The dim creek flickers to the lonesome starts; The trail twists down the dark. The ridge pines whimper to the pines below. The wind is blowin' and I want you so. The birch has yellowed since I saw you last, The Fall haze blued as the creeks, The big pine bellowed as the snow swished past, But still, above the peaks, The same stars twinkle that we used to know. The stars up yonder wait at the end of time But earth fires soon go black. I trip and wander on the trail I climb-- A fool who will look back To glimpse a fire dead a year ago.
Who says the lover kills the man in me? Beneath the day's hot blue This thing hunts cover and my heart fights free To laugh an hour or two. But now it wavers like a wounded doe. Wrangle up your mouth-harps, drag your banjo out, Tune your old guitarra till she twangs right stout, For the snow is on the mountains and the wind is on the plain, But we'll cut the chimney's moanin' with a livelier refrain. Shinin' 'dobe fireplace, shadows on the wall-- See old Shorty's friv'lous toes a-twitchin' at the call: It's the best grand high that there is within the law When seven jolly punchers tackle "Turkey in the Straw.
Freezy was the day's ride, lengthy was the trail, Ev'ry steer was haughty with a high arched tail, But we held 'em and we shoved 'em for our longin' hearts were tried, By a yearlin' for tobacker and our dear fireside. Swing 'er into stop-time, don't you let'er droop!
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You're about as tuneful as a coyote with the croup! Ay, the cold wind bit when we drifted down the draw, But we drifted on to comfort and to "Turkey in the Straw. Snarlin' when the rain whipped, cussin' at the ford-- Ev'ry mile of twenty was a long discord, But the night is brimmin' music and its glory is complete When the eye is razzle-dazzled by the flip o' Shorty's feet! Snappy for the dance, now, till she up and shoots! Don't he beat the devil's wife for jiggin' in 'is boots? Shorty got throwed high and we laughed till he was raw But tonight he's done forgot it prancin' "Turkey in the Straw.
Rainy dark or firelight, bacon rind or pie, Livin' is a luxury that don't come high: Oh, be happy and onruly while our years and luck allow, For we all must die or marry less than forty years from now! Lively on the last turn! Ay, the storm wind sings and old trouble sucks his paw When we have an hour of firelight set to "Turkey in the Straw. The April days are sun and sun; the last thin cloud is fled.
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Did you ever see the comin' of the Rains? Sometimes a nearly-identical poem called "Way Out West" is attributed to cowboy, writer, and detective Charles A. Siringo read more about him in the Handbook of Texas Online. That attribution appears in John A. In Siringo's book, he gives the proper credit to Badger Clark and writes:. When the time comes for putting me under the sod, I hope the little verse by Badger Clarke sic , Jr. The verse was dug up from the William E. Hawks collection of cowboy songs as appropriate for the wind-up of a fool cowboy's life history.
William E. Hawks, of Bennington, Vermont, a cowboy of the old school, has been fifteen years gathering cowboy songs and data, with a view of publishing a true history of the early day cattle business, so that posterity will know the class of dare-devils who paved the way for the man with a hoe. The hoe-man will need no history for the benefit of posterity, as he is here to stay. When once he plants his feet on the soil, time or cyclones cannot jar him loose. With skyline bounds from east to west And room to go and come, I liked my fellow man the best When he was scattered some.
When my old soul hunts range and rest Beyond the last divide, Just plant me on some strip of west That's sunny, lone and wide. Let cattle rub my tombstone round, And coyotes wail their kin, Let hosses come and paw and the mound But don't you fence it in! Lomax did give the poem the proper attribution in his Songs of the Cattle Trail and Cow Camp , first printed in You can read and download the entire text of that book at the Internet Archive. Don Edwards ' "The Old Cow Man" is inspired by the poem, and you can see a video of a performance of that here.
Out of blue silences eerily. The Legend of Boastful Bill. Someone hand me up the makin's of a smoke! If this blue-eyed darlin' kicks at you, you die! Now I'm last of all rough riders, and the best. He writes, ".. Bill goes on one hell of a ride, but as a challenge this raging bronc is for Boastful Bill about like hairpinning Aunt Maude's milk cow Clark wrote the poem in and our version is from Clark's Sun and Saddle Leather , first published in John Lomax included the poem in his book, Songs of the Cattle Trail and Cow Camp , transcribed from a recitation.
Watch Dave Stamey's outstanding performance of this song here.
View the entire show here. Are you the same as the God of the streets? What are words when my heart talks with you? Help me see you in the God of the street. But with a touch of your own old pride Grant me to travel the way I ride. For a man is a man, but he's partly a beast. He'll cry for it all, for that's his way And yet he may understand some day. He marked His reserves with these plain signs And stationed His rangers to guard the lines. So the folks all shy from desert land, 'Cept mebbe a few that kin understand. Settle down, you cattle, till the mornin'.
Hee—ya, tammalalleday! No use runnin' out to meet the mornin'. So—o, now, for dreams they never pay. The dust it keeps you blinkin'. We're seven miles from drinkin'. But we got to stand it till the mornin'. Mostly it's a moonlight world our trail winds through. Kain't see much beyond our saddle horns.
So—o, now. Mocking-birds don't sing until the mornin'. All of us are waitin' for the mornin'.
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There are some lyrics and an audio file here: here at Mudcat. We kin get there in plenty of time. If you lather your hawse to the heel! Got to sleep, pardner mine, go to sleep. The daybreak comes so pure and still. He said that I was pure as dawn, That day we climbed to Signal Hill. Back there before the war came on. God keep me pure as he is brave, And fit to take his name.
I let him go and fight to save Some other girl from shame. Across the gulch it glimmers white, The little house we plotted for. We would be sitting here tonight If he had never gone to war-- The firelight and the cricket's cheep, My arm around his neck-- I let him go and fight to keep Some other home from wreck.
And every day I ride to town The wide lands talk to me of him-- The slopes with pine trees marching down, The spread-out prairies, blue and dim. He loved it for the freedom's sake Almost as he loved me. I let him go and fight to make Some other country free. Ay, the Border, the bright, placid Border!
Out from the ranch on a Saturday night, Ridin' a hawse that's a shootin' star, Close on the flanks of the flyin' daylight, Racin' with dark for the J L Bar. Fox-trot and canter will do for the day; It's a gallop, my love, when I'm ridin' your way. Up the arroyo the trippin' hoofs beat, Flingin' the hinderin' gravel wide; Now your light glimmers across the mesquite, Glimpsed from the top of a rocky divide; Down through a draw where the shadows are gray I'm comin', my darlin', I'm ridin' your way.
West, where the sky is a-blushin' afar, Matchin' your cheeks as the daylight dies, West, where the shine of a glitterin' star Hints of the light I will find in your eyes, Night-birds are passin' the signal to say: "He's comin', my lady, he's ridin' your way. Hoof-beats are measurin' seconds so fast, Clickin' them off with an easy rhyme; Minutes will grow into months at the last, Mebbe to bring us a marryin' time. Life would be singin' and work would be play If every night I was ridin' your way.
Chant your warwhoop, pardners dear, while the east turns pale with fear And the chaparral is tremblin' all aroun' For we're qicked to the marrer; we're a mid-night dream of terror When we're ridin' up the rocky trail from town! Sing 'er out, my buckeroos! Let the desert hear the news. Tell the stars the way we rubbed the haughty down. We're the fiercest wolves a-prowlin' and it's just our night for howlin' When we're ridin' up the rocky trail from town. Singer 'er out, my bold coyotes! We're the sons of desolation, we're the outlaws of creation— Ee—yow!
Oh, the smoke-blue plains! Oh, the warm, safe nights, and the pine above the shingles! Can I stand its crooning and the patter of the rains? In , the poem was included in the Century magazine, under the title of "The Drafted Man.
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Shall I always see him as he waved above the turning, Riding down the canyon to the smoke-blue plains? So wise! But still the child is in your eyes. So strong! But still the fear is in your eyes. So great! But still their longing in your eyes. So proud! Yet their old wonder in your eyes! So hard! But still the god is in your eyes. A puzzled child within your eyes. El pobre! And the way six-year Billy could ride! The Old Prospector. Why, you are all prospectors, bless you!
I'm only a branch of the trade. You can listen to her perform the poem at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering here. Find more about Jerry Brooks in our feature here. A medicine man the gods may balk— Go fight for us with the thunder hawk! I fight you the thunder hawk! The braves yelled terror and loosed the rain And scattered far on the drowning plain. He smiled with a light disdain. That smile was glory to all his clan But none dared touch the medicine man. The web site reports, "The foundation will oversee the reprinting and distribution of Clark's five volumes of work as well as other materials about Clark.
Among the titles available:. We receive many queries about poems, and more about Badger Clark poems than those of any other poet. To help visitors find which poems are where, below are the indexes to three of the most popular collections of his work. From the Preface to the edition:.
Cowboys are the sternest critics of those who would represent the West. No hypocrisy, no bluff, no pose can evade them. Yet cowboys have made Badger Clark's songs their own. So readily have they circulated that often the man who sings the song could not tell you where it started. Many of the poems have become folk songs of the West, we may say of America, for they speak of freedom and the open. Generous has been the praise given Sun and Saddle Leather , but perhaps no criticism has summed up the work so satisfactorily as the comment of the old cowman who said, "You can break me if there's a dead poem in the book, I will read the hull of it.
Who in H is this kid Clark, anyway? That is what proves Badger Clark the real poet. He knows. Beyond his wonderful presentation of the West is the quality of universal appeal that makes his work real art. He has tied the West to the universe. The old cowman is not the only one who has wondered who Badger Clark was.
I should like to know more of the author, whether he was a cow-puncher or merely got inside his psychology by imagination. Badger Clark was born January 1, , at Albia, Iowa. His ancestors on his father's side were of puritan stock and had called themselves Americans for seven generations. His mother's people were Pennsylvania Quakers.
His paternal grandfather, a Vermonter, moved West in and invested heavily in a town site and manufacturing interests in southern Missouri. He was an Abolitionist and indiscreet enough to say so. The climate of southern Missouri was particularly insalubrious for Abolitionists at that period, and Mr. Clark's neighbors took such an ardent interest in his opinions that he, with his two sons, slept away from home for two months because they were expecting to be the guests of honor at a tar-and-feather party and did not care to involve the women-folk of the family. As the Civil War drew on, the tar-and-feather threat was complicated with strong possibilities of hemp and this, with malaria, made the location so unattractive that Mr.
Clark trailed north into Iowa, arriving on free soil with his family, two wagon loads of household effects, and about one hundred and fifty dollars in money. The father of the author, after this border experience, naturally enlisted in the Union army, and served the Western forces until disabled by wounds before Vicksburg. Returning north he entered the ministry of the Methodist church and continued therein for the rest of his active life, retiring in after an exceptionally successful and honored career of fifty-one years in the pulpit.
Shortly after the birth of Badger Clark the family moved to Dakota, which was then frontier territory, and the cowboy poet's first taste of pioneering was at the age of six months, when his mother, in the absence of his father and elder brothers, carried him on one arm while she drove a plow team and turned enough sod to save the home from one of the sudden prairie fires of the early days. He grew up in, and with, the state of South Dakota, spending his 'teen years in the Black Hills at Deadwood.
Deadwood at that time was trying to live down the reputation for exuberant indecorum which she had acquired during the gold rush, but her five churches operating two hours a week could make little headway against the competition of two dance halls and twenty-six saloons running twenty-four hours a day. This "wide open" condition of things familiarized Mr. Clark with the free-and-easy moral atmosphere of the old West, but at the same time had the odd effect of making him a teetotaler in defiance of all the older poetic traditions. During his youth he showed no particular literary tendencies beyond an insatiable appetite for books.
Luckily for his health this was balanced by an equally strong passion for outdoor life,--hunting, fishing, camping or anything or that sort, providing it was not sufficiently practical to interfere with concurrent dreaming. During two vacations of his high school course he went overland into western Wyoming and spent the summer on the ranch of an uncle at the foot of the Big Horn Mountains. Having finished the high school with no particular scholastic honors, he entered Dakota Wesleyan University and studied there for a year.
At the end of that time he was given an opportunity to go to Cuba in connection with one of the colonizing enterprises undertaken there at the close of the Spanish war, and lack of money and a romantic temperament led him to abandon his studies for the promise of a more adventurous life under tropic skies,--a step he afterward regretted.
The colonization project fell through and his fellow colonists returned to the States, but he had fallen in love with opalescent surf and the rustle of warm trade winds in the palms, and so, in the spirit of the lotos-eaters and with about the same business prospects, he stayed. While working on a Camaquey plantation a year later he had the misfortune to be present at a dispute between his employer and two native neighbors over a boundary fence in the jungle. In the course of the argument one of the natives was shot and Clark, with the usual fate of innocent bystanders, shortly found himself in irons and on the way to the carcel.
During the two weeks which elapsed before the arrival of the cash for his bail, he spent his times in a cell with seventeen Spanish negroes and a dog-eared copy of the Rubaiyat handed in by an American friend on the outside. For six months thereafter he divided his attention between plantation work, paludic fever, and a practical course in Spanish legal procedure, at the end of which time he was tried and acquitted, and then turned his face toward home in much the same mental and material condition as the prodigal son of old. The summer of his return was spent very much to his taste, with a surveying party in the Bad Lands of South Dakota.
That fall he took up an agency for a correspondence school but indifference to the charms of the business game and a constitutional aversion to dunning anybody militated against his success and he resigned in a few months to accept the city editorship of a small daily paper in Lead, South Dakota. This pleased him better, but he became too deeply interested in it and overwork, together with the after effect of tropical fever, led to a sentence of exile from his beloved Black Hills for at least two years, in obedience to which he journeyed south to Arizona.
In the cow country near the Mexican border, Badger Clark stumbled unexpectedly into paradise. He was given charge of a small ranch and the responsibility for a bunch of cattle just large enough to amuse him but too small to demand a full day's work once a month. The sky was persistently blue, the sunlight was richly golden, the folks of the barren mountains and the wide reaches of the range were full of many lovely colors, and his nearest neighbor was eight miles away.
The cowmen who dropped in for a meal now and then in the course of their interminable riding appeared to have ridden directly out of books of adventure, with old young faces full of sun wrinkles, careless mouths full of bad grammar, strange oaths and stranger yarns, and hearts for the most part as open and shadowless as the country they daily ranged,. In the evenings as Clark placed his boot heels on the porch railing, smote the strings of his guitar, and broke the tense silence of the warm, dry twilight with song, he often wondered, as his eyes rested dreamily on the spikey yuccas that stood out sharp and black against the clear lemon color of the sunset west, why hermit life in the desert was traditionally a sad, penitential affair.
In a letter to his mother a month or two after settling in Arizona, he found prose too weak to express his utter content and perpetuated his first verses. She, with natural pride, sent the verses to a magazine, the old Pacific Monthly , and a week or two later the desert dweller was astonished beyond measure to receive his first editorial check. The discovery that certain people in the world were willing to pay money for such rhymes as he could write bent the whole course of his subsequent life, for good or evil, and the occasional lyric impulse hardened into a habit which has consumed much of his time and most of his serious thought since that date.
The verses written to his mother were Ridin ' , the first poem in his first book, Sun and Saddle Leather , and the greater part of the poems in both Sun and Saddle Leather and Grass Grown Trails were written in Arizona. He remained in the border country for four years and finally said good-bye to the desert with regret. He appears to have left something behind to keep his memory green, however, for seven years after his departure his High-Chin Bob was discovered to be a popular song among the cowboys in a certain section of the Southwest, as was printed in Poetry as a true Western folksong of unknown authorship.
As Badger Clark says: "Regarding the High Chin Bob business, it is so far back and, with my usual carelessness, I have neglected to preserve any documentary evidence bearing on it, that I fear I can't give you much of value. The thing began once when I was with an outfit of ten men driving seven hundred cattle to the shipping point after the roundup, acting as cook because the regular incumbent had gone to town and looked upon the wine when it is red. I found a real native folksong which the cowboys were accustomed to carol in their long riders over the romantic wildernesses of the Southwest, a song like Melchizedek, without father or mother, which probably had naturally 'just growed' in the rocky soil where it now flourished.
I own that the 'folksong' version is in some points more striking, and easy than my more labored original, and I believe it is better known. When I was in California a year or so ago I became acquainted with H. Nashville-based brother duo John and T. From the glittering intro to the lengthy guitar solo pro tip: skip the radio edit for the full version , the instrumentals pack power into a song that leaves a lasting impression.
American culture tirelessly renders women as objects to be consumed by men, but Swift turns the tables here, reducing her shitty ex-boyfriend to a picture that she can torch and move on. Burn, baby, burn. But the mongrelization started decades back, led by Saint Waylon. And that doggerel — horny, boastful, silly, epigrammatic, steeped in his local vernacular — looks ahead, too, to hip-hop.
So you start it again. That was a formative summer for millions of millennials who cut their teeth on country music and homicide at the same time. It has murder plots, girl power, and black comedy all wrapped up in a tarp. It also proved that Natalie Maines was an angel-voiced fiend, like Barbara Stanwyck in a jean jacket.
Pistol Annie Presley paints a drearily familiar picture in this morning-after song. Like Lynn, Presley is a realist. You swear you love the city lights. You swear not having time to cook is fine by you. Give in to the music: You want that fiddle. And you most certainly want to sleep next to the love of your life in a little house behind a cornfield. So, yeah, country sounds like Nineties rock now. What of it? Most Miranda Lambert records have more bite and fire than most mopey alternative ever did. The track is brash but stately, the chords jagged but chiming, the pedal steel a seam of pure sugar in a sour-candy confection.
The song, not quite a hit, found Lambert co-writing with Natalie Hemby growing out of her early Crazy Ex-Girlfriend branding. Loretta Lynn is one of the singular female songwriters in popular culture. It went to No. Best Coast covered the song at Bonnaroo in , with Bethany Cosentino saying how pissed she was about missing Loretta Lynn perform that year.
The guitars! The hairspray! The weird Fritos commercial! This song is just waiting for enough hipsters to discover it so it can blow up karaoke bars all over Brooklyn. If that sounds like a little much, you might prefer the original version, written and performed by Bobbie Gentry in Remember: To thine own self be true. When it comes to converting naysayers to country music, the real question is which Eric Church song to play first. Sara Evans was a trailblazing figure in the early Aughts for women in country. While plenty of female artists are still having tremendous difficulty getting played on the radio, Evans pushed her way through to earn several No.
Imagine turning your back on that quiet downhome life mid-chore!