The cowboy has told his own story in many songs and ballads. Hundreds of these have come from cowboys whose names are not known. They just sang these songs as they rode on the saddles of their horses across the cattle lands. Or, as they sat at their campfires at night.

 

Cowboys sang these songs as they rode on the saddles of their horses across the cattle lands.

 

They sang about the things that were close to them. Horses and cows and danger and death. Often, they sang about the long ride to the cattle markets where the cows were sold for beef, as in this song called, "Git Along Little Dogie."

 

Git Along Little Dogie: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q2cFji4CmHE

 

Dogie is another name for a young cow, especially one which wanders away from the herd. The song tells how the young cowboy keeps driving the dogies forward. He feels sorry for them, because they will soon be sold for meat. But that's their hard luck, not his. And he keeps pushing them on while he sings.

One of the most famous of cowboy ballads is this one, called "The Chisholm Trail."

 

The Chisholm Trail : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUc2yI4FjuM

 

Day and night, the horse was at the cowboy's side. A cowboy was as proud of his horse as he was of his skill in riding him. There is this feeling in the song "I Ride an Old Paint."  A paint, or pinto, is a horse of three or more different colors.

 

I Ride an Old Paint: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0qBEYfhvrdg

 

Across this strange land, no man in the early days of the West knew just where death was waiting for him. A listener hears the mournful feeling cowboys had for the prairie in this song called, "The Dying Cowboy."

 

The Dying Cowboy : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hL888ZHhkk

 

The lyrics of the song "I Ride an Old Paint"

 

I ride an old paint, I lead an old dan

I'm goin' to Montana to throw the hoolihan

They feed in the coulees, they water in the draw

Their tails are all matted, their backs are all raw

 

CHORUS:

Ride around little dogies, ride around them slow

For the fiery and snuffy are rarin' to go

 

Old Bill Jones had a daughter and a son

One went to college, the other went wrong

His wife, she got killed in a poolroom fight

But still he's a-singin' from mornin' till night

 

CHORUS

 

When I die, take my saddle from the wall

Place it on my old pony, lead him out of his stall

Tie my bones to my saddle and turn our faces to the West

And we'll ride the prairie we love the best

 

CHORUS

 

I ride an old paint, I lead an old dan

I'm goin' to Montana to throw the hoolihan

They feed in the coulees, they water in the draw

Their tails are all matted, and their backs are all raw

 

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