The Songs He Sang
Buffalo Skinners: Lyrics
As performed by Cisco Houston
Woody GuthrieAppears on:
Come all you old time cowboys And listen to my song Please do not grow weary I'll not detain you long Concerning some wild cowboys Who did agree to go And spend the summer pleasant On the range of the buffalo Well I found myself in Griffin In eighteen eighty-three When a well-known famous drover Come a'walkin' up to me Sayin "How do you do young feller And how'd you like to go And spend a summer pleasant On the trail of the buffalo?" Well me being out of work right then To that drover I did say "This goin' out on the buffalo road Depends upon your pay If you pay good wages Transportation to and fro Well I think I might go with you On the range of the buffalo" Yes I will pay good wages And transportation too If you'll agree to work for me Until the season's through But if you do grow homesick And try and run away You'll starve to death out on the trail And you'll also lose your pay Well with all this flatterin' talkin' He signed up quite a train Some ten or twelve in number All able bodied men Our trip it was a pleasant one As we hit the Westward Row Until we struck ol' Boggy Creek In old New Mexico Well, here our pleasures ended And our troubles all begun When a lightnin' storm come up on us And it made the cattle run We got full of the stickers From the cactus that did grow And the outlaws waiting to pick us off In old New Mexico Well the working season ended But the drover would not pay He said "You went and drunk too much You're all in debt to me" But the cowboys never had heard Of such a thing as a bankrupt law So we left the drover's bones to bleach On the range of the buffalo
Notes from the Folk Song & Minstrelsy Set
To reduce the number of buffalo on the Western Plains, the U.S. government offered a cash bounty on buffalo hides. This encouraged hunting so much that within a few decades the animals were almost extinct. Hunters would skin the carcasses, ship the hides to the East and leave the rest of the large animals to the buzzards. This ballad tells about some cowboys who went out to hunt buffalo, and how they dealt with their boss when he refused to pay them. It is patterned after the lumber industry song, "Canaday-I-O."