Archive for the 'Cowboy' Category

The Brazos River,

h1 Friday, January 1st, 1999

Frank Hamilton, and his wife Mary stopped by the house to say hello. I hadn’t seen Frank since the mid 60’s in Los Angeles, and we had a great time catching up, although we barely scratched the surface.

Frank had taught me to play guitar, and banjo at the Old Town School of Folk Music, in Chicago, from 1957 to 1960.

He showed me a song that he’d performed with the Weavers, and said that Pete Seeger had bemoaned the fact that this song hadn’t been published in Singout, and that it was in danger of getting lost. That makes it an ideal candidate for the Folk Den.

Here are Frank and Mary Hamilton singing The Brazos River, with me playing 12-string and banjo backup.

The cool Angelina runs lofty and gliding
A F#m B7 E
The crooked Colorado runs weaving and winding
A F#m D A
The Red River runs rusty, the Wichita clear
A F#m E A
But Down by the Brazos, I courted my dear

I la lie lee lee lee give me your hand
I la lie lee lee lee give me your hand
I la lie lee lee lee give me your hand
There’s many a river that waters the land

She hugged me and she kissed me
And she called me her dandy
The Brazos is muddy,
And sometimes quick sandy

She hugged me and she kissed me
And called me her own
But down by the Brazos
She left me alone

Now the girls of them rivers
They’re plump and they’re pretty
The Supine and the Sulfur
Have many a beauty

I may wander the rivers
And many a shore,
But down by the Brazos
I’ll wander no more

I la lie lee lee lee give me your hand
I la lie lee lee lee give me your hand
I la lie lee lee lee give me your hand
There’s many a river that waters the land X2

Home On The Range

h1 Tuesday, September 1st, 1998

In the mid to late 40s, I was in love with the Wild West. I had cowboy boots, two cap guns, a cowboy hat, and Roy Rogers was my hero. It was a magical time when the lines between good and evil were so clearly defined, and the good guys always won. I have wonderful memories of riding the range of Chicago on my bicycle, and singing the cowboy songs that I heard on the radio. This was one of those songs. According to Alan Lomax, it was first printed in 1911, and for twenty years attracted practically no attention. It is said to have been sung on the doorstep of Franklin D. Roosevelt's home by a group of newspaper reporters the night he was first elected president. So here it is in honor of the late Roy Rogers.
[G] Oh give me a home where the [C] buffalo roam
And the [G] deer and the antelope [D] play
Where [G] seldom is heard a [C] discouraging word
And the [G] skies are not [D] cloudy all [G] day

Home home on the range
Where the deer and the antelope [D] play
Where [G] seldom is heard a [C] discouraging word
And the [G] skies are not [C] cloudy
The [G] skies are not [C] cloudy
The [G] skies are not [D] cloudy all [G] day

How often at night when the heavens are bright
With the lights from the glittering stars
Have I stood there amazed and asked as I gazed
If their glory exceeds that of ours

Oh give me a land where the bright diamond sand
Flows leisurely down the stream;
There the graceful, white swan goes gliding along
Like a maid in a heavenly dream


Where the air is so pure, the zephyrs so free
The breezes so balmy and light
That I would not exchange my home on the range
For all of the cities so bright


Note on Author:

Dr. Brewster Higley (b. 1822) of Indiana wrote this song when he lived in Kansas. The words were printed in a local paper (1873) and became a favorite song along the cattle trails. First published in 1910. The author never saw nor received a cent of royalty. His last home was in Shawnee, Ok., where he died May 17, 1911.

Thanks to David Fox for providing this information.

� Arr. 1998 McGuinn Music Roger McGuinn

Brisbane Ladies

h1 Tuesday, April 1st, 1997


I first heard this song when Hoyt Axton sang it to me
at the Troubadour in Los Angeles in 1962. He wanted me to sing harmony
on it for his recording ‘THE BALLADEER,’ on Horizon Records, WP 1601.

We recorded it live at the Troubadour later that week, and when it
came out, I was surprised to see the credit ‘Here as well is the
delightful Australian folk ballad, Brisbane Ladies, on which Jimmy
McQuinn of the Chad Mitchell Trio harmonizes with Hoyt.’

In spite of the misspelled name, I was glad to have been able to sing with Hoyt. I really loved the song too!

Here’s a new recording of Brisbane Ladies done especially for the
Folk Den. The harmony part is the same one I sang on the Hoyt Axton

(Saul Mendelsohn)

[Em] Farewell and adieu to [G] you, Brisbane [D] ladies
[Em] Farewell and adieu, you [G] maids of [D] Toowong
[Em] We’ve sold all our [D] cattle and we [C] have to get a [Em] movin’
[Em] But we hope we shall [D] see you [C] again before [Em] long.

cho: We’ll rant and we’ll roar like true Queensland drovers
We’ll rant and we’ll roar as onward we push
Until we return to the Augathella station
Oh, it’s flamin’ dry goin’ through the old Queensland bush.

The maids of Toomancie they look so entrancing
Like bawling young heifers they’re out for their fun
With the waltz and the polka and all kinds of dancing
To the rackety old banjo of Henry Gunn.

Then on to Nanango, that hard-bitten township
Where the out-of-work station-hands sit in the dust,
Where the shearers get shorn by old Tim, the contractor
Oh, I wouldn’t go near there, but I flaming well must!

Then fill up your glasses, and drink to the lasses,
We’ll drink this town dry, then farewell to them all
And when we’ve got back to the Augathella Station,
We hope you’ll come by there and pay us a call.

Written by Saul Mendelsohn, printed as a broadside.
repr. Queensland Boomerang, 1891. In most Australian
collections; cf. ‘Spanish Ladies’

Tune: Spanish Ladies (minor version)
� 1998 McGuinn Music – Roger McGuinn

Buffalo Skinners

h1 Saturday, June 1st, 1996


At four o'clock in the morning when the bars all closed in Chicago, a few of us would go out for breakfast. There were musicians, singers and people who worked at the various bars and nightclubs along Rush Street. Herb O'Brian was a tall fellow with a mustache and a big bass voice who worked as the bartender at Easy Street. He liked to drink 151 proof rum and sing one song a cappella, over and over as we ate steak and eggs. Here is the song he sang.
[Bm] 'Twas in the town of [A] Jacksburo, in the [G] year of [Bm]'73
That a [D] man by the name of [G] Kre- [A] ggo come [D] walking up to [G] me
Saying [D] how you doing young [G] fel- [A] ler and [D] would you like to [G] go
To [Bm] spend the summer [A] pleasantly on the [G] range of the [Bm] buffalo

Me being out of employment, to Kreggo I did say
This summer on the buffalo range depends upon the pay
For if you pay good wages, transportation to and fro'
It's likely I go with you to the range of the buffalo

Yes I will pay good wages, and transportation too
If you'll agree to work for me until the season's through
But if you do get homesick and you try to run away
You'll starve to death on the buffalo range, and also lose your pay

With all this fancy talking he set up quite a plan
Some ten or twelve in number, all able bodied men
Our trip it was a pleasant one as we hit the westward road
Until we reached Las Cruces in old New Mexico

Well then our pleasures ended and our troubles they begun
When lightning struck the wagon boys and made the buffalo run
A thousand head a-breathin' fire, stampeding they did go
And outlaws waiting to pick us off from the hills of Mexico

Well the working season ended but the drover would not pay
He said 'you boys been extravagant , your all in debt to me'
But the cowboys never heard such a thing as a bankrupt drover-o
So they left his bones to bleach in the hills of Mexico

Across the Rio Grande my boys and homeward we are bound
No one on this buffalo range will ever more be found
Go home to your wives and sweethearts, tell others not to go
To spend the summer pleasantly on the range of the buffalo

Old Paint

h1 Wednesday, November 1st, 1995


Old Paint is a song that tells the story of the special relationship between a cowboy and his horse. The setting is in the 1800s, when adventurous people forged westward in search of greater freedom and happiness. The last verse is especially interesting where the cowboy wants to be entombed, as it where, on the back of his pony, traveling across the endless prairie. This is clearly a metaphor for man's quest for eternal life.

A coulee is a depression in the prairie; a draw is, almost a ravine.

On this song I used a Martin D-12-45 with a capo on the second fret. The recording is in the key of 'A' but the chord pattern is in the key of 'G.'

[G] I ride an old [Em] paint, I [G] lead an old [Em] Dan
I'm [D] goin' to Montan' for to [G] throw the hoo-li-an
They [D] feed in the cou-lees, they [G] water in the draw
Their [D] tails are all matted, and their [C] backs are all [G] raw
Ride [D] around little dogies, [G] ride around slow
For the [D] Firey and Snuffy are a [C] rarin' to [G] go

Old Bill Jones had a daughter and a son
One went to college and the other went wrong
His wife she died in a pool-room fight
And still he keeps singing from morning 'til night
Ride around little dogies, ride around slow
For the Firey and Snuffy are a rarin' to go

When I die take my saddle from the wall
Lead me down to my pony, take him out of his stall
Put my bones on his back, point our faces to the west
And we'll ride the prairie, that we love the best
Ride around little dogies, ride around slow
For the Firey and Snuffy are a rarin' to go