Streets of Laredo, The [Laws B1]

DESCRIPTION: (The singer meets a young cowboy "all dressed in white linen and cold as the clay.") The cowboy has been shot (or given a venereal disease?) and is dying. He regrets his carousing, gives instructions for his burial, and dies.
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1886
KEYWORDS: cowboy death lament burial dying funeral disease violence homicide
FOUND IN: US(Ap,MA,MW,NE, Ro,So,SE,SW) Canada(Mar) Ireland
REFERENCES (42 citations):
Laws B1, "The Cowboy's Lament (The Dying Cowboy)"
Flanders-NewGreen, pp. 250-252, "The Cowboy's Lament" (1 text, 1 tune)
Belden, pp. 392-397, "The Unfortunate Rake" (3 texts plus a fragment and references to 4 more versions; 1 tune, all of which are this song despite the title)
Randolph 182, "The Cowboy's Lament" (2 texts plus an excerpt, 1 tune)
AbrahamsRiddle, pp. 75-78, "Tom Sherman's Barroom" (1 text, 1 tune)
Eddy 124, "The Dying Cowboy" (3 texts, none of which refer to "The Streets of Laredo" and which might be mixed with other versions of this song)
Gardner/Chickering 100, "The Dying Cowboy" (1 short text plus mention of 1 more)
Stout 82, pp. 103-105, "The Dying Cowboy" (3 texts)
Neely, pp. 181-184, "The Dying Cowboy" (3 texts)
BrownII 263, "The Unfortunate Rake" (1 text plus 9 excerpts and mention of two others, called "The Unfortunate Rake" but apparently all this song)
BrownSchinhanIV 263, "The Unfortunate Rake" (1 excerpt, 1 tune)
Morris, #15, "The Dying Cowboy" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Moore-Southwest 148, "The Cowboy's Lament" (1 text, 1 tune)
Scarborough-SongCatcher, pp. 353-359, "The Dying Cowboy" (6 texts; 3 tunes on pp. 452-453)
Carey-MarylandFolkLegends, p. 116, 'Dying Cowboy" (1 text)
Friedman, p. 424, "The Cowboy's Lament (The Streets of Laredo)" (2 texts, the second being a lumberjack text, "The Wild Lumberjack")
PBB 111, "The Cowboy's Lament" (1 text)
Lomax-FSUSA 59, "The Streets of Laredo" (1 text, 1 tune)
Sandburg, p. 263, "As I Walked Out in the Streets of Laredo" (1 text, 1 tune)
Thorp/Fife XIII, pp. 148-190 (29-30), "Cow Boy's Lament" (22 texts, 7 tunes, though not all are really part of this piece -- the "H" text, from Minnesota, is in a Scandinavian tongue; "K" looks like it comes from the "Tarpaulin Jacket" family; "L" is "The Wild and Wicked Youth"; "M" is "Jack Combs"; "N" is "St. James Infirmary"; many of the other texts are parodys)
Fife-Cowboy/West 119, "The Streets of Laredo" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Larkin, pp. 30-31, "The Cowboy's Lament" (1 text, 1 tune, with four verses that are clearly "Streets of Laredo" but an opening that is "My Home's in Montana")
Hubbard, #164, "The Dying Cowboy" (1 short text, lacking most of the introductory material)
Tinsley, pp. 76-79, "The Cowboy's Lament" (1 text, 1 tune)
SharpAp 131, "St. James's Hospital, or The Sailor Cut Down in his Prime" (2 texts, 2 tunes, but the "A" text really belongs with "The Unfortunate Rake")
Lomax-FSNA 200, "The Dying Cowboy" (1 text, 1 tune)
Mackenzie 120, "The Dying Cowboy" (1 text)
Botkin-AmFolklr, pp. 859-860, "The Cowboy's Lament" (1 text, 1 tune)
Hodgart, p. 242, "The Dying Cowboy" (1 text)
JHCox 53, "The Dying Cowboy" (5 texts)
JHCoxIIB, #8A-B, pp. 139-142, "The Dying Cowboy" (2 fragments, 2 tunes)
PSeeger-AFB, p. 41, "The Streets Of Laredo" (1 text, 1 tune)
SHenry H680, p. 141, "The Cowboy of Loreto" (1 text, 1 tune)
LPound-ABS, 77, pp. 170-171, "The Dying Cowboy" (1 text)
Welsch, pp. 17-20, "The Cowboy's Lament" (1 text)
Cohen-AFS2, pp. 522-523, "Streets of Laredo" (1 text)
Darling-NAS, pp. 8-9, "The Cowboy's Lament" (1 text)
Silber-FSWB, p. 115, "The Streets Of Laredo" (1 text)
Saffel-CowboyP, pp. 192-193, "The Cowboy's Lament" (1 text)
DT 350, LAREDST*
ADDITIONAL:: Powder River Jack and Kitty Lee's _Songs of the Range: Cowboy Wails of Cattle Trails_, Chart Music, 1937, p. 43, "The Cowboy's Lament" (1 text, 1 tune)
Kenneth Lodewick, "'The Unfortunate Rake" and His Descendants,'" article published 1955 in _Western Folklore_; republished on pp. 87-98 of Norm Cohen, editor, _All This for a Song_, Southern Folklife Collection, 2009

Roud #2
RECORDINGS:
Jules Allen, "The Cowboy's Lament" (Victor V-40178, 1929; Montgomery Ward M-4099, 1933)
Captain Appleblossom, "The Cowboy's Lament" (OKeh 45373, 1929)
Bentley Ball, "The Dying Cowboy" (Columbia A3085, 1920)
Al Bernard, "Cowboy's Lament (The Dying Cowboy)" (Grey Gull 4173/Radiex 4173/Van Dyke 74173 [as Buddy Moore], 1928; Radiex 5113/Van Dyke 5113 [both as "Cowboy's Lament"], n.d.)
Vernon Dalhart, "The Dying Cowboy" (Brunswick 137/Perfect 12361 [as "The Cowboy's Lament", 1927; Supertone S-2009, 1930; Conqueror 7724 [as "The Cowboy's Lament"], 1931)
Dick Devall, "Tom Sherman's Barroom" (Timely Tunes [Victor subsidiary] C-1563, 1931; on BefBlues1, WhenIWas2)
Newton Gaines, "A-Walkin' the Streets of Laredo" (Victor V-40253, 1930)
Ewen Hail, "Cowboy's Lament" (Brunswick 141, 1927; Brunswick 433/Supertone S-2043. 1930)
Harry Jackson, "Streets of Loredo" (on HJackson1)
Bradley Kincaid, "In the Streets of Laredo" (Supertone 9404, 1929)
Ken Maynard ,"The Cowboy's Lament" (Columbia 2310-D, 1930; on WhenIWas1)
Harry "Mac" McClintock, "Cowboy's Lament" (Victor 21761, 1928)
New Lost City Ramblers, "Tom Sherman's Barroom" (on NLCR06, NLCR11)
H[olland] Puckett, "The Dying Cowboy" (Champion 15428 [as Harvey Watson]/Gennett 6271/Herwin 75557 [as Robert Howell]/Silvertone 5065/Silvertone 8152 [as Si Puckett]/Silvertone 25065/Suptertone 9253 [as Harvey Watson], 1928; rec. 1927)
Johnny Prude, "The Streets of Laredo" (AFS, 1940s; on LC28, BackSaddle)
Ranch Boys, "Cowboy's Lament" (Decca 5061, 1935)
Pete Seeger, "Streets of Laredo" (on PeteSeeger12)

CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "The Unfortunate Rake" (tune & meter)
cf. "The Wild Lumberjack" (subject, meter)
cf. "The Sailor Cut Down in His Prime" (tune & meter)
cf. "The Bad Girl's Lament (St. James' Hospital; The Young Girl Cut Down in her Prime) [Laws Q26] (tune & meter, plot)
cf. "Jack Combs" (tune & meter, lyrics)
cf. "The Dying Outlaw" (tune & meter)
cf. "My Home's in Montana" (tune, floating lyrics)
cf. "My Friends and Relations" (tune, floating lyrics)
cf. "The Mowing Machine" (tune & meter)
cf. "The Bard of Armagh" (tune & meter)
cf. "Trooper Cut Down in His Prime" (tune & meter)
SAME TUNE:
A Sun Valley Song (Darling-NAS, p. 11)
The Lineman's Hymn (Darling-NAS, pp. 11-12)
The Streets of Hamtramck (Darling-NAS, p. 12)
The Ballad of Sherman Wu (Darling-NAS, p. 13; on PeteSeeger19, AmHist2)
A Golfing Song (Darling-NAS, pp. 13-14)
The Professor's Lament (Darling-NAS, pp. 14-15)
The Ballad of Bloody Thursday (Flle: CAFS2668)
ALTERNATE TITLES:
My Home's in Montana
The Young Cowboy
Tom Sherman's Barroom
Tom Sherwin's Barroom
NOTES: One of the large group of ballads ("The Bard of Armagh," "Saint James Hospital," "The Streets of Laredo") ultimately derived from "The Unfortunate Rake." All use the same tune and metre, and all involve a person dying as a result of a wild life, but the nature of the tragedy varies according to local circumstances.
Thorp/Fife studied 150 versions of this text, and determined that 39 were set in "The Streets of Laredo" or similar; 37 took place at Tom Sherman's Barroom or similar, 25 used other words starting with LA (Lafferty, London, Laden, etc.), 31 (not all of them variants of this exact song) used miscellaneous places, and 18 were not localized.
Logsdon, pp. 289-290, reports that "Tom Sherman's barroom was a popular cowboy dance hall and bar in Dodge City, Kansas." He cites a claim that this song was written by Francis Henry Maynard in 1876, and claims that Tom Sherman's was the location in this original text. Based on the dates at which the song was collected, this is possible, but I haven't listed Maynard as the author because the evidence is so thin. Logsdon quoted an article in which Maynard allegedly described the circumstances of the composition.
For the treatment of syphilis prior to the twentieth century, see the notes to "The Unfortunate Rake." - RBW
Last updated in version 4.1
File: LB01

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