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Lyr/Tune Add: The Tenderfoot (from Thorp)


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Artful Codger 03 Nov 06 - 07:27 PM
Charley Noble 03 Nov 06 - 08:19 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 03 Nov 06 - 08:43 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 03 Nov 06 - 09:15 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 03 Nov 06 - 09:36 PM
Lighter 03 Nov 06 - 09:43 PM
Lighter 03 Nov 06 - 09:55 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 03 Nov 06 - 10:19 PM
Charley Noble 04 Nov 06 - 09:21 AM
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Subject: Lyr/Tune Add: THE TENDERFOOT (from Thorp)
From: Artful Codger
Date: 03 Nov 06 - 07:27 PM

The Tenderfoot
from Songs of the Cowboys, N. Howard "Jack" Thorp (ed.), 1908.
credited to Yank Hitson, Denver, Colorado, 1889.

1. I thought one spring just for fun
I'd see how cow-punching was done
So before the roundup was begun
I tackled the cattle king.

2. Said he "my boss is down in town
He's at the Palace, his name is Brown;
I think to the ranch he'll take you down."
"That's what I want," says I.

3. We started to the ranch next day
Brown augured me most all the way
Told me cow-punching was just child's play
It was no work at all.

4. For all you have to do is ride
Its only drifting with the tide
Oh how that old cow puncher lied
He surely had his gall.

[Per Fife and Fife, verse 9 should go here.]

5. Put me in charge of the Caballada
And told me not to work too hard
For all I had to do was ride
And keep the horses near.

6. I had one hundred and sixty head
Sometimes I wished that I were dead
Brown's head would often get bright red
If any got away.

7. Straight to the bushes they would take
As if they were running for a stake
I've often wished their necks they'd break
But they would never fall.

8 Sometimes I couldn't head them all
At other times my horse would fall
And I'd roll on like a cannon ball
Till earth got in my way.

9. He saddled me up an old gray hack
With three set-fasts upon his back
Then padded him up with gunny sacks
And used my bedding all.

10. When I got on he gave a bound
Sprung in the air and turned around
Just then my head hit on the ground
It was an awful fall.

11. He picked me up and carried me in
He bathed my head and commenced to grin
Says that's the way they all begin
You're doing very well.

12. To-morrow morning if you don't croak
I'll give you another horse that's broke
You'll not need a saddle or even a rope
"No, I'll quit right here," says I.

[Thorp supplied the following verses in the 1921 edition.]

13. I've travelled up and I've travelled down,
I've travelled this country round and round,
I've lived in city and I've lived in town,
But I've got this much to say.

14. Before you try cow-punching, kiss your wife,
Take a heavy insurance on your life,
Then cut your throat with a barlow knife,--
For it's easier done that way.

5.1 caballada = string of saddle horses used on trail or roundup
9.2 set-fasts = saddle sores
11.2 Other versions typically have the boss rolling the puncher down with a pin of some sort (e.g. picket pin or rolling pin.)

I've only changed the original text by adding bylines, verse numbers and bracketed notes.

Other titles for this song: "The Tenderfoot Cowboy", "A Tenderfoot's Experience", "The City Cowboy", "The Greenhorn [Cowboy]", "The Greenhorn's Experience", "The [D2] Horse Wrangler".

["The Zebra Dun" is also sometimes titled "The Tenderfoot", but is a different song. Thorp collected it under the title "The Educated Feller" (SotC, 1908).]

Authorship of "The Tenderfoot" is disputed. In the 1921 edition of SotC, Thorp credits Yank Hitson. [No credits were furnished for any songs in the first edition, not even for poems/songs Thorp wrote himself.] It was submitted to John Lomax by A.S. Jackson of Dickens, Texas, who claimed to have written it with another "puncher" in the summer of 1879 on a trip from Texas to Colorado. R.D. Mack also claimed to have written it.

In a letter dated April 4, 1932, O'Malley claimed to have written it in 1893 (he titled it "The D2 Horse Wrangler"), but J. Frank Dobie contested some of O'Malley's other claims, and asserted that "The Horse Wrangler" was certainly older than that.

The DT MIDI is similar to the tune in Carl Sandburg's The American Songbag:

T:"The Tenderfoot"
C:From _The American Songbag_ (p. 274), ed. Carl Sandburg, 1927

Z:As sung by Norman Byrne of the University of Oregon,
Z:as he learned it in Alberta Canada.
C | F2 G A2 B | c2 d c2 c | d2 d A2 A | c2 c F2 c|
F2 G A2 B | c2 d c2 A | c c c d2 A | c3 z2 c |
d2 d B2 B | c2 c A2 A | B B B G G G | A2 A F2 C |
F2 G A2 B | c2 d c2 F | c2 B A2 G |1 F3-F2 :|2 F6 ||

The Fife's supplied these chords, derived from Hazel Felman's arrangement in the Songbag:
| F Dm | F Am | Bb Dm | Am F |
" Dm | F Am | C+ Dm | C7 |
Bb | Am | Bbm | Gbm |
F | " Dm | F | C C7 | F |
(A bit busy and arty for authentic cowboy harmony!)

The most widely known tune, though, is probably the one from Jules Verne Allen's Cowboy Lore. And more typical: only eight bars (one verse per pass, instead of two) and 2-1/2 chords (C and G(7)).

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Tenderfoot (from Thorp)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 03 Nov 06 - 08:19 PM

Tony Kraber recorded this one in the 1940's as well. There were not as many verses but he did a splendid job of delivering the story. Here is what he sang:

The Tenderfoot

One day I thought I'd have some fun
And see how cowpunching was done,
So when the round-up had begun
I tackled the cattle king;
He said his foreman's gone to town,
He's in a saloon, his name is Brown;
If you see him he'll take you down;
Says I, "That's just the thing!"

We rode out to the ranch next day,
Brown talked to me most of the way
Saying, "Cowpunching is only play,
It is no work at all;
All you ever do is ride,
It's just like drifting with the tide";
That son-of-a-gun, oh, how he lied!
He certainly had his gall!

They saddled me up an old gray hack,
With two set-fasts on his back;
They padded him down with a gunny sack,
And my bedding all;
When I got on him he left the ground,
Went up in the air and circled around;
Then I came down and busted the ground;
My god, one hell of a fall!

They picked me up and carried me in,
And rubbed me down with a doggie skin;
"That's the way they all begin;
You're doing fine," says Brown;
"And if tomorrow morn you don't die,
We'll give you another ho'se to try."
"Oh, can't I walk?" says I
Says Brown, "Right back to town!"

I've traveled up; I've traveled down;
I've lived in cities; I've lived in towns;
I've traveled this whole wide world around
And I've got this much to say:
Before you try cowpunching, kiss your wife;
Take a great big insurance on your life;
Then cut your throat with a butcher knife
For it's easier done that way!

Charley Noble

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Tenderfoot (from Thorp)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 03 Nov 06 - 08:43 PM

In the 1908 "Songs of the Cowboys," the verse beginning "He saddled me up...." is verse five, not nine: facsimile of Thorp 1908 in 1966 volume, confusingly titled "Songs of The Cowboys" by N. Howard (Jack) Thorp, Variants, Commentary, Notes and Lexicon, by Austin E. and Alta S. Fife, 1966; where the verses are in the numbered order 1, 2, 3, 4, 9, 5, the Fife text p. 47; as remarked in the post by Artful Codger).

John A. Lomax, in "Cowboy Songs," 1925, titled the song "The Horse Wrangler" He provided no notes; this may have appeared first in the 1910 or 1916 printings, but I don't have those). A few lines differ, and he added the verse "I've travelled up...." which has a different 'feel' from the others. Laws and The Traditional Ballads Index use this title (Thorp's original 1908 paper not consulted).

Lomax and Lomax, 1938, "Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads," again printed the verses from the earlier edition and added two tunes, the first without remark and the second adapted from Pat Rooney's tune in the New York Mercury, 1902. They state, "The original of this song was published in the Miles City (Montana) Stock Grower's Journal, Feb. 3, 1894, under the pseudonym R, J. Stovall. The author's real name is D. J. O'Malley, and he lives in Eau Clare, Wisconsin. Typical of the Lomaxes, no mention is made of Thorp in the notes.

Probably working from manuscript notes, Fife and Fife (1966) state (see Artful Codger, above), "It was submitted to John A. Lomax by A. S. Jackson of Dickens, Texas, sometime after 1907, with the significant statement: "I am sending....composed by myself and another puncher during the summer of '79....."

Jules Verne Allen published his version, with a different tune, in "Cowboy Lore," 1935, p. 89-90. Fife and Fife simplify the notation of the tune printed by Verne.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Tenderfoot (from Thorp)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 03 Nov 06 - 09:15 PM

Lyr. Add: THE HORSE WRANGLER or The Tenderfoot
Jules Verne Allen text

I went out west to have some fun,
To see how punchin' cows was done,
and when the round ups had begun
I bonnered a cattle King.

He says my foreman is down in town
He's at the Plaza, his name is Brown,
Now you see him and he'll take you down
Says I that's just the thing.

Brown he took me down next day;
And he augered with me all the way;
He said all I had to do was ride;
Just like drifting with the tide.
But the son-of-gun, oh how he lied;
He surely had his gall.
He put me in charge of a cavyard
With a hundred and fifty head to guard;
And all I had to do was guard
The horses from getting away.

Some times a pony he would break,
And across the prairie he would take,
Some times I couldn't head 'em at all,
Down comes wrangler horse and all
But that's the way they do.

They cut me out an old white rack,
That had two set-fasts on his back,
They padded him up with a gunny sack
And took my bedding all;
When I got on he left the ground
Went into the air and whirled around,
Then I come down with an awful sound;
It was a terrible fall.

They picked me up and carried me in
And rubbed me down with a rollin' pin.
"That's the way they all begin,
And you're doin' fine, says Brown.
"And if tomorrow you don't die
I'll have another for you to try.
"Oh, can't I walk," says I to Brown.
"Yes, back to town, says Brown.

I've rambled up and I've rambled down,
I've rambled the whole wide world around;
I've lived in cities and I've lived (in) towns,
And I've got this much to say:
'For try cowpunching just kiss your wife
Take out a policy on your life,
Then cut your throat with a butcher knife,
For it's far the easier way.

With score, pp. 89-90, Jules Verne Allen, 1935, "Cowboy Lore," The Naylor Company, San Antonio, Texas.
Jules Verne Allen was known as the "Original Singing Cowboy," title copyright by RCA-Victor and Southern Music Publishing Company.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Tenderfoot (from Thorp)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 03 Nov 06 - 09:36 PM

Glenn Ohrlin, 1973, "The Hell-Bound Train, A Cowboy Songbook," Univ. Illinois Press, p. 45-46:
"Another song from my earliest working days is "Cowboy's Life" (also known as "The Tenderfoot" and "The Horse Wrangler").... The verses first appeared as a poem entitled "D2 Horse Wrangler" in a livestock journal printed in Miles City, Montana. It was written by cowboy poet D. J. O'Malley." The melody used by Ohrlin is given, pp. 45-46.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Tenderfoot (from Thorp)
From: Lighter
Date: 03 Nov 06 - 09:43 PM

The ubiquitous Oscar Brand recorded "The Tenderfoot" in a fairly standard version. One variant stanza was,

Sometimes the cattle would make a break,
Across the prairie they would take,
Just like they was running for a stake,
Or maybe a raise in pay.

Brand included the line "went up in the air and circled around," which would be quite an accomplishment for any equine short of Pegasus.

They rubbed the poor fool down "with a rolling pin....Sez Brown, 'Git back to town!'" IIRC, Brand prescribed a "Bowie knife."

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Tenderfoot (from Thorp)
From: Lighter
Date: 03 Nov 06 - 09:55 PM

There's a version collected in Bismarck, N.D., in Journal of American Folk-Lore, vol. 26, 1913, pp. 185-86. It's called "Punching Cows" and also features a therapeutic "rolling pin."

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Tenderfoot (from Thorp)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 03 Nov 06 - 10:19 PM

The version "Punchin' Cows" also appeared in Farm and Ranch, XXXII, April 12, 1913, acc. to the references in Fife and Fife 1966.
They do not reproduce it.
Lighter, if it has some different material, would you please post it?

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Tenderfoot (from Thorp)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 04 Nov 06 - 09:21 AM

Nice to hear so much more about this old song!

Tony Kraber, by the way, was one of the ones whose musical career was badly injured by Burl Ives testimony during the 1950's Red Scare/Witch Hunt days. Tony was active with The Group Theatre productions in NYC. He was good friends with Earl Robinson, Paul Robeson, and Josh White.

Tony's recording was titled Songs of the Old Chisholm Trail: Americana LP 8557.

Charley Noble

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