Blood on the Saddle
DESCRIPTION: "There was blood on the saddle And blood all around, And a great big puddle Of blood on the ground. The cowboy lay in it All covered with gore, And he won't go riding no broncos no more.... For his bronco fell on him and mashed in his head."
EARLIEST DATE: 1905
KEYWORDS: cowboy injury death horse
FOUND IN: Canada(West) US(MW)
REFERENCES (8 citations):
Fowke/Johnston, p. 101, "Blood on the Saddle" (1 text, 1 tune)
Gardner/Chickering 101, "Blood" (1 text, 1 tune)
Fife-Cowboy/West 38, "Blood on the Saddle" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Tinsley, pp. 72-75, "Blood on the Saddle" (1 text, 1 tune)
Coleman/Bregman, pp. 36-37, "Blood on the Saddle" (1 text, 1 tune)
Darling-NAS, pp. 331-332, "Blood on the Saddle" (1 text)
Silber-FSWB, p. 106, "Blood On The Saddle" (1 text)
Harry Jackson, "Blood on the Saddle" (on HJackson1)
NOTES: The Fifes trace this piece back to something called "Halbert the Grim" (published by Motherwell in 1827). The melody is said to be the same, and both involve vast quantities of blood. There has been a lot of evolution along the way, though; I would not consider the two related if it weren't for the melody.
Jim Bob Tinsley has it go back even earlier: One of the goriest of all cowboy songs can be traced indirectly back to a description of Hades written during the Middle Ages. In the first half of the thirteenth century, Matthew Paris, English historian and a monk at the monastery of St. Albans, wrote a highly graphic description of the abode of Pluto, ruler of infernal regions in classical mythology. These grim passages inspired the ancient Sotttish ballad 'Halbert the Grim....'"
The version we usually hear focusses solely on the blood, but the Gardner/Chickering text gives a brief biography of the cowboy and talks of his sweetheart who has lost her love. The common version seems to owe a lot to pop cowboy recordings; see the notes in Tinsley. - RBW
Last updated in version 3.2
Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography
The Ballad Index Copyright 2016 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.