Here’s our first video, for the song Spring Dance

Here’s the video for Beyond Alone

Spring Dance

This is the first track on the CD and was a song from day one. I had been out riding my two rein horse one fine spring morning and I wanted to try and translate what I felt, saw and did. Using all the senses.

While working on it, I called Chance and read him a bit and he told me, “I’ve got a line I have been saving for years that would really fit, that you can use as I will never use it, probably….” So thus came, “The rhythm of the rein chains, bouncing to the beat…” he helped me work on the next lines with suggestions and was a great sounding board.

My buddy Mike Tarrant who lives in California and is really into spade bits, rawhide reata’s and the old Californio style of riding, working stock, told me, “This song really speaks to me. Sounds so Californio, to me”.

To me, that is high praise and what I was trying to accomplish with these songs. It’s not so much about my ability to sing or play the guitar, as the story the songs tell and the mood the music gives to the story. This is still my favorite song on the whole CD. But there are some other ones running a real close second! 🙂

Beyond alone, ‘Tween My Horses Ear’s

Again, both of these songs started out as poems. Written by a neat guy named Slim McNaught ( yes Slim, you should see this skinny booger!) Slim was reciting a poem a few years ago at a gig we were doing and he had stumbled on a poem he had been doing. He made the Joke, “It’s not fair, when these singers miss a line they just yodel!” So I started strumming along behind him, quietly as he started up again. When he came to this poem I just strummed along. It had a very good meter and rhythm to it, so afterwards I asked if I could try and make a song out of it. He said yes and I worked at it off and one for a year. All of a sudden a new set of chords came to me and I really liked it. Thus came ‘Tween My Horses Ears

On Beyond, I just heard it the end of July at a gig and again asked if I could try to make a song. He was gracious enough to say yes, tho’ he was aware I might butcher his baby, so to speak!

Slim grew up on a ranch down near the Badlands and then worked on ranches for quite a few years until his family started growing and he went on to other occupations, so when he writes a poem he knows of what he speaks. He always has good meter and rhyme and also the subject matter is always dead on. For some reason, probably the way I pronounce the words he uses, I have to drop or change a word to make it flow easier and better for me, but again, he is kind enough to like what I have done. I hope to use more of his stuff in the future..

He also is a whale of a leather stamper and carver and he and his wonderful wife Darlene go to many of these poetry shows and set up a booth which Darlene man’s while Slim is performing. If you need some leather work done or are looking for some great stuff already made up, check them out at http://www.slimscustomleather.com/
Real Western Mornin’

This started out as a song. I wanted something a little faster with some snap to it, as I am inclined to sing (and love) ballads. I wanted to get across that so many mornings are a lot alike, especially at calving time. We in ranching have a routine we all fall in to. And even tho’ much of it is not really all that fun, we still enjoy it… when looking back at it!

Most cool mornings a young horse, and some older ones, will have a hump in their back and the saddle may stick up far enough in back to stick a watermelon under the back skirts! There are several ways to fix this, and I speak of one, kicking them in the belly (or other nether regions), but most people will walk them around a bit and finally just get on and take off. If you have cows calving that need checked you really don’t have all that much time to longe one around or run them around in the round pen, until they warm up a bit. Oh sure, you could get up earlier, saddle them and let them stand while you eat breakfast (something many older, more experienced cowboys who don’t seem to need as much sleep, do) but heck, who ever gets enough sleep during calving? 🙂

And for all you animal lovers, remember, there is almost nothing a man on foot can do with just his extremities, that can harm a horse even close to how much harm another horse can do to him, and that is how pecking orders are established in the horse herd (and rural schools, as I recall)….a kick in the belly really doesn’t hurt a horse so much, as it impresses on them that you are higher up in the pecking order and they must do as you ask… well… at least that is the theory…. I have known of and had horses that a kick in the belly really didn’t change their attitude much… maybe I wasn’t kicking hard enough.

I think perhaps those who do it think it does more than it actually does and thus gives them courage, much like pulling the wild hair’s out of a horses face does….as Ben Green described in one of his books. And when you step across a horse and you are relaxed and comfortable and not tight and nervous, the horse knows it. That might explain why a horses hardly ever bucks very hard when a person who could care less if they do buck, steps on.

And I have had many horses fall with me. Matter of fact I have been hurt far worse when horses fell with me than when I have been bucked off. And unless you can not physically get back on, you just cowboy up and do the work, because there is no one else to do it, most times….so even when your knee gets wrenched and hurt, and you limp when you walk, you suck it up, get on and do the work…until you can come home and whine to your wife about it, anyway… 🙂

As to the rest of the story behind the song, well.. I think it’s pretty self explanatory…. pups and pairs don’t usually get along, we don’t just drink beer and get in fights out here, as the movies like to portray us doing so much of the time, and yes, seems to me like most the people who are successful at this life, have a good spouse… sabe? 🙂

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… 😉

Calvin’ blues

Here’s a fun one! 🙂

I had been reading Facebook and a younger neighbor lady who used to live on this ranch as a small child and married a young neighbor fellow, was complaining of the snow, in March. They were calving, so I am sure it wasn’t fun.

I commented back that if she didn’t like the snow she ought to move. She replied, “I did. North!”

When I quit laughing, this got me to thinking of the fun of calving during the late winter/early spring and generally, around here, winter seems to last until at least May! I thought of the smells and wallering around thru’ mud under snow and trying to keep frozen baby calves alive. Well, you can either laugh or cry… I chose to laugh!

Many times about mid way thru’ calving season, if your talking to a neighbo, someone will invariably claim they were going to turn their bulls out later, so as to calve later the next year…. of course, none do, seems like…when you turn the bulls out later, most think you will have lighter calves, and you will to some degree, but of course, most don’t take into account the fact that later calving cows can get by on less winter feed as they have lower nutritional requirements… this is always a good thing to get an argument going… that and the smaller cow versus bigger cow deal! 🙂

So I just remembered all the pains of calving in mud and snow and the problems and cussing involved and of course, I am singing the blues so it had to have somewhat of a bluesy sound to it..there you go.

Oh, and the line, “clean yourself up and take in the town”.. well, it would seem if you turned the bulls in later, you would expect to have less work to do, so all you’d have to do it go to town and tie one on… you’d expect that… but it’s amazing all the work that still needs to be done, even if you calve later, especially if your one of them who want to make a living for the cows rather than have the cows make a living for you! 😉 Nuff said! LOL

Loveswar

Ernest Loveswar was a breed. Part Native American and the rest white. Said to be very handsome and from the few pictures I’ve seen, I can see why. He and a fellow named Ostrander were both courting the same woman. Evidently Ostrander won out or Loveswar was tired of the competition, so Loveswar rode up to the homestead claim where Ostrander was working, for a man named Puck. He said he was missing a horse and wanted Ostrander to go with him to look for the horse. The story I heard was that both Puck and Ostrander were wise to what he was trying to do and the real motive was to get Ostrander off by himself so he could beat him up or in some other way take revenge or scare him from courting the young lady. So, they just laughed and told him they had too much to do. Loveswar spent quite a bit of time with them, and in typical western fashion, he was asked to stay and eat and perhaps even spend he night. That night while Puck and Ostrander were sleeping in the claim shack, Loveswar got one of their pistols and also held his own and shot them both at the same time while standing over them.

Again, the story I heard was that one was not killed so he ran outside and grabbed the axe and came in and used it to kill the one who was still alive. I always wondered why he didn’t just shoot again, but at that time, there would have been other people living within at least a quarter mile, perhaps in every direction. So, if you woke up to what you thought were gun shots and listened and didn’t hear any more, you would more than likely think you just dreamed it. And now, I wonder if he didn’t use the axe on Ostrander out of anger over the matter at hand.

Either way, Loveswar than rode to Granny Culbertson’s, who’s son Pete had always wanted to be an Indian tho’ he had no Indian blood, but who had worked for some time and portrayed an Indian, in at least one Wild West show. Pete and Granny, had befriended many of the local Lakota people and they were evidently always welcomed.

Again, according to the story I heard, when the Sheriff came looking for Loveswar, he rode to Granny’s inquiring for Loveswar, she glanced towards the door of another room and the Sheriff walked in with gun drawn and Loveswar was in bed, reaching for his pistol on a table by the bed. Loveswar was arrested and taken to Sturgis, the county seat of Meade county. He was held for trial and eventually found guilty and sentenced to hang. It was said that one of the murder weapons used was found near a Cottonwood tree, close to the buildings at Culbertson’s.

One account I read said that he eventually became friends with the Sheriff’s wife and daughter who served him his meals and confessed to the crime and felt bad about the killing of Puck, whom he bore no hatred to, but did not feel guilty about killing Ostrander.

In this account, it was said that Loveswar had presented a twenty dollar check to be cashed, made out to him from Ostranders account and the teller or some bank clerk recognized it as a forgery. Loveswar had wanted the money so he could attend the fourth of July party near Whitewood. So the Sheriff put two and two together when he found out about the killings and went after Loveswar.

They built a high fence around the courtyard where the scaffold sat next to the courthouse in Sturgis and invitations were sent to some of the people in the area, so they could attend the hanging. Legend tells that when they hung Loveswar, the rope was old and it broke. Tho’ he was killed, he had not hung for the legal time so they had to get a new rope, re-tie the hangman’s noose and re-hang the body, to make it legal. There are a series of pictures of the hanging on the wall in Wall Drug.

Loveswar had them buy him a new suit of clothes for the hanging and told them he would be “the handsomest man they had ever hung”.

At the time of the killings, Puck had wanted my grandfather to work for him and help him with his claim, but my grandfather would not as he was too busy on his own claim and with his own work. So Puck hired Ostrander. If Grampa had worked for him, Puck would not have been killed, in all likelihood.

The land that Puck was homesteading on, passed on to a relative of the same name and is now part of the quarter-section where the Red Owl Store sets. No one knows where the claim shack sat at the time of the killing.

Wet Sortin’

Well, here we are to the last one.

This is all totally true….. 🙂 ‘Cept for the parts Ken made up to add some punch. Ken Cook got cheated on the credits of this one, as I overlooked adding him to the credits when we printed off the packaging. Sorry Ken! I had written it as a poem and took it to his place and we worked on it. He comes up with such descriptive things, like, “Sure hope my socks can swim!”

Now, we all know socks can’t swim ( must have never learned when they was little fellers!) but it does paint a great picture.

We kept going thru’ it with Ken adding suggestions. I almost left it as a poem, but decided to add a quick tune and some tell me it is the best song on the CD…

We had trailed some pairs for a neighbor this spring and we had to travel one of the main highways to the oilfields in North Dakota, so by the time we got off the highway we sure were happy. And just as I say in the song, when we got them all thru’ the gate, man oh man did it go to blowin’, rainin’ and some small hail! When it finally eased up a bit we headed them up to a knob to pair them out and then the lightning got a lot closer, the wind picked back up and our horses wouldn’t face into it, so we sat on the downstream side of the herd, horses butt’s facing the herd and allowed pairs to go between us, side passing to get out of their way or stop one that wasn’t right. Every once in awhile a cow would grab a calf and head out, but they weren’t a pair so someone would jump out in the deepening mud and bring them back. One neighbor, Lyle, mentioned that the big boss had almost got hit by lightning twice before, but hadn’t gotten hit so he wondered if we should stay away from him or ride real close! Wildest deal I’ve ever been involved in. But… it had been dry so when we headed back to the trailers we were all grinning at the moisture.

I have never gotten so wet so fast other than jumping into a big waterhole. Water ran down my legs and filled my boots to over flowing in just a matter of minutes. Some of us were shivering by the time we got back to the outfit and we still had to go get another so as to haul everyone. Recently I posted pictures of shipping some red calves. Same bunch of cattle as in the song. We sure didn’t have to worry about getting wet when we shipped them, worse the luck!

So this concludes the songs and the stories behind them. Hope you’ve enjoyed it!