Cisco Houston Web Site

The Songs He Sang

Tying A Knot In The Devil's Tail: Lyrics

As performed by Cisco Houston

Gail Gardner

Appears on:
Way high up in the Sierry Petes
Where the yellow pines grow tall,
Sandy Bob and Buster Jiggs
Had a round-up camp last fall.
They took their horses and their running irons
And maybe a dog or two,
And they 'lowed they'd brand all the long-eared calves
That came within their view.
Well many a long-eared dogie
That didn't hush up by day,
Had his long ears whittled and his old hide scorched
In a most artistic way.

Then one fine day, says Buster Jiggs,
As he throwed his seago down,
"I'm tired of cowbiography
And allows I'm a goin' to town."
They saddles up, and they hits them a lope
For it weren't no side to the ride,
And them was the days when an old cow-hand
Could oil up his old insides.

They starts her out at the Kentucky Bar,
At the head of the Whisky Row,
And they winds her up at the Depot House
Some forty drinks below.
They sets her up and turns her around
And goes her the other way,
And to tell you the Lord-forsaken truth
Them boys got drunk that day.

Well, as they was a headin' back to camp
And packin' a pretty good load
Who should they meet but the Devil himself
Come prancin' down the road?
Now the Devil he said, "You cowboy skunks
You better go hunt your hole,
'Cause I've come up from the Hell's rim rock
To gather in your souls."

Said Buster Jiggs, "Now we're just from town,"
And feelin' kinda tight;
And you ain't gonna get no cowboys' souls
Without some kind of a fight."
So he punched a hole in his old throw rope
And he slings it straight and true
And he roped the devil right around the horns
He takes his dallies true.

Old Sandy Bob was a reata man
With his rope all coiled up neat;
But he shakes her out and he builds him a loop
And he roped the Devil's hind feet.
They threw him down on the desert ground
While the irons was-a getting hot,
They cropped and swallow-forked his ears
And branded him up a lot.

And they pruned him up with a dehorning saw,
And knotted his tail for a joke,
Rode off and left him bellowing there
Necked up to a lilac-jack oak.
Well, if you ever travel in the Sierry Petes
And you hear one awful wail,
Well you know it ain't nothin but the Devil himself
Raisin' hell about the knots in his tail.


From the LP notes; we make no claim as to their authenticity, or even coherence.

Running iron
Old style branding iron
'A calf that lost its mammy and whose daddy has run off with another cow'
Slang for branded
Round-up camp
The gathering of cattle
Lash panniers on a packsaddle
To take a half-hitch around a saddle horn, Spanish: darla-vuelta
A rope made from leather, rawhide
Forked - earmark made by hollowing ear lengthwise, notched

See some definitions from the author Here.

Of note:

See Here for author info and a discussion of the authorship debate. See Here for an interview with Gail Gardner. How this was left off the Folkways CD I cannot iamgine. Nearly perfect in every way.

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