Cowboy Poetry Week: “I Ride an Old Paint”

An American Paint Horse at a horse show in the Czech Republic, from Wikipedia, photo by Karakal

The Death of the Old West

Depending on who you talk to, rumors of the death of the Old West, may be somewhat exaggerated. Some say it died when the railroads started carrying beef on the hoof to places like Kansas City and Chicago. Others say it died when barbed wire was invented. Even today, there are those that infer that the Old West lasted until the automobile and paved roads became the norm for transportation. And finally, there are those that believe that the Old West may still exist in small pockets, where a few determined herders somehow manage to work what’s left of the open range.

The Search

Back during the Roaring Twenties, when speakeasies and Jazz music were the rage, Carl Sandburg went on a search. He was looking for genuine cowboy songs from the Old West. To do this properly, the young Midwesterner dropped out of college, crisscrossed the western mountains and prairies, looking for old remnants of years gone by. Somewhere in the high desert of New Mexico, he came across this beauty of a song.

What’s an Old Paint

First of all, an Old Paint is a type of horse common to the American West. Basically, it is a stock horse with a “pinto” pattern of color. The splotched color separates this breed from the solid, American quarter horse. Except for the color pattern, the two types of horses are similar in size, build and stock. Nonetheless, they are considered two separate breeds, which are both quite popular among American horsemen.

About the Song

Too many, “I Ride an Old Paint”, embodies the spirit of the Old West, as well as any folk song. There are many wonderful elements to the horseman’s tale, but perhaps the unusual method of burial is most telling about the special appeal for this Western lament. I seriously doubt that many (if any) cowhands were treated this way after leaving the world of the living. Yet still, there is a communion with the outdoor range, rarely expressed in Western music,when the corpse of the main character is tied to the back of his horse and then set loose into the bush.

Carl Sandburg at age 77

Who Was Carl Sandburg?

Carl Sandburg was born in Galesburg, Illinois in 1878. After serving in the military in Puerto Rico during the Spanish-American War, Carl returned to the Midwest, where he worked a variety jobs before he began publishing his own poetry in 1916. As an offshoot of his poetry, he put out a recording of folk songs (1927), gathered from traditional sources. This landmark album included such noted American classics, as the “Sloop John B” and “I Ride an Old Paint”. Over the years, the Old Paint song has one of the most recorded songs in American music.

 

If Jesus Was a Cowboy

April 21 marks the beginning of Cowboy Poetry Week and is also Easter Sunday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Easter Kickoff

Today is not only Easter, but also the kickoff for Cowboy Poetry Week. Since the former event is well covered by the churches and press, I will devote the next seven days to the ridin’, ropin’ poets of the Old (and New) West.

If Jesus Was A Cowboy

The present calendar year presents a small dilemma and unique challenge for fans of the Cowboy poetry genre. Since the first day of the poetry week coincides with the Easter holiday, the question might be asked, “What if Jesus was a cowboy?” On a preliminary note, this sounds kind of fanciful, but in reality a variety of Country and Western singers have pondered the idea and over the years recorded tunes with similar titles.

The short list includes Jesus was a Cowboy (Brady Wilson Band), Jesus Was A Country Boy (Clay Walker) and God Must Be a Cowboy (Chris Ladoux). All of these songs are find and dandy for a listen on Easter Sunday, but instead, I have chosen a sincere and thoughtful tune from an obscure singer/songwriter named Kevin Reid. Furthermore, the song is performed by David Glen Eisley, a California rocker of some note.

Final Note

This blog has been also posted at my alternative site, Bluefoxcafe, which can also be found at WordPress.com. I am currently undertaking an experiment to decide which place gets more traffic.

Once In A Very Blue Moon

A Full Moon

Coming Soon

On tomorrow night August 31st a blue moon will occur. No the moon does not turn blue, for this common pair of words is used to describe the uncommon occurrence . And that unusual event is when a full moon occurs twice in the same month. Since a complete lunar cycle takes 29.5 days and every month except February has 30 or more days, a blue moon can occur during eleven of the twelve months. According to NASA, a blue moon occurs on the average about every 2.5 years.

When The Moon Appears Blue

Normally the moon does not appear blue, when it is full. In fact, a twice-a-month ‘blue moon’ has the same color as any other full moon. However, atmospheric effects, like the presence of volcanic ash, smoke from forest fires or ice particles in the sky, can give a full moon a bluish tint. Documented cases of the moon taking on a blueish color are presented at the space weather website.

Optical Illusion

Some blue moons may be all in your head – or at least in the retina of your eyes. This might happen when a person moves quickly from an indoor location, illuminated by an oil lamp to an outdoor site, where the full moon hangs high in the sky. This quick change of scenery can cause the moon to appear blue for a short period of time. Not surprisingly, this phenomena has more to do with the nature of human vision  than any celestial event that occurs in the night sky.

Nanci Griffith
Nanci Griffith is a popular singer who crosses folk with country, photo by Jem1234, from Wikipedia

Popular Slang

Over the years a saying, ‘once in a blue moon’ has developed. More a musical-poetic interpretation of the phrase you might what to check out this song that is performed by Nanci Griffith, entitled Once In A Very Blue Moon. It is a woman’s lament about events in life that only occur on rare intervals. And if you are into lyrics here a is the opening verse and chorus. By the way these words were written by Patrick Alger & Gene Levine.

I found your letter in my mailbox today
You were just checkin’ if I was okay
And if I miss you, well, you know what they say…

Just once… in a very blue moon
Just once in a very blue moon
Just once… in a very blue moon
And I feel one comin’ on soon

“Severe and Profound Loss of Hearing from Years of Playing Country Music”

19th century cartoon caricature
19th century cartoon caricature by Udo J. Keppler

David Allan’s Defense

David Allan Coe, a noted country & western singer and songwriter, had his case against the Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino thrown out of court this week by an Iowa judge. The case revolved around an incident that occurred in June 2008, when Coe was visiting the casino and tackled by Polk County sheriif’s deputies because he disobeyed an order from the same deputies. Coe’s reason for not responding to the order is reprinted as the title of this post.

As a response to the incident, Coe had sued the casino operators, but the case was thrown out of court because the judge ruled that the deputies were acting under orders from the deputy’s office and there fore not under control of the casino and racetrack.

Who Is David Allan Coe?

David Allan Coe, now 72 years of age, perhaps achieved his greatest fame as author of “Take This Job and Shove It“, a smash hit made popular by Johny Paycheck. However, Coe is long-standing C & W performer, who has been around the performing circuit for awhile.

Waylon, Willie & Me

Mr. Coe obtained some crossover country-rock attention with a song entitled Waylon, Willie and Me“, a clever tune that equated the creative value of the Texas “outlaw” music of Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson with the lesser known singer and songwriter, David Allan Coe. At the time this and other popular tunes provided the Texas singer with a midling recording and performing career, though he never obtained the fame and notoriety of the his two “outlaw” comrades.

C & W “Bad Boy”

Despite his solid reputation as an excellent songwriter, Coe has never received the attention that other singers and songwriters have achieved. This kind of story is always open to speculation, as to why this has happened, and Coe’s trail to fame is no exception. Most likely, it is the singers irascible nature along with his frank exploration of such contemporary issues as drug use, prison time, sexual exploitation and the dark side of rural life that have kept him on the fringes of popular music. Coe was once described by Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic magazine, as such; ” he may not be the most original outlaw, but there’s none more outlaw than him.”

David Allan Coe in concert
David Allan Coe performing in 2009