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In another favorite song a cowboy has decided to go home to Dixie "when the work's all done this fall." His is the old story of the prodigal son: he has been a tough one, he says, and "taken on great, big jags." But now he sees the error of his ways and plans that when the round-ups are over and the shipping is done, he will go home before his money is spent. But, alas! that night he was on guard, the cattle broke into a stampede. The song concludes:
Poor Charlie was buried at sunrise, no tombstone at his
head, Nothing but a little board, and this is what it said, "Charlie died at daybreak, he died from a fall, And he'll not see his mother when the work's all done this
fall."
On the whole, these ranch songs give one the feeling that for the first time he is seeing the cowboy's life in its true colors. There are still romance and danger in it, still recklessness and shootings, still practical jokes and windy bragging. All these features of the storybook cowboy re­main. But along with them are so many other elements that the picture seems real and complete, and the cowboy him­self more human (and therefore more lovable) than he has seemed before.
If the radio has helped us to get a truer picture of him, then we owe it a debt of gratitude.
Cowboy ballads at our own firesides—they are as wholly and originally American as cornbread.
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III