Cowboy Poetry Week: April 18-24
Snug your hat down before inserting The Bar-D Roundup Vol. 5 in your CD player. The initial hot air might send you chasing after your chapeau. Recorded in 1959 by Harry Jackson, “Some Cowboy Brag Talk” is the first big windy. It’s followed by “The Legend of Boastful Bill,” written by Charles Badger Clark, Jr. and recited by Jerry Brooks.
Not unlike heading out from the corral in the morning, things settle down once these two work through the kinks. Then the crew gets down to the business at hand. Red Steagall, songwriter, poet, entertainer, and past Texas Poet Laureate offers “The Fence That Me and Shorty Built,” explaining the satisfaction that comes from a job done well. Steagall’s “Born to This Land” inspired the painting by Cowboy Artist of America member, Bill Owen, that was selected for the 2010 Cowboy Poetry Week poster. (For more on Owen and to view the poster: http://www.cowboypoetry.com/billowen.htm)
Released in conjunction with the ninth annual observation of Cowboy Poetry Week – April 18-24, 2010 – The Bar-D Roundup is a compilation of vintage and contemporary cowboy poetry recordings. A project of the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry, the album is dedicated to those who proudly carry on the ranching tradition. The Center defines cowboy poetry as “recording the heartbeat of the working West, a tradition – stories of cowboys, ranchers, and Western writers – that spans three centuries.”
Mixed in amongst the rhymes about blowhards and good hands doing what they ought are images of warm creaking leather, tomboys, proud ranch mothers, pitiful ranch vehicles, cowboy soldiers, pranksters, buck-offs, and life-sustaining rain. Voices and experiences for the fifth annual edition were gleaned from across the United States and Canada. Recently named a National Endowment of the Arts Fellow, Texas rancher and horseman, Joel Nelson recites “Awakenings.” Nevada poet and storyteller, Waddie Mitchell, does “No Second Chance.” Canadian Doris Daley recites “Goodnight to the Trail.”
The circa-1940 cover image is of a beautiful, youthful, and smiling Georgie Sicking. It was taken on her first date with the man who was to become her husband. A cowboy, poet, and Cowgirl Hall of Fame inductee, Sicking gathered wild cattle and wild horses, ranched, and raised a family, all while riding thousands of miles horseback in Arizona, Nevada and Wyoming. An octogenarian, she contributed “Be Yourself,” an account of the advice women gave her on catching a husband – all of which she ignored.
This year’s vintage find spotlights Charles Badger Clark, Jr. (1883-1957). Recorded in 1956, Clark introduces and recites “The Cowboy’s Prayer.” Both tracks are from Dakota Voices and courtesy of the Badger Clark Memorial Society (www.badgerclark.org). It is magical to hear one of classic cowboy poetry’s masters talk about the piece. Clark tells how others frequently claimed the piece as their own, to the point of arguing with him and challenging his authorship. He eventually came to take such instances as a compliment. “The Cowboy’s Prayer,” penned at the behest of his mother, was the most popular thing he wrote.
Some poets provided previously recorded works. Some pieces were recorded especially for the album, in which instance, they aren’t available anywhere else. Rounding out the list of those on the compilation are Janice Gilbertson, Larry McWhorter, Linda Kirkpatrick, Randy Rieman, Susan Parker, Dee Strickland Johnson, Diane Tribitt, Rodney Nelson, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Andy Nelson, Pat Richardson, DW Groethe, Rex Rideout, Jim Thompson, Buck Ramsey, Marty Blocker, Jay Snider, Ken Cook, Hal Swift and Chris Isaacs. Radio personality Joe Baker recorded the Public Service Announcement. For a complete track listing, narrative description of the contents, and poem excerpts, see http://www.cowboypoetry.com/cd.htm.
Each year, a copy of The Bar-D Roundup and a commemorative poster are offered to rural libraries in celebration of Cowboy Poetry Week. The outreach by the Center of Western and Cowboy Poetry is part of the Center’s commitment to serve rural communities and to preserve and promote our Western heritage. At its inception, Cowboy Poetry Week was recognized by a unanimous U.S. Senate resolution. In 2010, it was bolstered by proclamations from 22 states’ governors and officials.
The Bar-D Roundup is $20 (postpaid to US and Canadian addresses. Send check or money order (US funds) to CowboyPoetry.com, PO Box 330444, San Francisco, CA 94133. You can also pay online by secure credit card payment at http://www.cowboypoetry.com/cd.htm.
Special offers are available for those wanting to complete their collection of the annual release: Vols. 4 and 5 are $35 (postpaid); Vols. 2, 3, 4, and 5 are bundle-priced at $65. Vol. 1 is no longer available.
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Outtagrass Cattle Co. cartoon by Jan Swan Wood for the June 19, 2021, edition of Tri-State Livestock News