Cisco Houston Web Site


Cowboy Ballads

Folkways LP # FA 2022 (and Folkways 22)


This early LP includes some of Cisco's best cowboy performances, with lengthy notes by J.D. Robb. See the complete notes here.

Folkways LPs were released under two numbers. This 10" LP was later released on a 12" version with the 900 Miles and other R.R. Songs. It is now available from the Smithsonian on non-professional CD teamed attractively with the same 900 Miles.

Track Listing:

Side 1
  1. The Chisolm Trail
  2. Diamond Joe
  3. I Ride an Old Paint
  4. Little Joe the Wrangler
  5. Dying Cowboy
Side 2
  1. Stewball
  2. Trouble In Mind
  3. Sweet Betsy from Pike
  4. Tying a Knot in the Devil's Tail


Jim Clark

Many of these titles are on other compilations, but in quite different performances. Listening to a younger, less vibrant and somewhat tentative Cisco from 1952 is a relevation. He has not been the center of attention much, but was more often Woody's backup musician and vocalist. At this early date, on center stage, he is a comparatively timid. Yet the singing is straightforward and delightful, the playing perfectly suited to the lyrics.

Many of these songs are new to me, and I loved them on first listen. Cisco's voice is a bit rougher, less tenor, more cowboy. It sounds as if he has sung these on the trail; the smoke of a campfire and the prickle of the cholla resonates through these songs.

And one that certainly should have appeared on the Folkways Best of CD year is the final cut "Tying a Knot in the Devil's Tail", an effective combination of whimsy and wit that sounds wonderful every time I listen. It is the perfect conclusion to a charming LP.

Lookee Here!

The French released this on an LP together with the complete Railroad Songs LP, and, apparently these entire notes crammed on the back. Impressive! No idea how big American folks ongs were (are?) in France, but I can't imagine it was a big seller. That it exists at all is pretty interesting.


To see the complete notes from the Cowboy Ballads LP, click here.

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