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Below, we list a selection of some of the best books about Cowboy Poetry and Western Music.

Collections and Cowboy Poetry and Music History
History, Folklore and More

 

We welcome your suggestions for additions to this list. Email us.

 

 

Many poets have books and recordings, and those are listed on each poet's individual page.  See a list of poets and featured musicians here.

On separate pages, we have:

  • an Anthology Index that lists the contents of many Cowboy Poetry anthologies and periodicals.

 

Visit our Wall of Support

 


Collections: Cowboy Poetry and Western Music History
books, videos, and more

The BAR-D Roundup
Open Range; Collected Poems of Bruce Kiskaddon
Celebrating 25 Years: National Cowboy Poetry Gathering

Cowboy Poetry: The Reunion
Cowboy Poetry: A Gathering
New Cowboy Poetry: A Contemporary Gathering
Elko!  A Cowboy's Gathering
Ranch Album

Cowboy Poets and Cowboy Poetry
Cowgirl Poetry: One Hundred Years of Ridin' and Rhymin'
Spurrin' the Words
Cowboy Love Poetry: Verse from the Heart of the West
Coolin' Down
Between Earth and Sky: Poets of the Cowboy West
Buckaroo
Maverick Western Verse

Cowboy Poetry Matters : From Abilene to the Mainstream
Poetry of the American West
Cowboys are Part Human
Cattle, Horses, Sky, and Grass: Cowboy Poetry of the Late Twentieth Century
Graining the Mare: The Poetry of Ranch Women
Home on the Range: Cowboy Poetry  
Prairie Poetry: Cowboy Verse of Kansas
Live at Elko: Cowboy Poets
Missouri Cowboy Poetry
Riding the Northern Range
Humorous Cowboy Poetry, A Knee Slappin' Gathering
The Big Roundup
 

 

Music
Classic Cowboy Songs by Don Edwards
Saddle Songs, a Cowboy's Songbag by Don Edwards
Songs of the Cowboys by Jack Thorp
Jack Thorp's Songs of the Cowboys edited by Mark L. Gardner (separate feature)
Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads by John Lomax
Songs of the Cattle Trail and Cow Camp by John Lomax
American Ballads and Folk Songs by John and Alan Lomax
Old-Time Cowboy Songs by Hal Cannon
Cowboy and Western Songs: A Comprehensive Anthology by Austin E. and Alta S. Fife
Git Along, Little Dogies: Songs and Songmakers of the American West by John I. White
The Hell-Bound Train: A Cowboy Songbook by Glenn Ohrlin 
He Was Singin' This Song by Jim Bob Tinsley
Why the Cowboy Sings by Hal Cannon and Taki Telonidis
Ten Thousand Goddam Cattle by Katie Lee
The Whorehouse Bells Were Ringing and Other Songs Cowboys Sing by Guy Logsdon

 

History, Folklore and More
Andy Adams
Jim Hoy
Charles M. Russell

E.C. "Teddy Blue" Abbott

 
Find additional references here in our Cowboy Poetry Week feature

 

Collections 

Also see our Anthology Index for the contents 
of some popular cowboy poetry anthologies.

 

 

 


The BAR-D Roundup
is an annual
compilation from CowboyPoetry.com of vintage and contemporary recordings of some of the  best cowboy poetry. A wide range of voices present tales that express this venerable art form, words that uncover "the heartbeat of the working West."

See information in our feature here with links to detailed information for all volumes.

Each is available for $20 postpaid and there are bundled offers.
 


  In 2007, Open Range; Collected Poems of Bruce Kiskaddon, edited by Bill Siems and perhaps the most important contemporary cowboy poetry book publication in recent times, was released. This monumental 600-page work includes Bruce Kiskaddon's entire poetic output (481 poems); extensive illustrations (including 323 line drawings by Katherine Field, Amber Dunkerley, and others); biographical and historical introductions; prefaces by Hal Cannon, Waddie Mitchell, and Lynn Held; rare photographs, and more. Read more about Open Range, view excerpts and the table of contents, and find order information at the Open Range web site and in our feature here.


  Celebrating 25 Years: National Cowboy Poetry Gathering is a 2-CD set created for the 25th anniversary of the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in 2009. The CDs feature one song and one poem from each of the past 25 years. The CDs are available from the Western Folklife Center.


The following three collections came out of the National Cowboy Poetry Gatherings at Elko, Nevada. 

cpreunionbk.jpg (25377 bytes)  Virginia Bennett edited Cowboy Poetry: The Reunion. Published by Gibbs Smith in celebration of the 20th Annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering at Elko, Nevada, the book includes 75 poems by 75 poets, with many BAR-D favorites such as Bruce Kiskaddon, Wallace McRae, Rod McQueary, Larry McWhorter, Darin Brookman, Jess Howard, Debra Coppinger Hill, Charles Badger Clark, Wylie Gustafson, Dennis Gaines, Howard Norskog, Dee Strickland Johnson, Jeff Streeby, Waddie Mitchell, Sally Bates, Buck Ramsey, Doris Daley, Colen Sweeten, Sunny Hancock, Red Steagall, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Rhoda Sivell, Robert W. Service, Chris Isaacs, Banjo Paterson, Andy Hedges, Pat Richardson, and many others.

Read our feature here and a review here.

See our Anthology Index for a list of the poems and poets in this book.

The book is $12.95, available from Gibbs Smith, Amazon, and other booksellers. 

 

Click to view at Amazon.com   Cowboy Poetry : A Gathering   by Hal Cannon (Editor)

Amazon.com says:  As tough, lean, and honest as those who create it, cowboy poetry has entered our culture as literature. In these selections from some of today's and yesterday's finest practitioners, Hal Cannon has corralled the best of the genre. How good is it? The poems have the smell of sagebrush and campfire in them. You can't get any higher praise.

Tough, lean and honest, cowboy poetry has entered our culture as literature. Here are selections from some of today's and yesterday's finest practitioners: Curley Fletcher's "The Strawberry Roan," Badger Clark's "A Cowboy's Prayer," Georgie Sicking's "To Be a Top Hand," Baxter Black's "The Big High Lonesome," and Wallace McRae's "The Lease Hound." 

See our Anthology Index for a list of the poems and poets in this book.

Click to view at Amazon.com  New Cowboy Poetry : A Contemporary Gathering
by Hal Cannon (Editor)

This second collection includes Leon Flick, Mike Logan, Rod McQueary, Wallace McRae, Waddie Mitchell Vess Quinlan, Buck Ramsey, Henry Real Bird, Red Steagall, Paul Zarzyski, and many others.  

See our Anthology Index for a list of the poems and poets in this book.

 

These popular collections are available directly from the publisher:

 

 

  Released in 2005, the Elko! A Cowboy's Gathering 2-CD set was recorded live in January 2004 at the 20th Annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.  It includes nearly 40 tracks of music and poetry by today's top poets and musicians.  Read a review here.

  The acclaimed Ranch Album video is often cited for its insightful portrayal of cowboy life.  From the Amazon description, "Nationally released as an hour-long PBS special, Ranch Album celebrates rough country ranching in Northern Arizona and shows real cowboy life. Season by season, the people of this film describe what they do and why they do it. In the process, they reveal a sense of something more important—a spirit and culture that have survived in the American west for a very long time."  It's available on DVD from Amazon.

   The Big Roundup 

Winner of the 2002 Academy of Western Artists' Buck Ramsey Best Poetry Book Award and the Will Rogers Medallion Award


The Big Roundup is an anthology of classic and contemporary poetry from New West Library and CowboyPoetry.com.  

Each chapter begins with a classic poem or song, including the first rendition of "Home on the Range,"  Gail I. Gardner's "The Sierry Petes (or Tyin' Knots in the Devil's Tail)," Robert Service's "The Cremation of Sam Magee," and other traditional favorites such as "I Ride an Old Paint," and "Git Along Little Dogies."

Over 140 contemporary American, Canadian, English, and Australian poets are represented in The Big Roundup, including all the CowboyPoetry.com Honored Guests, Lariat Laureates and runners up, featured poets such as Red Steagall, and other top poets from CowboyPoetry.com.

Read excerpts and more here, along with order information (this book is offered as a 'thank you' to our supporters).  


Click for Amazon  Cowboy Poets & Cowboy Poetry by David Stanley and Elaine Thatcher (Editors) 

This paperback edition of 27 essays came out in February, 2000.  It's a fine scholarly look at what Publisher's Weekly calls "a rich, complex idiom." David Stanley is a professor of English and director of the environmental studies program at Utah's Westminster College, and Elaine Thatcher is President of the Santa Fe's Heritage Arts Services.  There's a hardcover edition as well.

  Cowgirl Poetry : One Hundred Years of Ridin' and Rhymin' by Virginia Bennett

From the Amazon review "The heart and soul of the West is seen through the eyes of its women-cowgirl poets writing about jinglin' the horses home, haymaking time, cowboy courtin', livin' free, July thunderstorms, and real wealth, among other things close to a cowgirl's heart. And, of course, there are plenty of poignant observations on life and men."  

BAR-D poets in this book include Lariat Laureate runner up Lariat Laureate runner up Barbara Bockleman; Honored Guests Buckshot Dot (Dee Strickland Johnson), Sally Harper Bates, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Carole Jarvis, Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns, and Debra Coppinger Hill; and A. Kathy Moss.   

Virginia Bennett is our Honored Guest and we have more information about her and some great selections of her poetry here.  

This book is available directly from the publisher:

See our Anthology Index for a list of the poems and poets in this book.

  Spurrin' the Words, created by Kirk Astroth, Director of the Montana 4-H Center for Youth Development, has a youth guide and an accompanying leader's guide, each with a CD with 13 tracks of classic and contemporary poetry recited by and commented upon by Mike Logan, Gwen Peterson, and Paul Zarzyski. The depth and breadth of the material is impressive, drawing on the best examples of poetry in chapters that address the history of Cowboy Poetry's language, stereotypes about cowboys (with information on American Indian, black, and female cowboys), the basics of rhyme of meter, classic poets, and more.  Included are a glossary, a list of resources and references, a directory of poetry gatherings, and many games and activities. See our feature here. Each book is available for just $10 postpaid from the Montana 4-H Center for Youth Development, MSU, 210 Taylor Hall, Bozeman, MT 59717. Specify whether you are ordering the leader's guide or the youth guide.  

Click to view at Amazon.com  Cowboy Love Poetry : Verse from the Heart of the West
by editors Paddy Calistro, Jack Lamb, Jean Penn, and Waddie Mitchell

See our Anthology Index for a list of the poems and poets in this book.

  Coolin' Down, An Anthology of Cowboy Poetry   
compiled by Phil Martin, illustrations by Keith Avery, Duward Campbell, and Bob Peterson
Guy Logsdon Books, Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1992

This book is out of print.   See our Anthology Index for a list of the poems and poets in this book.

  Maverick Western Verse
edited by John Dofflemyer, Gibbs Smith, Logan Utah, 1994. "Maverick Western Verse is a thought-provoking celebration of contemporary, western-themed poetry, and a dramatic demonstration of just how far cowboy expression has evolved and how wide-ranging it has become." (from the back cover). Over 40 poets are represented.  

This book is out of print, but often available at used book outlets.  See our Anthology Index for a list of the poems and poets in this book. 

Click to view at Amazon.com  Between Earth and Sky : Poets of the Cowboy West   (paperback) (hardcover) by editors Anne Heath Widmark, Kent Reeves, Anne Heath Widmark, and Kim R. Stafford

Beautiful photography and biographical portraits accompany an anthology of the work of twelve poets of the American West--including Linda Hussa, Paul Zarzyski, and Wallace McRae--who write about their relationships with the rhythms of land, animals, and seasons. Amazon Review  See an index of this book in our Anthology Index.

Click for Amazon  Cowboy Poetry Matters : From Abilene to the Mainstream : Contemporary Cowboy Writing by Robert McDowell (Editor)

From the Amazon review "Certainly cultural nostalgia for the Wild West hooks us into reading the poems, but nostalgia and the rugged individualism with which cowboys are thoughtlessly encumbered aren't their stock-in-trade. Instead, the qualities that predominate are hard, painful work; the fellowship of those, including the horses, who do it; and the stunning beauties and otherness of the natural world in which it is done."

See our Anthology Index for a list of the poems and poets in this book.

  Poetry of the American West 
                                                            by Alison Hawthorne Deming (Editor)

In his article about Cowboy Poetry, Tom Mayo describes this book and says "Cowboy poetry is well represented here, but this collection offers a vast array of poetic responses to the West and the lives that were made and lost there."

 

Click for Amazon  Cowboys are Part Human: A Collection of Western Poetry by Ellen Schmidt, Dona Schreur

From the book description: Rodeos and campfires, outhouses and forty-fives, dudes and broncs, drugstore cowboys and ornery bears - this lively book of cowboy poetry focuses on these and other themes that have made the American West memorable. Whimsical illustrations by Dave Holl bring the spirit of the poetry alive. The poetry entertains, amuses, and inspires, for it represents the enduring custom of sharing the humorous, the sad, the joyous, and the philosophic outlook of these unique individuals, the cowboys who are "part human." The sixty-page brown and white book features twenty-seven different contributors from the states of Texas, Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Oklahoma, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, and New Mexico, as well as from New Zealand and Canada. A glossary of terms and brief biographies of the poets are included showing that the poets write about the life they actually live. The book will be appeal to anyone interested in the cowboy lifestyle, the culture of the West, and poetry in general.

Among the BAR-D poets included are Lariat Laureate finalist Rod Miller and Honored Guest Debra Coppinger Hill.

See our Anthology Index for a list of the poems and poets in this book.


  Cattle, Horses, Sky, and Grass: Cowboy Poetry of the Late Twentieth Century Warren Miller, editor

Warren Miller is the Education Director of Sharlot Hall Museum.  He founded the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering in 1998 and was involved in the first Cowboy Poetry Gathering at Elko and many subsequent gatherings.   

See our Anthology Index for a list of the poems and poets in this book.

   Buckaroo, Visions and Voices of the American Cowboy edited by Hal Cannon and Thomas West

It's hard to understand how this book could have gone out of print, but copies remain available from the Western Folklife Center and are often available at used book outlets..  To quote from the jacket "Buckaroo introduces the leading figures of the contemporary cowboy movement -- one of the most dynamic cultural forces in America today.  A fully integrated book and compact disc, Buckaroo brings to a wide audience for the first time the best cowboy writing, photography, painting, and song."  Among the featured writers and musicians are Don Edwards, Ian Tyson, Wallace McRae, Waddie Mitchell, Buck Ramsey, and Paul Zarzyski.    

See our Anthology Index for a list of the poems and poets in this book.

grainbk.jpg (149568 bytes)  Graining the Mare : The Poetry of Ranch Women by Teresa Jordan, editor and photographer, 1994, Gibbs Smith Publisher, Layton, Utah

In his article about Cowboy Poetry, Tom Mayo describes this book "These are spectacular poems by 35 women ranging in age from their 20s to their 90s; this 1994 book is, unfortunately, already out of stock. Happily, some of the writers featured in Graining the Mare are included in Cowgirl Poetry." There may be copies available from Amazon and the book may be available from the Western Folklife Center.

See our Anthology Index for a list of the poems and poets in this book.

Click to view at Amazon.com  Home on the Range : Cowboy Poetry   
selected by Paul B. Janeczko, Bernie Fuchs (Illustrator)

A timeless portrait of cowboy (and cowgirl) life emerges from 20 illustrated poems. Some of the selections are humorous, some respectful, some impassioned, but most have the echo of truth that comes from those who know their subject. The poems deal with friendship, hardship, weather, hay, and hungry cows; all speak to a love and respect for the land, animals, open skies, and freedom. . .Amazon Review

See our Anthology Index for a list of the poems and poets in this book.

  PRAIRIE POETRY: Cowboy Verse of Kansas by Jim Hoy

See other books by our Honored Guest Jim Hoy below, and read more about him and his work (and poetry) here at the BAR-D.

This book is published by Wichita Eagle Beacon Publishing Company, 1995. (This book can be ordered from your local bookstore or by calling BOOK KANSAS! At 1-800-790-2665.)

     Live At Elko, Cowboy Poets  

This video, recorded at the 10th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, includes Buck Ramsey, Joel Nelson, R. W. Hampton, Virginia Bennett, Gwen Peterson,  Waddie Mitchell, Bill Wood, Ian Tyson, Michael Martin Murphey, Don Edwards, Wallace McRae, Stephanie Davis, Riders in the Sky, the Sons of the San Joaquin, Paul Zarzyski...and many others, in a film that is about the next best thing to being there.  It's available through Amazon and at the Cowboys' Store at the Western Folklife Center.

  Missouri Cowboy Poetry from the Missouri Cowboy Poets Association, edited by Leroy Watts 

This collection includes over 200 poems from 35 poets in its 315 pages, and illustrations, photos, stories and even a few recipes. Poets include Lariat Laureate Neal Torrey, Lariat Laureate runners up Gail T. Burton, John D. (Jay) Jones, Francine Roark Robison, and old pards Peggy Coleman, Rex Henderson, Judith E. "JJ" Johnston, Jimmi Naylor, Leroy Watts, and other fine poets. You can order the book from the MCPA for $18.00 plus $3.00 S&H:  Rt. 1, Box 155-A, Verona, MO 65769.

 

   Riding the Northern Range: Poems from the Last Best-West, edited by Ted Stone; Red Deer College Press, Red Deer, Alberta, 1993 

From the back cover "...Riding the Northern Range: Poems from the Last Best-West brings together memorable poems of the last century with the best-loved works of contemporary song writers and cowboy poets such as Ian Tyson, Wallace McRae, Mike Logan, and Corky Williams...From Montana and the Dakotas to the Prairies and British Columbia, this collection captures the heart of a uniquely western culture...." See our Anthology Index for a list of the poems and poets in this book.

 

  Humorous Cowboy Poetry, A Knee Slappin' Gathering, edited by Dawn Valentine Hadlock and Madge Baird, Gibbs Smith, Layton, Utah, 1995.  Cover art by Boots Reynolds

A great collection of classic and contemporary humorous Cowboy Poetry.  See the full index here.

The book is Available from the publisher and from Amazon and other sources including SilverCreek Books & Music.

 

Music

Click for Don Edward's site  Classic Cowboy Songs by Don Edwards

This book of classic cowboy songs and their origins includes Don Edward's candid autobiography, which includes many amusing and poignant tales about his life and his career.  The book includes lyrics, melody line & guitar chords. It is available in hardcover and paperback, and should be a part of any serious library of Western music (a limited quantity of hard cover editions are available, and you can order an autographed copy). For this book and more music, visit Don Edward's site.

 

  Saddle Songs, a Cowboy Songbag by Don Edwards

This book includes 72 favorite and original cowboy songs and ballads with words and music to songs, including "Strawberry Roan," "I'd Like To Be In Texas," "Minstrel of the Range," and "Zebra Dunn." For this book and more music, visit Don Edward's site.

 

  Old-Time Cowboy Songs, edited by Hal Cannon

This wonderful collection of about 50 classic songs, originally accompanied with a cassette tape with a selection of the songs, is now out of print.  It's worth searching used book sources (try the Amazon link) to have your own copy of Hal Cannon's eloquent introduction that defines Cowboy and Western music, and for his comments, along with words and chords to songs such as "Annie Laurie," "A Bad Half Hour," "Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie," "Night Herding Song," "Powder River, Let 'er Buck," "When the Work's All Done this Fall," "Little Joe, the Wrangler," "Hittin' the Trail Tonight," and so many more.  His suggestions for further reading and listening will send you along many many happy musical trails.  See our feature on this book here, which includes the complete introduction and a complete list of the songs included.

The author of many books, Hal Cannon is the founding Director of the Western Folklife Center and its National Cowboy Poetry Gathering at Elko, Nevada and an undisputed expert on Cowboy music.  You can read more about him and the recent film he co-produced, Why the Cowboy Sings, here.

 

 

  The Hell-Bound Train: A Cowboy Songbook by Glenn Ohrlin

Cattleman, former rodeo cowboy, singer and songwriter Glenn Ohrlin has been called a national treasure.  He was named a National Endowment for the Arts' National Heritage Fellow in 1985.  He is profiled in Why The Cowboy Sings. This now-classic book gathers his knowledge of Western folk songs, with extensive commentary on 100 songs.

Click for Amazon  Ten Thousand Goddam Cattle, A History of the American Cowboy in Song, Story, and Verse, by Katie Lee

A classic of Cowboy lore, based on Katie Lee's interviews, travels, encyclopedic knowledge, and deep love of Cowboy history. 

Also available from Katie Lee at www.katydoodit.com:

  Katie Lee Sings Ten Thousand Goddam Cattle, a CD collection of 28 songs from her book, played and sung by Katie Lee, Travis Edmonson, Earl Edmonson and Will Holt. The CD includes the complete liner notes—filled with facts, stories, and colorful backgroundfrom the original double LP record.
 

  The Last Wagon DVD, her award-winning documentary featuring Arizona cowboy legends Gail I. Gardner and Billy Simon. The lively film includes much footage of the two and their performances of songs including Gardner's "The Sierry Petes," and "Real Cowboy Life," and Badger's Clark's "A Cowboy's Prayer" and "A Border Affair/Spanish is a Loving Tongue." All three join in swapping memories and tall tales at Gail Gardner's home. There are scenes of horseman Billy Simon working with his cutting and show horses, and conversations with his wife, Betty, a rodeo clown, at their horse camp.

Songs of the Cowboys by N. Howard "Jack" Thorp

This is a facsimile edition of N. Howard "Jack" Thorp's original 1908 Songs of the Cowboys. It includes 23 Cowboy songs, including "Cowboy's Lament" "Little Joe, The Wrangler" and "Cowboys' Christmas Ball."

  Songs of the Cowboys; The First Printed Collection of Cowboy Songs Collected at the Turn of the Century by N. Howard ("Jack") Thorp; Variants, Commentary, Notes and Lexicon  by Austin E. and Alta S. Fife. New York, C. N. Potter, 1966

This out-of-print book includes Thorp's original book and (from the book jacket) "they have given for each song a general commentary and music; sources for an individual bibliography; the texts of variations; lists of commercial recordings, field recordings, and manuscripts; and places where there has been significant discussion of the song.  There is also a lexicon of cowboy words and phrases, a general bibliography, and an analytical index."   There are often copies available from used book sources.

 

  Songs of the Cowboys, compiled by N. Howard Thorp ("Jack" Thorp) with an introduction by Alice Corbin Henderson. Boston, New York, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1921.  See our feature and selections from this book here.

  Jack Thorp's Songs of the Cowboys, edited by Mark Gardner

The Museum of New Mexico Press has published "a celebration of the work of Jack Thorp," Jack Thorp's Songs of the Cowboys, edited by Mark Gardner, with illustrations by Ronald Kil. The book has an accompanying CD with selected songs from Thorp's 1908 and expanded 1921 edition of Songs of the Cowboys, and the project includes a previously unpublished song. Thorp collected the songs for nearly 20 years, starting in the late 1800's. Gardner and Rex Rideout recorded the songs on vintage instruments played in the style that Thorp would have heard the songs in his time.  See our feature here.

Jack Thorp's Songs of the Cowboys is available from the Museum of New Mexico Press, Amazon, and other sources.  

  Cowboy Songs and other Frontier Ballads, by John A. Lomax and Alan Lomax, Macmillan, New York: 1938. 

This book is the last "revised and enlarged" version that grew from John Lomax's 1910 and 1916 editions.  It is a comprehensive anthology, and an indispensable reference book by the man who did the most to collect Cowboy songs.

There are reprints of this book and copies can sometimes be found from sellers of used books.

 

  Songs of the Cattle Trail and Cow Camp, by John A. Lomax, Macmillan, New York: 1920

Lomax writes in the introduction that this book "does not purport to be an anthology of Western verse. As its title indicates, the contents of the book are limited to attempts, more or less poetic, in translating scenes connected with the life of a cowboy.  The volume is in reality a by-product of my earlier collection, 'Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads.'  In the former book I put together what seemed to me to be the best of the songs created and sung by the cowboys as they went about their work...The trails are becoming dust covered or grass grown or lost underneath the farmer's furrow; but in the selections of this volume, many of them poems by courtesy, men of today and and those who are to follow, may sense, at least in some small measure, the service, the glamour, the romance of that knight-errant of the plains -- the American cowboy." 

This book is the last "revised and enlarged" version that grew from John Lomax's 1910 and 1916 editions.  It is a comprehensive anthology, and an indispensable reference book by the man who did the most to collect Cowboy songs.

This book is out of print, and may be available from libraries and used bookstores.

 

  American Ballads & Folk Songs  by John A. Lomax and Alan Lomax

First published in 1932, this book contains the words to over 200 songs, some with music. Chapters include "Cowboy Songs" and "Vaqueros of the Southwest."  There is a recent paperback edition and used copies are widely available from used book sources.

 

 

  He Was Singin' This Song by Jim Bob Tinsley, with forewords by Gene Autry and S. Omar Barker

"A collection of 48 traditional songs of the American Cowboy, with words, music, pictures, and stories."  This 1981 book is out of print, but available at libraries and through used book sources.

 

   Git Along, Little Dogies: Songs and Songmakers of the American West (Music in American Life Series) by John I. White, Austin E. Fife  Reprint edition (October 1989)

This classic full of facts, lore, and music by writer and cowboy singer John I. White (1902-1992) was reissued in 1989. You can see the complete contents and other sample pages at Amazon.

  The Whorehouse Bells Were Ringing and Other Songs Cowboys Sing by Guy Logsdon

Guy Logsdon is retired from the University of Tulsa, where "he was director of libraries and professor of education and American folklife...currently works as an entertainer, writer, and publisher of cowboy music and poetry." (from Cowboy Poets and Cowboy Poetry (described above), where he has a chapter titled "The Tradition of Cowboy Poetry."  Click the cover or here for the Amazon information or see the publisher's information (University of Illinois Press) here for this book published in 1995.

 

  Cowboy and Western Songs: A Comprehensive Anthology
by Austin E. Fife, Alta S. Fife, music editor Mary Jo Schwab, illustrations by J. K. Ralston

"A comprehensive anthology, 200 songs with music lines and guitar chords."  The book also includes a 15-page
"lexicon," a dictionary of words used in many of the included songs. This 1969 book is out of print. There's a reprint available:

  Cowboy and Western Songs: A Comprehensive Anthology
by Austin E. Fife, Alta S. Fife  Reissue edition (October 2001)


From the Amazon description: This info-packed, 372-page collection features 200 American cowboy songs with complete lyrics, lead lines and guitar chords, plus an extensive introduction, notes on the songs, illustrations by J.K. Ralston throughout, a lexicon of cowboy terms, a general index and an index of titles and first lines, and more. Songs include: "Billy the Kid," "Blood on the Saddle," "Buffalo Gals," "Clementine," "Dakota Land," "The Girl I Left Behind Me," "Going West," "Jesse James," "Johnny Cake," "Old Paint," "Punchin' Dough," "Red River Valley," "Red Wing," "Shenandoah," "Steamboat Bill," "The Streets of Laredo," "The Texas Cowboy," and many more

 

  Why the Cowboy Sings, co-produced and directed by Hal Cannon and Taki Telonidis

This is a video version of a film that premiered in January 2002 as a signature event of the Salt Lake City Olympics, and has been awarded a Rocky Mountain Emmy and a Gold Special Jury Award at the Houston Film Festival.  The film features Stephanie Davis, Glen Ohrlin, Henry Real Bird, and the Schutte family of Nevada. Our editor Margo Metegrano saw the film at the 2002 Kanab, Utah Western Legends Roundup and Cowboy Poetry Rodeo, and wrote, in part, "The lyrical introduction lets you in on the deep roots of Hal Cannon's love for Cowboy music, and gives a glimpse of him performing, and some footage of the earliest National Cowboy Poetry Gathering at Elko, Nevada. As more contemporary shots of some of the Elko stars are shown -- such as Linda Hussa, Paul Zarzyski, and Wallace McCrae -- Hal Cannon asks Waddie Mitchell: "Why does the cowboy sing?"  Waddie responds: "Why does a frog croak?"  The film blossoms to show the profundity underlying the humor of that response.  The in-depth pieces with the featured subjects shed some light on why the cowboy sings, but perhaps even more importantly, they show an authentic portrait of the people of the real West."   You can order Why the Cowboy Sings from Hal Cannon's FieldnotesWest site or from the Western Folklife Center.

See our feature here.


 

History, Folkore, and More

 

ANDY ADAMS 

Click for Amazon The Log of a Cowboy : A Narrative of the Old Trail Days, by Andy Adams

Andy Adams was 16 when he left the San Antonio valley as a cowboy. This classic book tells of the life of the range during the heyday of the cattle drives, in the late 1800s.

JIM HOY

Our Honored Guest Jim Hoy is at work on a book about F. H. Maynard, author of "The Cowboy's Lament" (also known as “Streets of Laredo”).  The book, The Winning of the Wild: the Adventures, in Prose and Poetry, of F. H. Maynard, An Old-time Cowboy,is based on the memoirs of Maynard's ten years on the open range during the 1870s.

   His most recent book, Vaqueros, Cowboys, and Buckaroos, coauthored with Lawrence Clayton and Jerald Underwood, is published by the University of Texas You can read an excerpt, a detailed description of the book, and see the table of contents, and order the book at the University of Texas site here.  The detailed description is also at Amazon.com and there are excerpts on Jim Hoy's page here at the BAR-D.

Other of Jim Hoy's books include:

Click for Amazon  COWBOYS AND KANSAS: Stories from the Tallgrass Prairie
University of Oklahoma Press, 1995

PLAINS FOLK: A Commonplace of the Great Plains
University of Oklahoma Press, 1987

PLAINS FOLK II: The Romance of the Landscape
University of Oklahoma Press, 1990.
(You can read the Amazon review of this book here)

(The above three books can be ordered from your local bookstore or directly from the University of Oklahoma Press by calling 1-800-627-7377 or by calling
BOOK KANSAS! at 1-800-790-2665.)


PRAIRIE POETRY: Cowboy Verse of Kansas
Wichita Eagle Beacon Publishing Company, 1995.
(This book can be ordered from your local bookstore or by calling BOOK
KANSAS! At 1-800-790-2665.)


RIDING POINT: A Centennial History of the Kansas Livestock Association
North Dakota State University Center for Regional Studies, 1994.
(This book can be ordered from the Kansas Livestock Association at
913-273-5115.)


THE FLINT HILLS OF KANSAS
Kaw Valley Films, 1987
(This video can be ordered from Kaw Valley Films at 913-631-3040.)

CHARLES M. RUSSELL 


Click for Amazon Trails Plowed Under : Stories of the Old West by Charles M. Russell

A book of classic stories from on the premier painters of the West.

  We Pointed Them North; Recollections of a Cowpuncher by E.C. "Teddy Blue" Abbott and Helena Huntington Smith

The popular, lively stories of a cowboy in the trail-driving days.

 

We welcome your suggestions for additions to this list. Email us.

 

Always more to come...

 

 

 

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