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About Sam Agins
Poems
Book and Recordings
Further Information

Special thanks to Joe Agins, son of Sam Agins and to Cowboy Miner Productions for their help with this feature.

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About Sam Agins

From Rambler's Notebook:

Best known as a cowboy folksinger and poet, Singin' Sam Agins dedicated his life to the preservation of the songs, stories, humor, poetry, and crafts that define the cowboy and the American West.

He was born in Denver, Colorado on June 4, 1919, and died in Sun City, Arizona on March 28, 1996.  Sam's interest in cowboys started when he was just a boy, however his beginnings were a bit different then most.  Some might say Mother Nature dealt Sam a dirty deal as he was born without the use of his legs, but Sam never let his handicap slow him down!  He accomplished more than most do with two good legs and Sam got even with Mother Nature by showing others that life is a grand and worthwhile adventure!

Though he spent the first ten years of his life on his back, he planned for the day when he could greet opportunity with open arms.  It finally came when the family moved to Corona, California.

Sam's father pursued the occupation of buyer and seller of anything of value while Sam made friends with local Mexican orange pickers and cowboys.  His Mexican friends taught him to braid leather ropes and the cowboys taught him to ride and throw a lariat. A passerby who left a guitar as security for a tire he got from Sam's father unwittingly launched Sam's musical career. When the pledge wasn't redeemed Sam begged his father for the guitar and then induced his Mexican and cowboy friends to show him how to get music out of it.  He soon found that he could draw a crowd and make new friends with the tunes and the few songs he knew.  While Sam learned to play that old guitar he also learned the art of tooling leather. Many a neighbor complained to the city health authorities that young Sam maligned the civic air with freshly curing hides.

As boys will, Sam eventually attained manhood.  His folks offered him a place in the business and a permanent home, but Sam would have none of it. In 1940, he struck out for Mira Loma where he found a job in the quartermaster depot. He was a member of the civilian police and handled the main gate. Then came an opportunity to train for the exacting work of an
aircraft instruments mechanic. Sam passed the course and went on to work as a civil service employee of the army air service command.  About this time he heard the song, "Don't Fence Me In."  Somehow it struck a sympathetic note.  "I just couldn't see myself chained to a bench," Sam thought, so he pulled up stakes and went to Arizona.

                                                                                                                                             continued below...

Poems

Star Boarder

Dude Roundup

Rancher's Widow

 

Star Boarder

This one was written when I was eleven years old.  It has the sentiment that only a young boy or girl can have for horses.  It is among my earliest attempts at writing.  It deserves a place in this book because it was the first piece I had ever had published.  Ma Hopkins of the old Hoofs and Horns Magazine gave me that first thrill and encouragement of seeing something that I had written in print. Horsemen of the present will look with
nostalgia at "forty-dollar hay."



Star Border

There he is, eatin' forty-dollar hay.
      Could be getting' thirty a month for his stall.
Gave ninety bucks to the veterinary.
      He'll never be worth nothin' at all.

They was gonna shoot him.
      "No chance of his gettin' well."
But me, feelin' sorry for the poor little cuss,
      Carried him home thinkin', "You never can tell."

Nobody at all would say I was mean,
      If I'd put a slug through his head.
Maybe they'd be right sayin',
      "Poor little thing is better off dead."

But, who am I, to put an end to his life?
      Even if I had the guts to pull the trigger.
He'll be in my stall as long as he breathes.
      That's the way us Horsemen figger.

© Sam Agins, from Rambler's Notebook, Cowboy Miner Productions
  This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without written permission.

 

Dude Roundup


Oh, give me a horse that I can ride,
      A Western bronc let me bestride.
A horse with a flowing mane and tail
      To blow as I gallop the prairie trail.

Oh, give me some spurs with a Cowboy quirt.
      A ten-gallon hat with a purple shirt,
Some fancy boots and some Levis, too,
      A prairie moon and a gal to woo.

Oh, give me a campfire burning bright,
      The low of the cattle in the night,
The strum of a guitar beneath the moon,
      The plaintive wail of a Cowboy tune.

Oh, give me a bubbling coffee pot,
      The smell of bacon, sizzling hot,
The feeling you get when you first hit the trail,
      Thinkin' you have the world by the tail.

Oh, let me ride over the ridge, where the ranch house lies,
      Get away from this horse, the dust and the flies,
After a day in the saddle spent,
      Give me a bottle of liniment.

© Sam Agins, from Rambler's Notebook, Cowboy Miner Productions
 This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without written permission.

 



Rancher's Widow

I knew this lady and her husband.  I was in a position to know quite a bit about their lives.  When he died, I felt empathy for her. From out of my thoughts about the situation came this poem. It's a story often repeated
in the lives of ranch folk.


Rancher's Widow

"There isn't any doubt about it, the ranch must be sold.
      Charlie's gone, the children are grown, and I am old.
Ranching don't pay; the taxes are too high.
      These Dudes have made values soar to the sky."

"They say it's not too bad, the mortgage can be paid
      Those debts Charlie wished he never had made.
And Mary's kids will never want, but, I'll be damned,
      I'll see to it, they'll have to learn to turn a hand.

"Just like me and Charlie did some fifty years ago
      When rocks and sagebrush was all that would grow.
You want your kids to have more, maybe struggle less.
      It's not good when Trust Officers say, 'yes, yes.'

 "Those years that are left, I'll have all I'll ever need.
      Condos, Cadillacs and ... but, I remember the seed
Needed one Spring.  I sold my Silver.  Charlie sold Old Blue.
      We was livin' this life together; there was one thing to do.

 "All this legal gibberish, I understand only about a third.
      To save paying taxes, I have to deed land to the birds.
My money must be sheltered, managed and loop holes found.
      Seems I'd be better in a coffee can in the ground.

"They're payin' me what seemed once like a hell of a price.
      The kids and I know down deep, the price is nice
How can value be put on sunlight comin' through a window
      Or the bird bath covered with winter's first little snow?

"There's golf balls a waitin', a Cadillac in the garage;
      Credit cards galore, Travel Agents, and Swedish Massage!
The Past was Then, but the Time is Now.
      And for the Future, all I can say is, 'WOW!'"

© Sam Agins, from Rambler's Notebook, Cowboy Miner Productions
  This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without written permission.

 

Books and Recordings

Rambler's Notebook

Rambler's Notebook, 50 Years of Scribblin', Cowboy Poetry and More by Singin' Sam Agins, published by Cowboy Miner Productions, available late December, 2004

See the official Sam Agins web site for details.

More about Cowboy Miner Productions

Cowboy Miner Productions publishes award-winning classic Cowboy and mining poetry, contemporary Cowboy Poetry, Arizona history, and more.  

Visit the Cowboy Miner web site for complete information. Our features on classic Cowboy Poets Bruce Kiskaddon, Henry Herbert Knibbs, and D. J. O'Malley are based on their books, made possible by their kind cooperation.  We're pleased to have the poetry of many of the contemporary poets they've published: Chris Isaacs, the late Larry McWhorter, the late Sunny Hancock, Linda Kirkpatrick,  Dee Strickland Johnson, Carole Jarvis, and Jane Morton.

 

Click for Cowboy Miner Productions  Click for Cowboy Miner  Click for Cowboy Miner    

 

Mason Coggin  1938-2000
See a tribute to Mason Coggin here.



Three Dimes and a Button

The Utah State University Special Collections and Archives Library in Logan Utahis working in partnership with the Agins family to complete the publication of his autobiography Three Dimes and a Button

 


Back in the Saddle Again

A 1983 recording with: Sam Agins; Jules Verne Allen; Rex Allen; The Arizona Wranglers; Gene Autry; Wilf Carter; Slim Critchlow; Chris LeDoux; Girls of the Golden West; Van Holyoak; Harry Jackson; Ken Maynard; Mac McClintock; Patsy Montana; Glenn Ohrlin; Tex Owens; Powder River Jack and Kitty Lee; John G. Prude; Glen Rice and His Beverly Hill Billies; Riders in the Sky; Tex Ritter; Jimmie Rodgers; Sons of the Pioneers; Carl T. Sprague; Texas Ruby; John White; Marc Williams; Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys; and others

From the New World Records site (where you can read the interesting liner notes and order):

This double-CD set is the definitive historical cowboy and western music anthology. The recordings herein date from 1925 (Carl T. Sprague’s best-selling “When the Work’s All Done This Fall”) to 1980 (“Cowboy Song” by Riders in the Sky). The twenty-six other tracks on this collection fill in the gaps in between.

If it’s classic recordings by the well-known western artists that you want, they’re here: Tex Ritter's “A-Ridin' Old Paint,” Patsy Montana’s million selling “I Want To Be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart,” “My Dear Old Arizona Home” by Rex Allen, and, of course, Gene Autry’s “Back in the Saddle Again.” The Texas Playboys are represented by “Cowboy Stomp,” while the Sons of the Pioneers’ 1940 Orthoacoustic transcription of “One More Ride” appears on this album. There are a lot of great songs by lesser-known figures, too; Haywire Mac’s rousing “The Old Chisholm Trail,” Marc William’s moody “Sioux Indians,” Tex Owens’ “Cattle Call,” and Wilf Carter’s “Little Old Log Shack I Always Call My Own” are all cowboy classics.

This collection was produced by Charlie Seemann of the Country Music Foundation, and comes with a 24-page booklet with extensive notes concerning the recordings, and a beautiful C.M. Russell painting on the cover. If you have any interest in hearing some great old cowboy songs and recordings, don’t pass this one up. —Cowboy Magazine


Singin' Sam's Saddlebag of Songs

saddlebag album cover fixed and shrunk.png

 

Produced by Haywire Record Co. in the early1970's, this recording is now available on CD. See the Sam Agins web site for more information.

Includes:

Introduction
Little Joe The Wrangler
Old Chisolm Trail  
Sirree Peaks  
City Boarders   
Punchin' the Dough  
10,000 Years Ago  
Hairtrigger Newt  
Rawhide Rope  
Jake and Rony  
Strawberry Roan
Plink Plunk  
Red River Valley


Singin' Sam & Friends

 

Produced by Haywire Record Co. in the mid 1970's, this recording is now available on CD. See the Sam Agins web site for more information and to listen to the song "Red Elk."


Sam Agins accompanied by friends - Len Bacon, Jim Hawkins, Sunny Joe
Wolverton and Kirk Opyt

Philadelphia Lawyer
  Peon Named Pancho
  Had But Fifty Cents 
Dearly Beloved
Good Old Mountain Dew
Silver Haired Daddy
Cowboy Nick
South Coast
Goin' Back
Iron Pants Pete
Cat Came Back
Red Elk

Further Information

 

   Visit the web site devoted to Sam Agins, created by his son Joe.  It includes information about his writing and recordings, poetry, sample tracks, photos, personal history, an article about Sam's jewelry, an excellent selection of links of Western interest, order information, and more.

 

  Many of Sam Agins' photographs, articles, recordings, interviews, memorabilia, song collections, albums and personal effects are currently housed and preserved at The Utah State University Special Collections and Archives Library in Logan Utah.  The university is working in partnership with the Agins family to complete the publication of his autobiography Three Dimes and a Button

 

  Sam Agins' family has established the Singin' Sam Agins Scholarship at the Western Folklife Center in his memory.  Singin' Sam wrote his first cowboy poem around age 11 and spent the rest of his life preserving and promoting the ways of the West.  This new scholarship will help bring a young poet or musician to the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering each year.

 

About Sam Agins continued from above

From Rambler's Notebook:

Best known as a cowboy folksinger and poet, Singin' Sam Agins dedicated his life to the preservation of the songs, stories, humor, poetry, and crafts that define the cowboy and the American West.

He was born in Denver, Colorado on June 4, 1919, and died in Sun City, Arizona on March 28, 1996.  Sam's interest in cowboys started when he was just a boy, however his beginnings were a bit different then most.  Some might say Mother Nature dealt Sam a dirty deal as he was born without the use of his legs, but Sam never let his handicap slow him down!  He accomplished more than most do with two good legs and Sam got even with Mother Nature by showing others that life is a grand and worthwhile adventure!

Though he spent the first ten years of his life on his back, he planned for the day when he could greet opportunity with open arms.  It finally came when the family moved to Corona, California.

Sam's father pursued the occupation of buyer and seller of anything of value while Sam made friends with local Mexican orange pickers and cowboys.  His Mexican friends taught him to braid leather ropes and the cowboys taught him to ride and throw a lariat. A passerby who left a guitar as security for a tire he got from Sam's father unwittingly launched Sam's musical career. When the pledge wasn't redeemed Sam begged his father for the guitar and then induced his Mexican and cowboy friends to show him how to get music out of it.  He soon found that he could draw a crowd and make new friends with the tunes and the few songs he knew.  While Sam learned to play that old guitar he also learned the art of tooling leather. Many a neighbor complained to the city health authorities that young Sam maligned the civic air with freshly curing hides.

As boys will, Sam eventually attained manhood.  His folks offered him a place in the business and a permanent home, but Sam would have none of it. In 1940, he struck out for Mira Loma where he found a job in the quartermaster depot. He was a member of the civilian police and handled the main gate. Then came an opportunity to train for the exacting work of an
aircraft instruments mechanic. Sam passed the course and went on to work as a civil service employee of the army air service command.  About this time he heard the song, "Don't Fence Me In."  Somehow it struck a sympathetic note.  "I just couldn't see myself chained to a bench," Sam thought, so he pulled up stakes and went to Arizona.

In Tucson, Sam sang his way into an arrangement to open a leather shop at the fashionable El Conquistador Hotel.  He entertained nightly and soon his belts and hand-tooled silver buckles were girdling dudes who hailed from
every corner of the United States.

Sam enjoyed his successful business in Tucson playing music and selling his jewelry, but he couldn't stay put.  He soon began to travel the dude ranch circuits of Arizona and throughout the Rocky Mountain West in a large box truck that he outfitted with a leather and jewelry shop, recording studio including sleeping and cooking facilities.  "I got tired of bein' fenced in," he explained to a reporter one day, "and besides, this way I have no rent to pay."  Sam pretty much spent the rest of his life on the road.

In exchange for the lease for his concessions, Sam entertained the guests at dude ranches in Tucson during the winter and the ranches in Colorado, Wyoming and Montana in the summer.

Singin' Sam did not limit his entertainment talent to Dude Ranches. During the 1940's and 1950's as an Ambassador for Goodwill Industries, he entertained disabled youth, veterans and children in hospitals. Later he entertained and educated prisoners in New Mexico, University and college students throughout the West, and eventually visitors to the Smithsonian
Institution's Festival of American Folk Life, where he was twice asked to participate as a jewelry craftsman, folksinger and as an expert on early American folk songs.

Singin' Sam Agins wrote many songs, collected and recorded the songs that others wrote, and even established his own recording company, Haywire, in the 1970's.  He put out two record albums,
Singin' Sam's Saddlebag of Songs and Singin' Sam and Friends.  His song "City Boarders" appears on the popular compilation, Back in the Saddle Again from New World Records, which includes songs from such other greats as Gene Autry, Rex Allen, Glenn Ohrlin, Tex Ritter, Sons of the Pioneers, Bob Wills, Patsy Montana and many more.  His other writing includes an autobiography, Three Dimes and a Button, several plays, poems, magazine articles, news columns, a book of poetry entitled Ramblers Notebook and a photographic essay entitled "Round Legs."

"More than anything else," Sam told an interviewer when he was only 30, "I want to show by example that 'handicapped' doesn't have to mean 'helpless.' I want folks in beds and wheelchairs to realize that many of them can get out and make their own way."

Throughout the 70's, 80's and early 90's, Sam participated in numerous other festivals and events including the Festival of the American West, the Cowboy Poetry gathering in Elko Nevada and the Western Writer's Conferences held in Logan, Utah.  The Sam Agins Collection is currently housed and preserved in The Utah State University Special Collections and Archives Library.

Singin' Sam wrote his first cowboy poem at age 11 and  dedicated the rest of his life to preserving and promoting the ways of the West. The Singin' Sam Agins Scholarship Fund was created to continue his legacy by providing assistance to youth who wish to carry on such an important tradition of Cowboy Poetry.  Children are the future of Cowboy Poetry and hopefully this scholarship will help in the cultivation of interest among the youth.

After logging well over a million miles, by horseback, burro, pickup truck, and a varied assortment of automobiles, entertaining people and collecting material along the way, Singin' Sam Agins could truly feel the pulse of real Western Americana music and culture.

An inspiration for all who came in contact with him, Singin' Sam's life was truly an amazing and inspirational one!

                                                                                                      From Rambler's Notebook

 

Special thanks to Joe Agins, son of Sam Agins, and to Cowboy Miner Productions for their help with this feature.

 

 

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