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little daughter by turning the stampede upon himself, and of Charlie Rutlage, killed in a spring round-up, "a place where death men mock," and of Billy Venero, who rode through certain death to warn the town where his sweet­heart lived that an Apache band was on the raid, and of Bill Peters, the stage driver who had to kill "a pile of wild Comanches," but in the end was slain himself.
Practical jokes were his meat and drink. Naturally the songs sometimes show up the side of his nature. In one of them a tenderfoot describes how he tackled a cattle-king for a job and he was taken on. All the way out to the ranch he was assured that
Cow punching was nothing but play, That all you had to do was ride, And only drifting with the tide; The son of a gun, oh, how he lied.
When he reached his outfit he was put on a bronco that speedily "quit the ground."
But the life was not all pranks. Not by any means. As one reads or listens to the songs one gets to feel that down underneath the cowboy's waggery and reckless courage, he was often a very lonesome, homesick individual who longed for a more settled life. Many of the songs are built upon sentimental memories of the old home and the mother or sister or sweetheart left behind. In "Texas Rangers," for instance, the singer delivers this wise admonition:
Perhaps you have a mother, likewise a sister, too,
And maybe you have a sweetheart to weep and mourn for
you; If that be your situation, altho you'd like to roam, I'd advise you by experience, you had better stay at home.
I've seen the fruits of rambling, I know its hardships well, IVe crossed the Rocky Mountains, rode down the streets of
hell, I've been in the great southwest, where the wild Apaches
roam, And I tell you from experience, you had better stay at home.
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III