
Bold knights of the saddle, who round up wild cattle,
And roll cigarettes with one hand.

2. Now according to movie and story,
He's a sheik in a ten-gallon hat.
All he knows of romance is the crotch of his pants.
What the hell do you think about that?

3. So it's high time somebody debunked him.
He's so plumb full of crap, and, besides,
A bullshittin' bastard who's always half-plastered
Is no hero just 'cause he rides.

4. Now I've harvested wool in Wyoming,
And rawhide in New Mexico.
I've worn a bandana in Sheepshit, Montana,
And raped squaws over in Idaho.

5. So me, I'm plumb soured on cowpunchers.
In fact, I ride sour long ago.
The clap-ridden slats in their ten-gallon hats
Ain't worth a damn that I know.

6. But each range breeds its own brand of bastard
And booze-fighter, bugger or bum;
Every half-assed vaquero who wears a sombrero
Is marked by the range he is from.

7. Some come from the Canadian Rockies;
Some drift from the southwestern plains.
It surely beats hell, but it's easy to tell
Where each learned to tighten his reins.

8. Take for instance the Panhandle hairpin,
Widely known by the moniker "Tex";
He's a son-of-a-bitch with a bad trigger itch
And a big Bowie knife complex.

9. Why at heart he's an unpaid policeman,
And he'll brag of tough spots he's been in,
But his powder is damp, and his gun hand will cramp
When he draws near a cotton gin.

10. Take the clip-cock from California;
He's been christened "The Native Son"—
A half-baked vaquero who has no dinero,
But no worse than the general run.

11. He's a cross between a greaser and gringo,
Produced by the whore from the mine,
A renegade breed that's gone plumb to seed
Since the gold rush of forty-nine.

12. There's boosters from Oklahoma
And bastards from Arkansas,
But they're just cotton pickers and tinhorn dice lickers
With not too much in their craw.

13. There's the pistol-prick out in Nebraska;
He's known as the corn-sucker class,
From the cootie that crawls on his crab-ridden balls
To the piles that blister his ass.

14. Count the cocksman from Colorado,
Where Pike's Peak ponders and broods—
A miner and mucker, the phony cock-sucker,
And his racket is wranglin' dudes.

15. He sponsors a double-rigged saddle.
His gifts are the gifts of the gab.
With a rope made of grass and teeth in his ass,
The best he can get is the tab.

16. Take the "never-sweat" from Nevada;
He's known as the "Son of the Sage"—
A tinhorn card hustler and discard cunt rustler,
A throwback to some ancient age.

17. He sponsors a center-fire saddle,
And his brains have a chronic limp—
Just a contrary fart and a cow thief at heart,
And actually just a lunch bucket pimp.

18. Now we can't overlook Arizona;
He's a son of the old Sacatone,
An ornery critter and a famous bullshitter,
About the sorriest seed ever sown.

19. He's bothered by Mexican heartburn,
With protruding piles and gut.
A red hot tamale is right down his alley.
'Tis a diet his asshole can't cut.

20. There's that whistle-prick out there in Utah;
He was sired by old Brigham Young,
The sap-sucking swizzler and cunt-cheating chiseler;
Of the barrel, he's only the bung.

21. Often called the crying Jack Mormon,
His penchant is guzzling booze.
He's got a round ass and can't ride nor lass',
And he'd give a sad jackass the blues.

22. There's a flute blower out in Dakota,
Just a liar, and, what's more,
A psalm-singing sooner, a guitar-picking crooner
And as worthless as tits on a boar.

23. His tongue is diseased with diarrhea,
The half-breed gut-eating tramp.
He knows more of plows than he savies of cows,
And was born with his ass in a cramp.

24. That greaser from down in Chihuahua,
He claims he's a cowpuncher, too.
He curses the gringo in that Mexican lingo,
But that's about all he can do.

25. He sponsors a rawhide riata,
And he straddles a silver trimmed rig;
Just a counterfeit chump, the result of a hump
Twixt a Spaniard, a Yaqui, and a Jig.

26. There's a herd in the Hollywood movies;
You can find them at Sunset and Gower,
And brother to brother they bullshit each other,
And just bellyache by the hour.

27. 'Course they're just a mixed bunch of bastards.
Of that there is damn little doubt,
And each sorry hand wears the mark of the brand
Of the country that had him run out.

28. All in all, they're considered half-witted
And the curse of the wide-open west.
Whether Canada twister or Oregon mister,
They're just sons of bitches at best.

29. No, there isn't much difference in cowboys,
Whether hemorrhoid, stool or hard turd.
Spring, summer, and fall, I've rode with them all,
And maintain they're a plumb sorry herd.

30. Now I might be a gullible gunsel,
But at that, why, I ain't too damn dumb.
If a she-sheep don't cross with her herder or boss,
Where in hell are them cowpunchers from?

31. So now that I've opened the ledger
On cowpunchers as they be,
Some frijole chomper or half-assed bronc stomper
Will kick all the shit out of me.

32. Now, just so you won't die of wonder,
Why a "Native Son" is what I am,
And what I've tried hard to say in an indirect way
Is that cowpunchers ain't worth a damn.

33. As for those I've neglected to mention,
Why, it's not that I can't find the rhyme;
But between me and you, I've got work to do
And those bastards just ain't worth my time.

Text B (by Curley Fletcher)

1. You've been tamped full of tales about cowboys.
They're known as a romantic band,
Bold knights of the saddle, who round up wild cattle,
And roll cigarettes with one hand.

2. Well, it's high time somebody debunked 'em—
Let the air from their counterfeit hides—
Every boastful galoot with a spur on his boot
Is no hero just 'cause he rides.

3. Hell, I've known all kinds of cowpunchers,
Throughout fifty long years in the west.
Whether Canada twister, or Oregon mister,
They all looked like bums at their best.

4. I have harvested wool in Wyoming,
And some rawhide in New Mexico.
I've worn a bandana in Sheepstunk, Montana,
And I've dug spuds in old Idaho.

5. They wear those ten-gallon sombreros,
And they think they're God's gift to the range,
But they take up more slack than a dumb lumberjack,
And then talk you out of your change.

6. You can bet that I savvy the hairpins.
I know 'em for what they ain't worth.
They're as dumb as sheep come, out west where they're from,
An' should have been strangled at birth.

7. Some hail from out east of the Rockies.
Some ride from the southwestern plains,
But it's easy to tell, by the brag and the smell,
Where each learned to tighten his reins.

8. As a group they're a bunch of quitters,
With less brains than God gave a goose.
They're caught short of thinking and cry when they're drinking,
But they all like the forbidden juice.

9. Take, for instance, the Panhandle hairpin,
Widely known by the moniker "Tex."
He's a famous lie floater and boastful gun toter,
With a big Bowie knife complex.

10. He will brag of the big plains in Texas,
Or of getting men out on a limb,
But his powder is damp and his gun hand will cramp
If someone screams "cotton" at him.

11. There's that prune-glomming Californian;
He's known as the nice Native Son,
A half baked vaquero who has no dinero,
But no worse than the general run.

12. He thinks that he's clever and handsome,
This product from orchard and mine,
But he's only a weed from that pioneer breed,
In the gold rush of old forty-nine.

13. Take the lame-brain from cold Colorado,
Where high Pike's Peak ponders and broods;
A miner, a mucker, this hungry stump sucker,
His racket is waiting on dudes.

14. He sponsors a double-rigged saddle,
And he thinks he's a wolf gone plumb wild,
But he's a chump who is easy to dump,
With the sense of a two-year-old child.

15. 'Course, we can't overlook Arizona;
He's the son of the dry Sacatone.
Of all nature's blunders, he's one of the wonders,
The sorriest seed ever sown.

16. He's a sucker for Mexican cooking,
Chili beans with cigarette butts.
A red hot tamale is right down his alley.
That's why he ain't got any guts.

17. And then there's the rodeo cowboy;
By far he's the pick of the lot.
He makes his best ride, and then fills his fool hide
Full of whisky that someone else brought.
(Contributed by Sunny Hancock; not in Fletcher's text.)

18. Now there's boosters from poor Oklahoma,
And there's brokers from old Arkansaw;
But they're cotton pickers and tinhorn dice slickers,
With none too much sand in the craw.

19. They travel in herds like cayuses.
They're cocky and flip with the lip,
But they know more of plows than they do about cows,
Out there on the Cherokee Strip.

20. There's a so-called cowhand in Utah,
Who thinks he's the salt from Salt Lake;
He's only small change from that locoweed range,
With less brains than to make his head ache.

21. He thinks he's a wonderful twister,
This boob with the jack-Mormon brand,
But he's nutty more than a peach-orchard boar.
In fact, he's a plumb sorry hand.

22. Take that gunsel from out in Dakota
Who claims he can "sure stand the gaff,"
Though raised on the prairies, he only knows dairies,
And was caught stealing milk from a calf.

23. He'll tell how his folks scalped the Indians,
The Cheyennes, the Crows and the Sioux;
But this calf-robbing lad and his sod-busting dad
Spend most of their time fighting booze.

24. There's the cholo from down in Chihuahua;
He claims he's a cowpuncher, too.
He curses the gringo in Mexican lingo,
But that's about all he can do.

25. He sponsors a rawhide riata,
And he straddles a silver trimmed rig.
This locoed vaquero, with spangled sombrero,
Has locoweed under his wig.

26. Take this tinhorn right here in Nevada;
He maintains he's the Son of the Sage.
Like the tree-climbing crew you see in a zoo,
He'd feel right at home in a cage.

27. But he likes to smoke, drink and gamble,
And for that reason, he's always broke,
So his aim is to tame some thrice-divorced dame
Who has plenty of cash in her poke.

28. There's a mixed herd in Hollywood's movies,
They all hang around Sunset and Gower,
And brother to brother, they beef with each other,
While they bellyache, hour after hour.

29. Some hail from New York or New Jersey;
Some are young; some are bearded and gray,
But each sorry hand wears the earmark and brand
Of the range where he first learned to bray.

30. Yes, I've know every kind of cowpuncher,
Through winter, spring, summer and fall.
Gaucho and greaser, and gringo bronc squeezer,
I've mingled and mixed with them all.

31. I may be a cranky old codger,
But I know that I wouldn't exchange
A razorback hog nor a sheepherder's dog
For the best so-called knight of the range.

32. Course, there's some who are better than others,
But they're few and they're damned hard to find.
Take them all, man to man; they're a bad boastful clan.
Like four deuces, they're all of a kind.

33. As for those I've neglected to mention,
It's not that I can't find the rhyme,
But, between me and you, I've got work to do,
And those chumps are not worth the time.

34. But now that I've opened the ledger
On the romantic braggarts who ride,
Some frijole chomper or locoed bronc stomper
Will be after my scalp or my hide.

35. So I'll just have to let you all wonder
If I'm a cowpuncher and dumb—
Well, guess for a spell, 'cause I don't dare tell
Which country and range I am from.

References: Cannon (1986), pp. v-xiii; Fletcher (1946), pp. 10-11.
Recordings: Glenn Ohrlin, on Just Something My Uncle Told Me, Rounder 0141 (bawdy version).


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