Cowboy Songs & Frontier Ballads

The Last Longhorn

An ancient long-horned bovine
Lay dying by the river;
There was lack of vegetation
And the cold winds made him shiver;
A cowboy sat beside him
With sadness in his face.
To see his final passing, —
This last of a noble race.

The ancient eunuch struggled
And raised his shaking head,
Saying, “I care not to linger
When all my friends are dead.
These Jerseys and these Holsteins,
They are no friends of mine;
They belong to the nobility
Who live across the brine.

“Tell the Durhams and the Herefords
When they come a-grazing round,
And see me lying stark and stiff
Upon the frozen ground,
I don’t want them to bellow
When they see that I am dead,
For I was born in Texas
Near the river that is Red.

“Tell the cayotes, when they come at night
A-hunting for their prey,
They might as well go further,
For they’ll find it will not pay.
If they attempt to eat me,
They very soon will see
That my bones and hide are petrified, —
They’ll find no beef on me.

“I remember back in the seventies,
Full many summers past,
There was grass and water plenty,
But it was too good to last.
I little dreamed what would happen
Some twenty summers hence,
When the nester came with his wife, his kids,
His dogs, and his barbed-wire fence.”

His voice sank to a murmur,
His breath was short and quick;
The cowboy tried to skin him
When he saw he couldn’t kick;
He rubbed his knife upon his boot
Until he made it shine,
But he never skinned old longhorn,
Caze he couldn’t cut his rine.

And the cowboy riz up sadly
And mounted his cayuse,
Saying, “The time has come when longhorns
And their cowboys are no use!”
And while gazing sadly backward
Upon the dead bovine,
His bronc stepped in a dog-hole
And fell and broke his spine.

The cowboys and the longhorns
Who partnered in eighty-four
Have gone to their last round-up
Over on the other shore;
They answered well their purpose,
But their glory must fade and go,
Because men say there’s better things
In the modern cattle show.

Old West Greetings Postcard

Old West Greetings Postcard at Legends’ General Store

Little Sod Shanty

I am looking rather seedy now while holding down my claim,
And my victuals are not always served the best;
And the mice play shyly round me as I nestle down to rest
In my little old sod shanty on my claim.

The hinges are of leather and the windows have no glass,
While the board roof lets the howling blizzards in,
And I hear the hungry cayote as he slinks up through the grass
Round the little old sod shanty on my claim.

Yet, I rather like the novelty of living in this way,
Though my bill of fare is always rather tame,
But I’m happy as a clam on the land of Uncle Sam
In the little old sod shanty on my claim.

But when I left my Eastern home, a bachelor so gay,
To try and win my way to wealth and fame,
I little thought I’d come down to burning twisted hay
In the little old sod shanty on my claim.

My clothes are plastered o’er with dough, I’m looking like a fright,
And everything is scattered round the room,
But I wouldn’t give the freedom that I have out in the West
For the table of the Eastern man’s old home.

Still, I wish that some kind-hearted girl would pity on me take
And relieve me from the mess that I am in;
The angel, how I’d bless her if this her home she’d make
In the little old sod shanty on my claim.

And we would make our fortunes on the prairies of the West,
Just as happy as two lovers we’d remain;
We’d forget the trials and troubles we endured at the first
In the little old sod shanty on my claim.

And if fate should bless us with now and then an heir
To cheer our hearts with honest pride of fame,
Oh, then we’d be contented for the toil that we had spent
In the little old sod shanty on our claim.

When time enough had lapsed and all those little brats
To noble man and womanhood had grown,
It wouldn’t seem half so lonely as round us we should look
And we’d see the old sod shanty on our claim.

Texas Postcard

Greetings from Texas Postcard. Available at Legends’ General Store.

The Lone Star Trail

I’m a rowdy cowboy just off the stormy plains,
My trade is girting saddles and pulling bridle reins.
Oh, I can tip the lasso, it is with graceful ease;
I rope a streak of lightning, and ride it where I please.
My bosses they all like me, they say I am hard to beat;
I give them the bold standoff, you bet I have got the cheek.
I always work for wages, my pay I get in gold;
I am bound to follow the longhorn steer until I am too old.

Ci yi yip yip yip pe ya.

I am a Texas cowboy and I do ride the range;
My trade is cinches and saddles and ropes and bridle reins;
With Stetson hat and jingling spurs and leather up to the knees,
Gray backs as big as chili beans and fighting like hell with fleas.
And if I had a little stake, I soon would married be,
But another week and I must go, the boss said so to-day.
My girl must cheer up courage and choose some other one,
For I am bound to follow the Lone Star Trail until my race is run.

Ci yi yip yip yip pe ya.

It almost breaks my heart for to have to go away,
And leave my own little darling, my sweetheart so far away.
But when I’m out on the Lone Star Trail often I’ll think of thee,
Of my own dear girl, the darling one, the one I would like to see.
And when I get to a shipping point, I’ll get on a little spree
To drive away the sorrow for the girl that once loved me.
And though red licker stirs us up we’re bound to have our fun,
And I intend to follow the Lone Star Trail until my race is run.

Ci yi yip yip yip pe ya.

I went up the Lone Star Trail in eighteen eighty-three;
I fell in love with a pretty miss and she in love with me.
“When you get to Kansas write and let me know;
And if you get in trouble, your bail I’ll come and go.”
When I got up in Kansas, I had a pleasant dream;
I dreamed I was down on Trinity, down on that pleasant stream;
I dreampt my true love right beside me, she come to go my bail;
I woke up broken hearted with a yearling by the tail.

Ci yi yip yip yip pe ya.

In came my jailer about nine o’clock,
A bunch of keys was in his hand, my cell door to unlock,
Saying, “Cheer up, my prisoner, I heard some voice say
You’re bound to hear your sentence some time to-day.”
In came my mother about ten o’clock,
Saying, “O my loving Johnny, what sentence have you got?”
“The jury found me guilty and the judge a-standin’ by
Has sent me down to Huntsville to lock me up and die.”

Ci yi yip yip yip pe ya.

Down come the jailer, just about eleven o’clock,
With a bunch of keys all in his hand the cell doors to unlock,
Saying, “Cheer up, my prisoner, I heard the jury say
Just ten long years in Huntsville you’re bound to go and stay.”
Down come my sweetheart, ten dollars in her hand,
Saying, “Give this to my cowboy, ’tis all that I command;
O give this to my cowboy and think of olden times,
Think of the darling that he has left behind.”

Ci yi yip yip yip pe ya.

Frontier Slang, Lingo & Phrases Book by Kathy Alexander

More Terms, Expanded Definitions + Reverse Lookup + More Pictures

The Melancholy Cowboy

Come all you melancholy folks and listen unto me,
I will sing you about the cowboy whose heart’s so light and free;
He roves all over the prairie and at night when he lays down
His heart’s as gay as the flowers of May with his bed spread on the ground.

They are a little bit rough, I must confess, the most of them at least;
But as long as you do not cross their trail, you can live with them in peace.
But if you do, they’re sure to rule, the day you come to their land,
For they’ll follow you up and shoot it out, they’ll do it man to man.

You can go to a cowboy hungry, go to him wet or dry,
And ask him for a few dollars in change and he will not deny;
He will pull out his pocket-book and hand you out a note,—
Oh, they are the fellows to strike, boys, whenever you are broke.

You can go to their ranches and often stay for weeks,
And when you go to leave, boys, they’ll never charge you a cent;
But when they go to town, boys, you bet their money is spent.
They walk right up, they take their drinks and they pay for every one.
They never ask your pardon, boys, for a thing that they have done.

They go to the ball-room, and swing the pretty girls around;
They ride their bucking broncos, and wear their broad-brimmed hats;
Their California saddles, their pants below their boots,
You can hear their spurs go jing-a-ling, or perhaps somebody shoots.

Come all you soft and tenderfeet, if you want to have some fun,
Come go among the cowboys and they’ll show you how it’s done;
But take the kind advice of me as I gave it to you before,
For if you don’t, they’ll order you off with an old Colt’s forty-four.