Strawberry Roan, The [Laws B18]

DESCRIPTION: An unemployed cowboy is offered the chance of a job if he can ride the strawberry roan. Confident of his skill, he mounts the horse -- to be thrown within seconds. He concludes the horse is unridable.
AUTHOR: Words: almost certainly Curley Fletcher (1892-1954)
EARLIEST DATE: 1915 (published by Fletcher in the Globe, AZ Record as "The Outlaw Broncho"); the standard version derives from "Rhymes of the Roundup," published 1917
KEYWORDS: horse cowboy injury unemployment
REFERENCES (16 citations):
Laws B18, "The Strawberry Roan"
Randolph 202, "Strawberry Roan" (1 text)
Randolph/Legman-RollMeInYourArms II, 652-655, "The Strawberry Roan" (2 texts)
Morris-FolksongsOfFlorida, #14, "The Strawberry Roan" (1 text)
Fowke/Johnston-FolkSongsOfCanada, pp. 98-100, "The Strawberry Roan" (1 text, 1 tune)
Fife/Fife-CowboyAndWesternSongs 68, "The Strawberry Roan" (2 texts, 1 tune, the second text being the parody "Bad Brahma Bull")
Ohrlin-HellBoundTrain 28, "The Strawberry Roan" (1 text, 1 tune); also two sequels by Wilf Carter: 29, "He Rode the Strawberry Roan" (1 text); 30, "The Fate of Old Strawberry Roan" (1 text)
Hubbard-BalladsAndSongsFromUtah, #165, "The Strawberry Roan" (1 text, 1 tune)
Tinsley-HeWasSinginThisSong, pp. 130-133, "The Strawberry Roan" (1 text, 1 tune)
Abernethy-SinginTexas, pp. 140-151, "Strawberry Roan" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber/Silber-FolksingersWordbook, p. 111, "Strawberry Roan" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: John I. White, _Git Along, Little Dogies: Songs and Songmakers of the American West_, 1975 (page references are to the 1989 University of Illinois Press edition), pp. 137-147, "The Strange Career of 'The Strawberry Roan'" (1 text, 1 tune, plus various excerpts and a history of the song)
Suzi Jones, _Oregon Folklore_, University of Oregon/Oregon Arts Commission, 1977, p. 45, "The Old Strawberry Roan" (1 text, 1 tune)
Tom Nash and Twilo Scofield, _The Well-Travelled Casket: Oregon Folklore_, Meadowlark Press, 1999, p. 120, "The Strawberry Roan" (1 text, 1 tune)
Hal Cannon, editor, _Cowboy Poetry: A Gathering_, Giles M. Smith, 1985, pp. 57-59, "The Strawberry Roan" (1 text)

Roud #3239
Arizona Wranglers, "Strawberry Roan" (Merry Xmas L949, 1929; on BackSaddle)
Bill Boyd & his Cowboy Ramblers, "Strawberry Roan" (Bluebird B-5667, 1934; Montgomery Ward M-4778, 1935)
Beverly Hillbillies, "The Strawberry Roan" (Brunswick 514/Supertone S-2263, 1931)
W. C. Childers "Strawberry Roan, Part 1/Part2" (Superior 2722 [as Enos Wanner], 1931; Champion 16467, 1932; Montgomery Ward 4951, 1936; Champion 45103, n.d.)
Bob Ferguson [pseud. for Bob Miller], "Strawberry Roan" (Columbia 15677-D, 1931)
Paul Hamblin, "The Strawberry Roan" (Victor V-40260, 1930; on WhenIWas2)
Harry Jackson, "Strawberry Roan" (on HJackson1, CowFolkCD1)
Bob Kackley & Bob Ferguson, "Strawberry Roan" (OKeh 45531, 1931)
Bud Kelly, "Strawberry Roan" (Broadway 8331, rec. 1932)
[Frank] Luther & [Carson] Robison "The Strawberry Roan" (Melotone M-12350, 1932)
Ranch Boys, "The Strawberry Roan" (Decca 5074, 1935)
Bob Sherman, "The Strawberry Roan" (Clarion 5336C, c. 1929)
Wesley Tuttle, "Strawberry Roan" (Coral 64051, 1950)
John White, "The Strawberry Roan" (Banner 32179/Romeo 1629/Perfect 12712/Conqueror 7753, 1931)

cf. "While Hanging Around Town" (tune & meter)
cf. "The Wild Buckaroo" (tune & meter)
cf. "No Balls at All" (tune, in some versions)
cf. "Wild Rover No More" (tune, in some versions)
cf. "The Zebra Dun" (theme of the un-ridable horse) and references there
cf. "The Castration of the Strawberry Roan" (tune, character of the Roan)
Castration of the Strawberry Roan (File: Logs013)
He Rode the Strawberry Roan (Ohrlin-HellBoundTrain 29; Wilf Carter, "He Rode the Strawberry Roan" (Bluebird [Canada] B-4974, 1934/Regal Zonophone [Australia] G23152, n.d.))
The Fate of Old Strawberry Roan (Ohrlin-HellBoundTrain 30; Wilf Carter, "The Fate of Old Strawberry Roan" (Montgomery Ward M-7186, 1937; Bluebird [Canada] B-4602, c. 1938))
Ridge Runnin' Roan (Tex Fletcher, "Ridge Runnin' Roan" (Decca 5302, 1936))
Tchepone (RECORDING, Toby Hughes, Chip Dockery & Robin Thomas, on InCountry)
The Outlaw Broncho
NOTES [274 words]: Powder River Jack Lee claimed that Frank R. Chamberlain wrote the words to this song in 1894. No other evidence of this has been offered, however, and every known version seems to go back to Fletcher.
A number of "sequels" to "Strawberry Roan" have been written, including the two by Wilf Carter cited by Ohrlin. Austin E. Fife published an article on the subject, "The Strawberry Roan and His Progeny," in the John Edwards Memorial Quarterly.
For more on the offspring of this song, see the notes to "The Castration of the Strawberry Roan." - RBW
I think it's been fairly well established, despite Powder River Jack, that Fletcher wrote the words, probably in 1914. To quote Logsdon, "It was being sung by many people and Fletcher got no credit or money. So he collaborated with two Hollywood song writers, Nat Vincent and Fred Howard, to publish it as sheet music. When it came off the press they had made changes and added a chorus. Fletcher was furious and demanded that they print his original poem on the inside back cover for those who wanted to sing it the right way (and he wrote a bawdy version.)" The chorus they wrote, "Oh, that strawberry roan," has become part of most versions collected from tradition. - PJS
This general story is also confirmed by White, who notes other places where Fletcher published the poem his way. He doesn't seem to have been bothered as much by the fact that it became a song. - RBW
A soldier serving in Viet Nam wrote "Tchepone" about an "easy" bombing run that turns into a nightmare, to this tune. It was recorded on the CD "In Country: Folk Songs of Americans in the Viet Nam War," not yet indexed. -PJS
Last updated in version 5.3
File: LB18

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