Cowboy Songs And Other Frontier Ballads

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Collector's Note
services. Society, then, was here reduced to its low­est terms. The work of the men, their daily expe­riences, their thoughts, their interests, were all in common. Such a community had necessarily to turn to itself for entertainment. Songs sprang up naturally, some of them tender and familiar lays of childhood, others original compositions, all genuine, however crude and unpolished. Whatever the most gifted man could produce must bear the criticism of the entire camp, and agree with the ideas of a group of men. In this sense, therefore, any song that came from such a group would be the joint product of a number of them, telling perhaps the story of some stampede they had all fought to turn, some crime in which they had all shared equally, some comrade's tragic death which they had all witnessed. The song-making did not cease as the men went up the trail. Indeed the songs were here utilized for very practical ends. Not only were sharp, rhythmic yells — sometimes beaten into verse — employed to stir up lagging cattle, but also during the long watches the night-guards, as they rode round and round the herd, improvised cattle lullabies which quieted the animals and soothed them to sleep. Some of the best of the so-called " dogie songs " seem to have been created for the purpose of pre­venting cattle stampedes,— such songs coming straight from the heart of the cowboy, speaking familiarly to his herd in the stillness of the night. The long drives up the trail occupied months, and