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photo © 2009, Lori Faith Merritt, www.photographybyfaith.com

Don Edwards

 


Photo: Donald Kallaus

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Now the range is a-changin' into neon and noise
And folks have lost touch with the land
They may tap their feet to an old cowboy song
But mostly they won't understand.

That sad, lonesome feelin' when the last coyote cries
For the soul of the drifter with nowhere to ride
Soon only the night wind will sing his refrain
This vanishing minstrel of the range.

from "Minstrel of the Range"

Don Edwards keeps cowboy songs alive and honors the contributions of the singers of the past in his performances and recordings.

Anyone who has had the pleasure to meet Don Edwards is likely from then on to follow any mention of his name with "what a nice guy." America's favorite cowboy singer is admired for his generous spirit, his knowledge of cowboy music and history, and of course for his considerable talent as a performer and composer. 

Don Edwards has written:

"Cowboy music gave me my life. I've always enjoyed playing cowboy ballads — the folk music of our past. It's been rewarding to know that I've helped to preserve the music and the important truths of those people who lived close to the land. The key to the future is the past. That's kinda what we're here for. We need these values now more than any other time." 


 

Don Edwards is described as "the voice of the American cowboy" in the cover story in the June, 2007 issue of Western Horseman. "Call of the Cowboy," by Senior Editor Jennifer Denison explores Don Edwards' interests and career, with a focus on his wide knowledge and study of the history of cowboy music. His longtime friend and frequent performing partner Waddie Mitchell contributes comments, and an excerpt from his poem, "Don," is included in the article, which is generously illustrated with John Brasseaux's photographs.

Read the entire article in a PDF file at the Western Jubilee web site, which has additional information about Don Edwards and his recordings.


Don Edwards shared the lyrics to  his  "Minstrel of the Range," posted below. This song appears in his book, Classic Cowboy Songs, in a slightly different, earlier version and on his acclaimed Saddle Songs recording. In his book, Don Edwards tells that the song is a tribute to Curley Fletcher and other early cowboy minstrels.

We thank Don Edwards for lending us his words, Kathy Edwards for all of her kind and efficient help, and Don's agent Scott O'Malley of Scott O'Malley and Associates for background information. 

Below:

"Minstrel of the Range"

Don Edwards' Official Biography

Don Edwards' Books and Recordings

Performance Schedule

Contact Information

 


Minstrel of the Range

See him out there a-rangin' alone
A solitary rider from out of the past
Hidin' and singin' all by himself
Of the old singin' cowboys, he may be the last.

With a war bag of songs and a wore-out guitar
He chases the sundown and sings to the stars
Listen to him singin' his melancholy strain
This wanderin' minstrel of the range.

No wanderer I've known could ever sing
A more welcome song to a trail weary herd
As he sang to the cattle on those dark lonely nights
His voice softly ringin' like his jingle-bob spurs.

He'd rather be singin' to the cattle at night
Feel the warmth of a campfire than cold city lights
And he don't give a damn about fortune and fame
This ramblin' minstrel of the range.

No troubles no worries just travelin' on
Don't care where he's goin' don't care where he's been
The rhythm of his song is the gait of his horse
And he tunes his guitar to the wind.

Soft falls the tune of the troubadour's song
"I'm a poor lonesome cowboy, I know I've done wrong"
Singin' 'bout cowboys, horses and trains
This wanderin' minstrel of the range.

Now the range is a-changin' into neon and noise
And folks have lost touch with the land
They may tap their feet to an old cowboy song
But mostly they won't understand.

That sad, lonesome feelin' when the last coyote cries
For the soul of the drifter with nowhere to ride
Soon only the night wind will sing his refrain
This vanishing minstrel of the range.

© 1987 Don Edwards,Night Horse Songs/BMI  Reprinted with permission
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Click for Don Edward's site

In Don Edwards' Classic Cowboy Songs, he writes about "Minstrel of the Range":

"I wanted to write a song that paid tribute to Curley Fletcher and other cowboy minstrels of the early days.  I didn't have the foggiest idea how or what I was going to write with the title I had dreamed up, until one day I was reading some of William Wordsworth's poetry and came across a poem called 'The Solitary Reaper.' As I read and reread this poem, words began coming to me as the 'Solitary Reaper' became a 'Solitary Cowboy.'  Where the tune came from, I don't know..." 

(Classic Cowboy Songs includes melody line and guitar cords.)

The poem by William Wordsworth (1770-1850) was first published in 1807:

The Solitary Reaper

          BEHOLD her, single in the field,
          Yon solitary Highland Lass!
          Reaping and singing by herself;
          Stop here, or gently pass!
          Alone she cuts and binds the grain,
          And sings a melancholy strain;
          O listen! for the Vale profound
          Is overflowing with the sound.
 
          No Nightingale did ever chaunt
          More welcome notes to weary bands                           
          Of travellers in some shady haunt,
          Among Arabian sands:
          A voice so thrilling ne'er was heard
          In spring-time from the Cuckoo-bird,
          Breaking the silence of the seas
          Among the farthest Hebrides.
 
          Will no one tell me what she sings?--
          Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
          For old, unhappy, far-off things,
          And battles long ago:                                       
          Or is it some more humble lay,
          Familiar matter of to-day?
          Some natural sorrow, loss, or pain,
          That has been, and may be again?
 
          Whate'er the theme, the Maiden sang
          As if her song could have no ending;
          I saw her singing at her work,
          And o'er the sickle bending;--
          I listened, motionless and still;
          And, as I mounted up the hill                               
          The music in my heart I bore,
          Long after it was heard no more.

 

 

See Don Edward's The Ballad of Jack Thorp in a feature about Jack Thorp's Songs of the Cowboys

Find Here's Looking at You, a collaboration with Joel Nelson, in Before the Song.

 


Don Edwards' Official Biography

Don Edwards continues to build a recorded legacy enriching our vision of the American West. In its tales of the day-to-day lives and emotions of those who have lived it, his ballads paint a sweeping landscape of both mind and heart, keeping alive the sights, sounds and feelings of this most American contribution to culture and art. The quality of this cowboy balladeer's music stems from the fact that he is so much more than a singer. Bobby Weaver of the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, summed up Edwards' importance as "... the best purveyor of cowboy music in America today."

An historian, author and musicologist, someone well-versed in cowboy lore and musical traditions, Don brings a rare complement of knowledge of and love for his craft. Mostly though, there is the soul of a poet; a man who has never succumbed to any temptation to present a glamorized or romanticized version of the West. Edwards deals with bad weather and petty motivation, with sadness, nostalgia and longing as parts of the landscape like any other.

The son of a vaudeville magician, Don was exposed as a child to a vast cross-section of music from classical to jazz, and blues to western-swing. Many of those influences enter his own music as they did some of the music of the West. Edwards was drawn to the cowboy life by the books of Will James and B Westerns of the silver screen, particularly those featuring "sure- 'nuff cowboys" like Tom Mix and Ken Maynard. He taught himself guitar starting at age ten, and chased the rodeo and worked ranches in Texas and New Mexico during his teens. In 1961, he got a job as an actor/singer/stuntman at Six Flags Over Texas and he was to stick with music from then on. He made his first record in 1964.

Don became part owner of the White Elephant Saloon in the Ft. Worth stockyards and would play acoustic sets on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and with a band on weekends. "Esquire" magazine has named the White Elephant one of America's 100 best bars. Edwards also began playing throughout Oklahoma and Texas, and with the inception of the Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada achieved widespread recognition. He has now entertained throughout the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, New Zealand, Europe and the Far East.

Don Edwards has two albums, Guitars & Saddle Songs and Songs of the Cowboy, included in the Folklore Archives of the Library of Congress. These anthologies have been re-recorded and expanded as the 32-song double CD/cassette called Saddle Songs. This project took first place as the Best Folk/Traditional Album of the year at the annual INDIE Awards Ceremony held in May of 1998. The collection is on Western Jubilee Recording Company's label. He has twice received the National Cowboy Hall of Fame's "Wrangler Award" for Outstanding Traditional Western Music, once for his recording Chant of the Wanderer in 1992 and for the second time in 1996 for West of Yesterday. Other projects include: a book release by the Gibbs Smith Publishing Co. entitled Classic Cowboy Songs; performing on Nanci Griffith's Grammy-winning video and recording, Other Voices, Other Rooms; co-presenter along with Waddie Mitchell on the network-televised Academy of Country Music Awards and featured performer for the prestigious "Golden Boot Awards."

Don has presented educational services at Yale, Rice, Texas Christian and many other Universities. His recordings under the Warner Western label, Goin ' Back to Texas, Songs of the Trail and The Bard & The Balladeer have spawned a new audience for his craft. His Warner Western recording, West Of Yesterday (1996) was produced by Jim Rooney and features Don's long-time Ft. Worth-based band, the 7-Bar Cowboys. The summer of 1997 found Don in Livingston, Montana portraying the role of "Smokey" in Robert Redford 's film The Horse Whisperer. In addition to this acting/singing role, Don is featured on the MCA soundtrack. In May of 1998, to coincide with "The Horse Whisperer" theater release, Warner Western compiled and released The Best of Don Edwards while Western Jubilee offered Don's recording My Hero Gene Autry recorded live at Mr. Autry's 90th Birthday.

The richness of Don's voice coupled with his magical stage presentation makes Don Edwards America's number one western singer and concert attraction. The accolades though, have been simply added bonuses for Edwards, who sings what he does out of love and respect for the genre. Don's career continues to blossom, and luckily for all who care about it, he has because of his sincere approach, added much to the literature and music of the West, passing on to the rest of us a legacy rich for his efforts.

Santa Cruz Guitar's "Cowboy Singer"


image courtesy of Santa Cruz Guitar Company

In 2011, Santa Cruz Guitar Company created the "Don Edwards 50th Anniversary Cowboy Singer Model" guitar. They comment:

If we don't continue to tell the stories of the past, they will no longer be remembered. Don Edwards understands this, and has devoted his life to keeping the lyrics and lore the old west alive and well in the mind and hearts of America. 2011 marks the 50th anniversary in the music business for this most beloved cowboy poet and balladeer, and in honor of this career milestone, Santa Cruz Guitar Company is thrilled to debut the Don Edwards Signature Model Guitar....

Read more here at the Santa Cruz Guitar Company site, where there are also specifications and photos.

Celebrating its 35th anniversary in 2011, the Santa Cruz Guitar Company has made guitars for music luminaries including Steve Earle, John Denver, Joey Miskulin, Joan Baez, Johnny Cash, Doc Watson, Dave Matthews, Gillian Welch, Elvis Costello and many others (find a list here).

(Pictured with Don Edwards in the official poster is his traveling pal, Smoky.)

In 2012, they created a Don Edwards' "Cowboy Singer Bandana." It is described, "We are proud to now be carrying the official Don Edwards ‘Cowboy Singer’ bandana. This sturdy cotton hanky pays homage to the Gene Autry and Roy Rogers bandanas of the past, but with photos of Don Edwards, his Cowboy Singer guitar, his signature and his ‘Singing Hills’ ranch, along with other classic cowboy designs. Looks great on humans, dogs, horses and guitars." You can see it here, modeled by Don Edwards and also by Smoky.

The poster is also available here.

 

Don Edwards' Books and Recordings

Just some of his offerings; visit www.DonEdwardsMusic.com for more:

 

  Just Me and My Guitar (2013) by Don Edwards

From our announcement:

Though Don Edwards is arguably the greatest modern American cowboy balladeer, he's a man of quiet humility. His new recording, Just Me and My Guitar, doesn't come with any slick media releases or hype. Even the title is humble. The packaging is spare, only a track list and credits. After all, it's what's inside, a deeply rich treasury of impressive picking, singing and composition that is important to the audience, and, obviously, to him.

Steeped in music history, he is the master interpreter of traditional songs, and among the album's selections are "Jack O' Diamonds," "When I Was a Cowboy," "Poor Lonesome Cowboy," and "Cowboy's Lament." More recent standards are given the same respectful yet fresh presentation as well, such as Tex Owens' "Cattle Call"; Stan Jones' "Riders in the Sky," and Bob Nolan's "Cool Water."

Much of the project is suffused with an appealing, certain bluesy melancholy. Hank Williams' "Weary Blues" and three songs by Jimmie Rodgers, including "Waiting for a Train" and "Cowhand's Last Ride," complement Don Edwards' own blues pieces ("Cowtown Blues" and "Cyclone Blues")—all are among the most outstanding, complex tracks.

There's also Don Edwards' popular tribute to Tom Mix, "West of Yesterday"; the powerful "How Great Thou Art"; and more, 17 total tracks.

It all makes for great listening.

Don Edwards has been an ambassador of cowboy music to the wide world; his work is an enduring legacy. Known for his generosity as well as his humility, he has nurtured the talents of other deserving artists who will carry on the traditions. To be able to listen to "just him and his guitar" with such sincere performances is his most recent generous gift to us all.
 

  Saddle Songs, a Cowboy Songbag by Don Edwards

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 Dun."

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's site.

 

   Western Jubilee Recording Company's "Moving Pictures Collection" Don Edwards DVD includes an hour concert, recorded in 2007 at the atmospheric Western Jubilee Warehouse Theatre (originally a Santa Fe Freight House, built in 1887). The carefully produced concert gives an up-close experience with a satisfying collection of masterful performances of songs including "I'd Like to Be in Texas, "Cattle Call," "Master's Call," "The Old Cowman," "Coyotes," and seven others. A compelling bonus feature, "Don Edwards: Ramblin's of the Road," is a wide-ranging conversation with Don Edwards that includes vintage stills and video, Dons' comments on his musical beginnings, his instruments (including a 1905 and a 1921 Martin guitar), interesting recording history information, Nashville, the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, being a "close observer of cowboys," and more from his 50-year career. The piece includes clips from The Horse Whisperer (with a comment by Robert Redford), stills with Rex Allen (with whom Don Edwards recorded an album) and Gene Autry, and a short piece from a documentary narrated by James Earl Jones.

Find information about the "Moving Pictures Collection," including video samples and more at the Western Jubilee Recording Company web site. and you can also order from Don Edwards' web site.

 

See Don Edward's store at his web site for his 
book and recordings. There you'll find:

 

  American (2010) includes:

 1. I Am a Pilgrim, Merle Travis
 2. Dixie/America the Beautiful, Dan Emmet/Katherine Lee Bates
 3. The Union Mare & the Confederate Grey, Paul Kennerly
 4. The Freedom Song, Andy Wilkinson
 5. The Hell-bound Train, J.W. Pruitte
 6.  Hard Times, Don Edwards
 7.  My Own Native Land, Mary Robbins
 8.  There's a Star-Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere, Shelby Darnell & Paul Roberts
 9.  The Last Cowboy Song, Ed Bruce, Ron Peterson
10.  The Devil's Hatband, Don Edwards
11.  The Campfire Has Gone Out, traditional, arranged and adapted by Don Edwards
12.  This Land is Your Land, Woody Guthrie, additional lyrics by Andy Wilkinson

A national treasure and tireless ambassador for cowboy and Western music, Don Edwards represents the "loyal opposition" in his impressive new CD, American. With American songs from "America the Beautiful" to "The Hell-bound Train," to "This Land is Your Land," he offers a defiant pride, a rebellious patriotic message, and a fierce love for his country and for the West.

In perfect voice and with his fine guitar—sometimes complemented by instrumentalist extraordinaire Rich O'Brien on harmonica and banjo
Don Edwards takes a stand and commands attention. He weaves songs from Merle Travis, Marty Robbins, Andy Wilkinson, Woody Guthrie, and others into his narrative of history. His message is unmistakable in the songs and lines he chooses, in his adaptations and arrangements, and in his original lyrics. Some seldom-sung lines in "America the Beautiful" sum up the call to attention: "Till selfish gain no longer stain the banner of the free!"

It's an album for the times. A standout anchor of the collection, his "Hard Times" could be a song from the 1930's work camps. An indictment of government greed and corruption, one line will be remembered and repeated, "Left wing or right wing I've got this to say: they're just two wings of the same bird of the prey." When we asked about the song's inspiration, he told us he "... sort of mixed some lyrics from an old song collected by John Lomax around 1907 or 1908, and some of my own. I just thought it was time for a philosophical cowboy protest song abut big government and big business out of control..." (The Lomax-collected song is "Hard Times," see it here.)

In
American, Don Edwards also has a cautionary tale: what happened to the cowboy is happening to America. The album turns decidedly westward with Ed Bruce and Ron Peterson's "The Last Cowboy Song" in which "another piece of America is lost." The edge is razor sharp in Edwards' spoken word delivery of his own "The Devil's Hatband." Like "Hard Times," it's both a voice from the past and an urgent shout from this morning. The traditional "The Campfire Has Gone Out" returns to melancholy only to be followed by Woody Guthrie's great anthem, "This Land is Your Land." Andy Wilkinson's additional lyrics artfully bring that song home to the West.

Don Edwards comments, "I thought the times were right for a CD like this in the cowboy and Western music world." With historical reflection, outstanding vocal and instrumental performance, amidst his provocative message, there shines a light of hope. As he urges in "Hard Times": "Let the truth sing."

Find information about American and more at www.donedwardsmusic.com and at www.westernjubilee.com.

 

  Don Edwards' Heaven on Horseback (2009) includes "Masters Call," "I Saw The Light," "Amazing Grace," "The Great Speckled Bird," "Drift Along Lonely Cowboy," "A Cowboy's Prayer/Dim Narrow Trail," "Make Me No Grave," "Why ME Lord," "Pilgrim's Progress," "Cowboy's Prayer," "Wayfaring Stranger," "Rounded Up In Glory," "Angels Can Do No More," and "Strange Things Happening In The Land."  The CD is available from Don Edwards' web site, Western Jubilee, Amazon, and other outlets.

 

  Don Edwards' Moonlight and Skies (2006) has a great assortment of old songs ("St. Louis Blues," "My Blue Heaven"), obscure songs ("The Dying Cowboy of Rimrock Ranch"), and some of Don's most requested songs ("Coyotes," "That's How the Yodel Was Born"). Accompanying him on the 13 tracks are Rich O'Brien, Nancy Blake, Norman Blake, Cindy Cashdollar, Mark Abbott, Jon Chandler, Bob Boatright, Joey McKenzie, and others. Don writes in the liner notes, "I hope you folks will enjoy this record as much as we enjoyed making it. No message, no agenda, no nothin' - just playing music with some friends who just happen to be great players as well as great people whom I love and admire." The CD is available from Don Edwards' web site, Western Jubilee, Amazon, and other outlets.

Includes:

 1.  My Blue Heaven
 2.  St Louis Blues
 3.  Land of My Boyhood Dreams
 4.  Boots and Saddle
 5.  That's How the Yodel Was Born
 6.  Moonlight and Skies
 7.  Ragged But Right
 8.  The Long Trail
 9.  Coyotes
10   Dusty Skies
11.  Goodbye Old Pal
12.  Can't Shake the Sands of Texas From My Shoes
13.  The Dying Cowboy of Rimrock Ranch

 

  Don Edwards' "Chant of the Night Songs" from Saddle Songs II  Last of the Troubadours received the 2004 Wrangler Award  from the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum for Outstanding Original Western CompositionSaddle Songs II  Last of the Troubadours has two discs, a total 34 tracks of old and new songs:

Disc 1:
 1. Gone to Texas  by Don Edwards
 2. The Habit  by Barton Bradley with additional lyrics by Don Edwards
 3. For Them That Lean to Lonesome  Don Hedgdpeth
 4. The Colorado Trail  traditional
 5. Night Rider's Lament  by Michael Burton
 6. By The Silvery Rio Grande  traditional
 7. Diamond Joe  traditional
 8. The Old Cowboy  traditional
 9. Barbara Allen   traditional
10. Make Me A Cowboy Again For A Day  traditional
11. The Sierry Petes by Gail Gardner
12. The Mormon Cowboy  traditional    
13. Fort Worth Jail   by Dick Reinhart      
14. Red River Valley   traditional     
15. Green Grow The Laurel  traditional      
16. When the Work's All Done This Fall by D. J. O'Malley       

Disc 2:       
 1. Saddle Tramp   by Curley Fletcher
 2. Lonely Wanderer   traditional     
 3. Following The Cow Trail   traditional
 4. Chant of the Night Songs  by Don Edwards       
 5. West of the Round Corral  by Paul Zarzyski and Don Edwards       
 6. Windy Bill   traditional     
 7. Cowhand's Last Ride by Jimmie Rogers        
 8. The Cowboy's Home Sweet Home  traditional       
 9. Utah Carroll   traditional      
10. Root Hog Or Die  traditional       
11. The Rancher Feeds Us All   traditional      
12. I Wanted to Die In The Desert   traditional      
13. The Dying Cowboy of Rimrock Ranch  traditional       
14. The Campfire Has Gone Out   traditional     
15. Cowboy's Meditation   traditional    
16. Here's Looking At You  by Joel Nelson       

See more about the CD at Don Edwards' web site.

 

highlonesomede.jpg (30263 bytes)   High Lonesome Cowboy was nominated for a Grammy Award. See more about High Lonesome Cowboy, other recordings, and more at Don Edwards' web site.  There's praise and more about the nomination at his agent's site and you can see the listing of the 45th Annual Grammy nominations right here (the nomination is for Field 14 - Folk; Category 66; Best Traditional Folk Album, Vocal or Instrumental).  Tracks include: "Take Me Back to the Range," "The Old Chisholm Trail," "Ramblin' Cowboy," "Reno Blues," "The Old Grey Mare Came Tearing Our of the Wilderness," "Trail to Mexico," "The Night Guard," "Buddies in the Saddle," "Goodbye Old Paint," "Midnight on the Stormy Deep," and "I'm Going to Leave Texas Now." You can listen to parts of some of the tracks here at Amazon.

 

  The Best of Don Edwards
Featuring "The Habit", "Going Back to Texas" and "Coyotes" ...



  Songs Of The Trail
Featuring "Cattle Call", "The Cowboy's Song" and "Diamond Joe" ...
 


Chant of the Wanderer
Featuring "Ragged but Right", "Gal From Abilene" and "You Don't Know What Lonesome Is" ...



 The Bard And The Balladeer
Live from Cowtown, starring Don Edwards and Waddie Mitchell, featuring "Yuppies In The Sky"  and "Desert Pete" ...



  Goin' Back to Texas
Featuring "Prairie Lullabye", "Lonely Cowboy" and "Texas Sand" ...



  West Of Yesterday
Featuring "Jim, I Wore A Tie", "Run Along, Little Dogies" and "Texas Plains"



  Saddle Songs
Thirty two classic songs including "Chopo", "Ridin' " and "Night Herding Song".



  My Hero Gene Autry
Don's tribute to a childhood hero.



Click for Amazon  Horse Whisperer
Featuring "Cowboy Love Song", "A Soft Place to Fall" and "Red River Valley" ...

And more ...

Christmas In The West
Featuring "Everyday Is Christmas In The West", "White Christmas" ...

Desert Nights & Cowtown Blues
Featuring "Mexican Rose", "Dogone Cowboy", and "Navajo Trail"...

A Pair To Draw To
Featuring Don Edwards and Rex Allen

A Prairie Portrait
Featuring Don Edwards and Waddie Mitchell with the Ft. Worth Symphony

Kin to the Wind
Don Edwards' tribute to Marty Robbins

See Don Edward's STORE at his web site for his book and recordings. 

 

Don's Performance Schedule

Don Edwards'schedule is posted on his site, and there's another listing on his agent's site.

 

Contact Information


Photo: Donald Kallaus

Don Edwards has a great web site with photos, information, sound clips, and more. 

 

For Booking & Information contact:

     Scott O'Malley & Associates, llc
     P.O. Box 9188
     Colorado Springs, CO  80932
     Phone: 719-635-7776; Fax:  719-635-9789; E-Mail:  somagency@aol.com;
     http://www.somagency.com

 

 

 

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