Songs Of The Cowboys - online songbook

Traditional Cowboy & Western Songs - lyrics collection

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of tradition or background in their composers. Amer­ican cowpunchers have, indeed, been drawn from all walks in life, but the majority of them belong to that same pioneer stock which settled the East, the Middle West, the Far West, and the Southwest, in turn; the same sort of pioneer stock that produced Mark Twain and Bret Harte.
Whatever the cowboy's "inheritance of tradi­tional song " may or may not have been (and it was that of the general American public of the period), the fact that counts is his creation of a new tradi­tion — a tradition of which these songs are the most authentic record. What one appreciates in the survivals of the old English folk-songs is pre­cisely the literary association, and their beauti­fully simple but highly evolved poetic form. But the associations of cowboy songs are directly local and immediate, and perhaps these can be appreci­ated fully only by those familiar with the life that has produced them.
It is quite true that the world of the cowboy songs is less imaginary than actual. It was a concrete world the cowboy lived in — he could n't escape too much into the world of the imagination. If he did, he might forget and let the old cow die bogged down, or slide to perdition from the back of the bucking bronco. His world is not, it is true, peo­pled with fairies or ghostly apparitions or knights in steel armor. Instead, he writes of dying long-horns, buffaloes, mule-skinners, bucking broncos, stampeding cattle, and his hard-handed companions of the trail and chuck-wagon. His armor is his own, and he celebrates it — chaps, slicker, spurs, saddle