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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,DWR Lyr Add: Barney (Ian Tyson) (6) Lyr Add: BARNEY (Ian Tyson) 11 May 10


In the Barney thread that has recently been revived, back in 2001 Midchuck said "There's an old Ian Tyson song with the same title, about an old horse that he had to put down. One of the saddest I ever heard.

Peter. "


That reminded me that I've had that in my to post file for a long time, so long that I had forgotten it. Here it is, and as he said, it's one of the saddest songs ever; you don't know who to feel the pain for most, Ian or Barney. I have no proof that it is so, but it certainly has the feel of a true story.

BARNEY, by Ian Tyson
Originally recorded on Ian & Sylvia, Columbia 30736, 1971
Rereleased on The Beginning of the End, Bear Family BCD 15940-AH, 1996

Yesterday morning, the snow came at last,
the cattle all came down from the hill.
Barney, he's been crippled for quite a long while now,
his old legs stiffened there in the chill.

Since coming up from Texas, he's been owned by many,
and he's been rodeo'd and knocked all around.
So to bury him deep, before the ground got too hard,
that morning I put Barney down.

We walked up the hill through the dead brown grass,
Barney, a rifle, and I.
And tying him quickly, I took aim and I fired,
in hopes he'd feel nothing and die.

But with a heart such as he had, he clung so to life,
busted his halter and staggered away.
He was coughing his blood, still fighting to stand,
he pitched forward and died where he lay.

As I drove into town, I started to cry,
where no one could see or could care.
And the sadness cut through me as I stared through my tears
at rush hour's oncoming glare.

And I wept for my season of youth past and done
and for things that I thought I forgot.
But mostly I cried for an honest brown horse
who gave me much more than he got.

Years ago, I used to think that in that fourth line, Ian was singing stiff and bare rather than stiffened there, but listening more carefully while doing this transcription, I've changed my mind. It works either way though.

The song is sung solo by Ian, with only a simple piano backing


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