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Peter LaFarge - The Cowboy's Lament

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Published on Jun 3, 2011

This old ballad is the first cousin of the St. James Infirmary Blues. In its own way it holds the same position in relationship to the cowboy songs that St. James does to blues. Sad, touching and tough it reflects the true romanticism of the boys who ride the horses. Without being a blues it has all the punch and cyclone bitter hurt of a rough profession. All cowboy songs are done to one gait or another of a horse. As you can feel the ship and the sea in sailor ballads, here you can feel the horse.


As I walked out in the streets of Laredo,
I walked out in Laredo one day,
I spied a young cowboy all wrapped in white linen,
Wrapped in bright linen and cold as the clay.

"I see by your outfit that you are a cowboy",
These words he did say as I boldly stepped by,
"Come sit down beside me and hear my sad story,
Got shot in the breast and I know I must die."

"It was once in the saddle I used to go dashing,
Once in the saddle I used to go gay,
Well, I first took to drinkin' and then to card- playin',
Got shot in the breast and I'm dyin' today.

"Get sixteen cowboys to carry my coffin,
Seven pretty ladies to sing me a song,
Put a good bronc tiger on board of my coffin,
Raise hell as you carry me along.

"Put the red, red roses all over my coffin,
Put the red, red roses all over my pall,
Put the red. red roses all over my coffin,
Roses to deaden the clods as they fall.

"Go get me a cup, a cup of cold water,
To cool my parched lips," the cowboy then said,
Before I'd returned his soul had departed,
He'd gone to the roundup; the cowboy was dead.l

We played the fife lowly, we beat the drum slowly,
Played the dead march as we carried him along,
For we all loved that cowboy, so brave, young and handsome,
We all loved our comrade although he'd done wrong.

  • Category

  • Song

  • Artist

    • Peter La Farge
  • Album

    • Peter La Farge Sings of the Cowboys: Cowboy, Ranch and Rodeo Songs, and Cattle Calls
  • Licensed to YouTube by

    • The Orchard Music (on behalf of Folkways Records); BMI - Broadcast Music Inc.

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