Cowboys have long been a part of the American imagination. Americans have drawn on the lifeways and legends surrounding the cowboy to create powerful images of the men who settled the frontier, braved rough and lonely land, branded cattled and tamed wild horses. Stars of early radio and recording, many of whom were not cowboys by occupation, including Jimmie Rodgers, Roy Acuff, Rex Allen, Hank Williams, and Roy Rodgers, built their careers by modeling their music and performing manners upon cowboy lore. From John Wayne's role as the mysterious Ringo Kid in the 1939 western Stagecoach to the summer 2000 Clint Eastwood film Space Cowboys, this lore has been built upon the cowboy legacy. This website introduces a group of local musicians, most of who worked as ranchers, riders, guides on dude ranches and in other contexts that we conventionally associate with cowboy life. Most of these musicians received little, if any national attention, but they were loved by local audiences and the songs they created served as models for musicians receiving more general popularity and commercial success. To know the work of the men profiled here is to know a piece of the legend upon which America's identity has been built.
Follow the links in the navigation bar above audio, video, poetry, readings and teaching activities.
About the Cowboy Songs and Singers website.