In an interview at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko in 2001, Waddie was asked—in light of
Find links for these recordings and others below.
Story With a Moral
Now I know there's things worse that make cowpunchers curse,
And I reckon it's happened to us all.
Though it's years since, you bet, when I think of it yet,
It still makes my old innards crawl.
I was makin' a ride to bring in one hide
That hadn't showed up in the gather;
I was riding upstream, daydreamin' a dream,
When I caught there was somethin' the matter.
Near some quakin' asp trees, I had caught in the breeze
A stench that was raunchy and mean,
And I reckoned as how it might be the old cow,
So I rode to a bend in the stream.
Shore 'nuff that cow lied in the crick there and died;
Hard tellin' how long she'd been been there.
She was bloated and tight, twas a horrible sight—
She was oozin' and slippin' her hair.
Her eye sockets were alive with maggots that thrive
On dead flesh, putrid yellow and green,
And the hot sun burnin' down, turnin' pink things to brown,
Spewin' oily gunk in the stream.
Well, I spurred upwind fast to get away from the blast
Of the heavy stench the cow made;
And I felt bad seein's how I'd lost the old cow,
And I pulled up near a tree in the shade.
Then I got sick to the core, rememberin' just minutes before
I'd done something that made me feel worse;
Not thirty yards down I'd stepped off to the ground
And drank 'til my belly near burst.
For months after it, just the thought made me spit,
And I'd live it over like a bad dream.
And the moral, I think, is if you must take a drink,
Never, ever remount and ride upstream.
© Waddie Mitchell, reprinted with permission
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.
See Waddie Mitchell's Recipe for a Cowboy Poet about our honored guest Chris Isaacs, here at the BAR-D.
Waddie's Official Biography continued
"When my imagination first got let out of the gate, it was from an old-time cowboy, with a story set to rhyme," he says in his second recording from Warner Western, "Lone Driftin' Rider." By the age of 10, he was reciting poetry himself; at 16, he quit school to follow his heart and went to making his living as a cowboy.
"I'd never done anything else, never made money without horses or cows until I started telling cowboy poetry." The father of five children, ("They're all girls, except four of them!") his goal is to one day buy his own ranch. "I'm hoping," Waddie says, "for the opportunity to go broke on a ranch by myself instead of helping somebody else do it!"
There came a time though, which he relates in his poem "Where To Go," when he had to choose between being a full-time cowboy (he managed a 36,000 acre ranch in Lee-Jiggs, Nevada) and the art form that he loved so much. In 1984, he helped organize the now internationally recognized Elko Cowboy Poetry Gathering and gave his first public performance.
Although Waddle didn't think anyone would be interested (he thought it would be a pretty good party for the weekend), the first Cowboy Poetry Gathering was set for a cold, snowy weekend in January. This was one of the only times Waddle and his fellow cowboys had free from ranch duties. More than 2,000 people showed up, and Waddle was off and running.
Since then he has performed internationally for audiences from Los Angeles to New York, Zurich to Melbourne, and all points in between, with television appearances ranging from The Tonight Show (his neighbor took the first phoned invitation, drove 40 miles to deliver the message to the remotely based Waddie and returned with a "No Thanks" because it was calving time and he'd never heard of Johnny Carson), Larry King Live, Good Morning America, TNN, The History Channel, PBS, plus CMT. Waddie has also been featured in People, Life, USA Today, Fortune and National Geographic, along with numerous other appearances, performances, articles and books.
Waddie Mitchell's widely successful writing endeavors includes his book "Waddie's Whole Load," a wonderful compilation of his rhyming stories, artfully complemented with his charming drawings. Waddie is winning deeper appreciation of his art as well as international recognition. His series of recordings for Warner Bros. Records' subsidiary label Warner Western and more recently for the Western Jubilee Recording Company have received critical acclaim.
His 1998 release, "Waddie Mitchell Live" for Western Jubilee Recording Company features Don Edwards as well as world class multi-instrumentalists Rich O'Brien and Norman Blake. A glowing review of "Waddie Mitchell Live" appeared in People Magazine, which concludes with "Bottom Line: Horse sense and humor from America's Best Known Cowboy Poet." His busy 1999 touring schedule included the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. The excitement created by these concerts resulted in a Western Jubilee recording of Waddie, Don Edwards and the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra titled A Prairie Portrait. This recording has spawned additional performances with Don Edwards and the orchestras of Colorado Springs, Denver and Phoenix. At the end of 1999, the Reno Gazette-Journal published a list from a panel of writers, historians and other notables, who selected the Top 20 Artists, Authors and Entertainers To Influence Nevada in the 20th Century. Sure enough pards, there was Waddie!
"We didn't have electricity and that meant we didn't have T.V. We had darn poor radio too. So that meant we did the strangest things at night ... we talked to each other!"
For Booking & Information contact:
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and for Recordings contact:
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Waddie's Performance Schedule
If you get a chance to see Waddie perform, take it! Here's his schedule.
Some of Waddie's Recordings
From Western Jubilee:
That No Quit Attitude
Waddie Mitchell Live
Elko! A Cowboy's Gathering (See our review here.)
A Prairie Portrait; the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra performing with Don Edwards and Waddie Mitchell.
Waddie Mitchell's Christmas Poems
Waddie's Whole Load
The Bard and the Balladeer, with Don Edwards
Lone Driftin' Rider
Cowboy's Night Before Christmas
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