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Joe Offer Lyr Add: The Disheartened Ranger (9) ADD Version: Texas Ranger's Lament 31 Dec 20

Logsdon's chapter on this song is really good.
Chapter 7 of "The Whorehouse Bells Were Ringing" and other songs cowboys sing, collected and edited by Guy Logsdon, University of Illinois Press, 1989 (pp. 55-57)

Alternate Titles: “The Frontier Ranger” and “The Disheartened Ranger”

J Evetts Haley in his biography of Charles Goodnight wrote that
“two rangers, Tom Pollard and Alec McClosky, composed a bit of
doggerel, and sang out the words in camp”; that doggerel was “Texas
Ranger’s Lament." Haley did not cite any source for the claim of authorship, and his version as described by John A. Lomax in Cowboy Songs (1938) was “different and less singable" than the Lomax version. However, the 1938 Lomax version had the same refrain that Haley used, whereas in his 1910 and 1916 editions Lomax used no refrain. Variants in other collections are similar to the earlier Lomax texts.

Haley referred to the song critically as “doggerel” when, in fact, it is an excellent protest ballad—a protest ballad from people who seldom resorted to protest songs. It is a statement protesting the lack of appreciation for Texas Rangers from politicians and citizenry. The Rangers received little financial reward, a limited food supply, and no morale support at all except when they were needed. “The Texas Ranger’s Lament” was and is a genuine frontier protest song.

The first printing appeared under the title “The Frontier Ranger”
in Allan ’s Lone Star Ballads (1874); there were seven verses with the narrative in the third person and no refrain. Credit for authorship was given to “M. B. Smith, of the Second Texas."

The Texas Rangers were organized in 1835 during the Texas revolt
against Mexican authority; they became the official army of the Republic of Texas charged by the Texas congress to protect the Texas frontier from Indian raids. After statehood on December 29, 1845, the Rangers continued to operate as the law enforcement agency for the state before and after the Civil War. The final line in the song refers to going “home to the States," which implies that the song was composed before statehood in 1845. If this is correct, both of the aforementioned claims to authorship are probably incorrect.

Riley Neal was proud of this song, for he learned it from his father
who had been a Texas Ranger before moving to Arizona. His version is a mixture between both the Allan and Lomax texts; he knew seven verses.

I have found no recordings of this song.


Come listen to a ranger, you kindhearted stranger,
This song though a sad one, you’re welcome to hear;
We’ve fought the Comanches away from your ranches
And followed them far o’er the Texas frontier.

Your wives and your daughters we have guarded from slaughter,
Through conflicts and struggles I shudder to tell;
So fight your own battles and guard your own cattle,
For us Texas Rangers must bid you farewell.

No beans, no potatoes, no beets or tomatoes,
But jerked beef as dry as the sole on your shoes;
All day without drinking, all night without winking,
I’ll tell you, kind stranger, this never will do.

Those big alligators, the state legislators,
Are puffing and blowing two-thirds of their time;
But windy orations about rangers and rations
Never put in our pockets one-tenth of a dime.

They do not regard us, they will not reward us,
Though hungry and haggard with holes in our coats;
But the election is coming and then they’ll be drumming
And praising our valor to purchase our votes.

Where houses have people and churches have steeples,
Where laws are more equal and ladies are kind;
Where work is regarded and worth is rewarded,
Where pumpkins are plenty and pockets are lined.

We fought the Comanches away from your ranches,
Exposed to the arrows and knifes of the foes;
Though, sir, I may grieve you, the rangers must leave you,
For home to the States l’m determined to go.

References: Allan (1874), p. 92;
Haley (1936. 1949), pp. 97—98;
Lingenfelter Dwyer, and Cohen (1968), pp. 268-69;
Lomax (1910), pp. 261-62. (1916), pp 53-64;
Lomax and Lomax (1938, 1986), pp. 369-70;
Moore (1964), pp. 3l5—l6
Randolph, 2 (1948), pp. 178-79.

Note: Logsdon's book is downright fascinating.

Click to play (joeweb)

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