As I was a-walking one morning for pleasure,
I spied a cow-puncher come riding along;
His hat was throwed back and his spurs were a-jinglin’,
As he approached me a-singin’ this song:

Whoopee ti yi yo, git along, little dogies,
It’s your misfortune and none of my own;
Whoopee ti yi yo, git along, little dogies,
For you know Wyoming will be your new home.

Early in the springtime we’ll round up the dogies,
Slap on their brands and bob off their tails;
Round up our horses, load up the chuck wagon,
Then throw those dogies up on the trail.

It’s whooping and yelling and driving them dogies,
O, how I wish you would go on;
It’s whooping and punching and go on, little dogies,
For you know Wyoming will be your new home.

Some boys goes up the trail for pleasure,
But that’s where they git it most awfully wrong;
For you haven’t any idea that trouble they give us
As we go driving those dogies along.

When night comes on and we hold them on the bed-ground,
Those little dogies that roll on so slow;
Roll up the herd and cut out the strays
And roll the little dogies that never rolled before.

Your mother she was raised way down in Texas,
Where the jimson weed and the sand-burrs grow;
Now we’ll fill you up on prickly pear and cholla *
Till you’re ready for the trail to Idaho.

Oh, you’ll be soup for Uncle Sam’s Injuns;
“It’s beef, heap beef,” I hear them cry.
Git along, git along, git along, little dogies.
You’re going to be beef steers by and bye.

* Pronounced—“choy-ya,” a form of cactus.

–John and Alan Lomax, Folk Song U.S.A. (1966, pgs. 262-263)

0 Plays • 11:49 AM

“‘To me,’ she said, ‘that’s the loveliest of all cowboy songs. Its rhythm comes from the movement of a horse. It’s not the boisterous hell-for-leather, wild gallop of ‘Old Chisholm Trail,’ nor the slow, easy canter of ‘Goodby, Old Paint.’ The dogies get nervous in crowds. You mustn’t frighten ’em. Lope around them quietly in the darkness as you sing to them about their new home in Wyoming.’

“From her I first heard the word dogie. […] George W. Sanders of the San Antonio stockyards said that a motherless calf, forced to eat grass before it was old enough to digest it, developed a big stomach: ‘Nothing in your guts but dough,’ said his cowboy friends. These calves came to be called ‘doughguts,’ and that clumsy word, doughguts, was shortened and simplified into ‘dogies.’”

–John and Alan Lomax, Folk Song U.S.A. (1966, pg. 248)

Come along, boys, and listen to my tale,
I’ll tell you of my troubles on the old Chisholm Trail. 

Coma ti yi youpy, youpy yea, youpy yea,
Coma ti yi youpy, youpy yea.

I started up the trail October twenty-third
I started up the trail with the 2-U herd. 

O a ten-dollar hoss and a forty-dollar saddle,
And I’m goin’ to punch in Texas cattle.

I woke up one morning on the old Chisholm Trail,
Rope in my hand and a cow by the tail. 

Stray in the herd and the boss said to kill it,
So I shot him in the rump with the handle of the skillet.

My hoss throwed me off at the creek called Mud,
My hoss throwed me off round the 2-U herd. 

Last time I saw him he was going ’cross the level
A-kicking up his heels and a-running like the devil.

It’s cloudy in the west, a-looking like rain,
And my damned old slicker’s in the wagon again. 

The wind commenced to blow and the rain began to fall,
Hit looked, by grab, like we was goin’ to lose ’em all.

I jumped in the saddle, grabbed holt of the horn,
Best damned cowpuncher ever was born. 

I popped my foot in the stirrup and gave a little yell,
The tail cattle broke and the leaders went to hell.

Feet in the stirrups and seat in the saddle,
I hung and rattled with them goddam cattle. 

I don’t give a damn if they never do stop,
I’ll ride as long as an eight-day clock.

We rounded ’em up and put ’em on the cars,
And that was the last of the old Two Bars. 

Goin’ to the boss to git my money.
Goin’ back south to see my honey.

With my hand on the horn and my seat in the sky,
I’ll quit herding cows in the sweet by-and-by.

–John and Alan Lomax, Folk Song U.S.A. (1966, pgs. 258-259)

19 Plays • 10:17 PM

“Of all songs, ‘The Old Chisholm Trail’ was the most universally sung by the cowboys. […] ‘It’s as long as the cattle trail from Texas to Wyoming,’ said [one] cowboy to me after he had sung sixty-nine verses without stopping. Several hundred couplets are in my collection, a variety of refrains and a half dozen tunes. The words in their entirety would furnish a vivid picture of the experiences of a group of cowboys on the long drive to market, while the different rhythms and tunes reflect the various moods of the singers. For example, the stirring beat of the most common tune fits the rapid pace of a galloping horse in pursuit of a steer which has broken from the herd. When the cowboy was alone riding the fence-line or hunting the drifting cattle, the melody is soft, the time slow, reflecting the loneliness of the prairies, the vastness of the wide stretches of plain and sky. […]

“The desperately hard life of the cowboy (sometimes he couldn’t change clothes for a month and he took a bath only as he swam a swollen river on horseback) [didn’t] produce a model Sunday school laddie. At the end of the trail red liquor flowed freely; eager crimson-clad floozies and patooties swarmed for his attention. The complete ‘Chisholm Trail’ frankly sets forth the gory details of these and other encounters far less innocent, in short, grim Anglo-Saxon words that are still rightfully excluded from the mails. But they are a part of the history of the times, and the record is carefully preserved.”

–John and Alan Lomax, Folk Song U.S.A. (1966, pgs. 246-247)

" In this period of trail-driving, cowboys created a whole literature of roughhewn verse that magnificently describes the West and the life of the wild buckaroos who tamed it. "
by John and Alan Lomax, Folk Song U.S.A. (1966, pg. 245)

With your kind attention a song I will trill,
All ye who must toil with the pick and the drill,
And sweat for your bread in that hole at Oak Hill,
That goes down, down, down.

“When I was a boy,” said my daddy to me,
“Stay out of Oak Hill, take my warnin’,” said he,
“Or with dust you’ll be choked and a pauper you’ll be,
Broken down, down, down.”

But I went to Oak Hill and I asked for a job,
A mule for to drive or a gangway to rob;
The boss said, “Come out, Bill, and follow the mob
That goes down, down, down.”

The lampman he squints through the windie at me,
“What’s your name? What’s your age?  What’s your number?” says he
“Bill Keating; I’m thirty; my check’s twenty-three;
Mark that down, down, down.”

I asked them what tools would I need in the place.
“Very few,” said the boss with a grin on his face;
“One number six shovel and damn little space
While you’re down, down, down.”

With a note from the boss to the shaft I made haste,
Saluted the topman, in line took my place;
Sayin’, “Gimme a cage, for I’ve no time to waste,
Let me down, down, down.”

“All aboard for the bottom!” the topman did yell;
We stepped on the cage, and he gave her the bell.
Then from under our feet like a bat out of hell,
We went down, down, down.

I groped in the gangway; they gave me a scoop.
The “out” was just fired, muck was heaped to the roof.
I stooped and I scooped till my back looped the loop,
Stoopin’ down, down, down.

You could look at the rib or the face or the top,
Ne’er a sign of a laggin’ or slab or of prop;
Someday I expect that old mountain to drop –
And come down, down, down.

Last pay day my buddy he cussed and he swore,
In fact it’s enough to make any man sore,
When your wife drags your wages all out in the store,
While you’re down, down, down.