Story behind the songs- Cowhand and Revel

You get a twofer on this one. Both if these are made from poems a friend of mine wrote. Ken Cook, a good feller and a whale of a poet and performer..

About 5 or 6 years ago, Ken called one day and had a new poem he wanted to try out on me. We do this amongst ourselves. We all have good friends who will tell us honestly what they think, give good instructive but kind criticisms to help us out with one we are stuck on or wondering about. Ken is one who is great about doing this for me and occasionally will ask me about one of his.

Anyway… he called and recited Cowhand ( I think, it might have been Revel, I don’t remember which was first, at the moment) for me. I told him I really liked it and thought it would make a whale of a song. He told me to take it and make it into one. I told him that I didn’t think I had the ability, but he talked me into trying it. Chance is pretty handy with a guitar and also had written a few songs so I thought between us we might come up with something. Nothing ever really worked or jelled, so I let it set. A couple of springs ago, I decided that for Lent, I would not just give something up, but also do something to try and improve myself, so decided to play my guitar every day and maybe get better at it. I found some lessons on Youtube, a guy named Marty Schwartz… he’s really good and I picked up quite a bit of licks and idea’s. He showed one chord progression I had never thought of or heard. While playing these chords, I got to thinking they might make a cool song as I didn’t think it was anything I had heard any cowboy singers us…. I ( I was wrong, of course, Daron Little uses this same pattern and style on q1uite a few of his songs)

I thought of Ken’s poem and tried it out and did some changing and pretty soon I thought it sounded pretty cool. So I called Ken, told him to listen, put the phone where I could somewhat sing and play the guitar in it for him to hear. When I was done I asked what he thought and he just really enjoyed the process and liked the tune so told me to get after it. I had to change a few words around to make it fit, but kept working at it and we even met at New Underwood one day when he was kind of in the area. I brought the song and my guitar and we sat out in a parking area and messed around with it.

He and his wife Nancy said they really liked it. So much so that Ken sent me another poem he had that he thought might work for a song also. That was the poem that turned into the song Revel ( or Cowhand , depending on which came first and which came later…. )

As time went on I kept working on them, singing and playing them, smoothing out my rough spots. Finally at Valentines last year I played them before a live audience and they seemed to enjoy them. Then this spring Ken called and told me he was making a book with Jay Snider and including a CD with both he and Jay reciting a few of the poems and asked if he could include a rendition of me singing these songs on it. He had some recordings, but I was afraid they would not sound good enough to suit me as they came from a live gig and sometimes that doesn’t really produce a sound I like. So I told him I had been thinking of making a CD anyway, so this was the impetus to get into the studio and record them… the rest is history… 😉

By the way, Ken and Jay Snyder did come out with a wonderful book with great art and their poems and the CD with ten poems and the song, Cowhand, on it, in the back of the book. It is called, Passing It On. If you are interested in purchasing one of their books, contact Ken at or Jay at

3 thoughts on “Story behind the songs- Cowhand and Revel

  1. Together we sure enjoyed this process over the last few years Robert. The poetry and songs are the result of good hard work. The friendship is easy. Congratulations on the album…it is one of my favorites.
    Ken and Nanc

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