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> Cowboy Songs, a unique facet of Americana
Blue Willy
post Jun 12 2013, 03:54 AM
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I've been singing cowboy songs ever since I was a small child. I received some recordings of cowboy songs as a gift when I was 5 years old. Up until this point I had not heard any music in our house except for classical music, of which my parents had a large collection of recordings. When I heard the music accompanying the singer, I did not recognize the instrument and so I asked my mother what the instrument was. My mother told me that it was a guitar. I told her that I wanted to play the guitar when I grew up. It was because of those records that I play guitar today.

Here is one called Strawberry Roan. This is one of the most famous of cowboy songs and is certainly one of the top five of this genre ever written. It is considered by most cowboy music fans to be the best horse song ever written. The words were written in 1915 by a young Nevada cowboy named Curley Fletcher after he witnessed a spectacular ride of a wild bronco on the ranch where he lived and worked. The poem was published in a local Nevada paper the following year. It was soon set to music, first being recorded about 1931. The song soon appeared in the Broadway play Green Grow the Lilacs, sung by singer/actor (and cowboy!) Tex Ritter. Soon thereafter a Hollywood movie was made from the story told in the song. I can't think of any other movie that was made using a song as the story line. Eventually the song appeared in Oklahoma! a Broadway musical. Unfortunately for Curley Fletcher, the song had been copyrighted by a couple of New York songwriters and Curley spent years in court before he finally was awarded the rights to his own song! I recorded three guitar parts to back the vocal and strove for an authentic sound and a danceable waltz groove.


If there is interest shown in this topic I will post more of my favorite songs here.


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Mike

"The business ain't nothin' but the blues!" - Rahsaan Roland Kirk


Inductee in the Blues Hall of Fame, March 14, 2012.

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YouTube: Michael Ray Wilhelm, Blusician, guitar & vocal
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Blue Willy
post Jun 12 2013, 05:51 AM
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"The Pecos River Queen"
Another cowboy song or in this case a cowgirl song. biggrin.gif

In 1892 the Southern Pacific Railroad constructed a new bridge over the Pecos River Gorge near Langtry, Texas at the behest of Lines West chief Jim Converse. It replaced an earlier bridge at the mouth of the Pecos where it enters the Rio Grande and eliminated many miles of track, several tunnels and precluded the need for helper engines to get trains up out of the gorge. The spidery steel trestle was constructed in less than 3 months. It measured over 1,220 feet long and 321 feet (about 100 meters) high and was the highest railroad bridge in the United States and remains so today although the structure was replaced with a heavier bridge near the end of World War II.

Shortly after the bridge opened for traffic, a young cowgirl named Patty Moorhead rode her horse across the structure on the two foot wide board catwalk and returned by the same route. There was no safety railing. The feat has never been duplicated. It seems a cowpuncher had proposed marriage to Patty. She asked the cowboy why she should marry him. He said he would do anything for her and would willingly die for her. She told him she was going for a ride and asked him to come along. He balked at following her across the bridge and so she did not marry him. tongue.gif laugh.gif

Judge Roy Bean ("Law west of the Pecos") told cowboy songster and poet Jack Thorp the story and Jack wrote this song to commemorate the amazing feat of daring.


This post has been edited by Blue Willy: Jun 12 2013, 05:58 AM


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Mike

"The business ain't nothin' but the blues!" - Rahsaan Roland Kirk


Inductee in the Blues Hall of Fame, March 14, 2012.

Mike-Wilhelm.com
YouTube: Michael Ray Wilhelm, Blusician, guitar & vocal
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klasaine
post Jun 12 2013, 05:29 PM
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Though I am a city boy through and through my first records were a Burl Ives album and a Pete Seeger record. Probably more 'worker' themes in general but that sparked my interest in both guitars (and banjos) and cowboys/railroads.
Love the 'Pecos River Queen'.


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