Songs of Colonization

The Songs of Colonization - American

About the Songs

The songs that make up this Corpus were all selected from Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads,1 which was first published in 1910. We choose this source because it was easily accessible and was already digitalized on the Project Guttenberg site. We selected songs whose content dealt directly with either expansion and possession of land or with settlers’ relationships with native peoples. You will notice that this corpus is significantly larger than the German songs, this is due to multiple historical and practical reasons. First, we had a much easier time finding and accessing American folk songs online. The American period of expansion was also much longer and has been celebrated in popular culture to this day. This accounts for a greater public interest in these songs, which likely contributed to higher rates of publication and circulation. Due to the time and resource restrictions of this project, we embraced this disparity and went forward with a greater amount of American songs.


Come all you pretty girls, to you these lines I'll write,
We are going to the rangecelebratory in which we take delight;
We are going on the range as we poor hunters do,
And the tender-footed fellows can stay at home with you.

It's all of the day long as we go tramping roundexploring
In search of the buffalo that we may shoot him downresources ;
Our guns upon our shoulders, our belts of forty rounds,
We send them up Salt River to some happy hunting grounds.

Our gameresources , it is the antelope, the buffalo, wolf, and deer,
Who roam the wide prairies without a single fear;
We rob him of his robe and think it is no harmresources ,
To buy us food and clothing to keep our bodies warm.

The buffalo, he is the noblest of the band,
He sometimes rejects in throwing up his hand.
His shaggy main thrown forward, his head raised to the sky,
He seems to say, "We're coming, boys; so hunter, mind your eye."

Our fires are made of mesquite roots, our beds are on the ground;
Our houses made of buffalo hidesresources , we make them tall and round;
Our furniture is the camp kettle, the coffee pot, and pan,
Our chuck it is both bread and meat, mingled well with sand.

Our neighbors are the Cheyennes, the 'Rapahoes, and Siouxcoexisting ,
Their mode of navigation is a buffalo-hide canoe.
And when they come upon you they take you unawareperpetrator: native, victim: settler ,
And such a peculiar way they have of raising hunter's hair.


Now, O Lord, please lend me thine ear,
The prayer of a cattleman to hear,
No doubt the prayers may seem strange,
But I want you to bless our cattle rangeland .

Bless the round-ups year by year,
And don't forget the growing steer;
Water the lands with brooks and rills
For my cattle that roam on a thousand hills.

Prairie fires, won't you please stop?
Let thunder roll and water drop.
It frightens me to see the smoke;
Unless it's stopped, I'll go dead broke.

As you, O Lord, my herdresources behold,
It represents a sack of gold;
I think at least five cents a pound
Will be the price of beef the year around.

One thing more and then I'm through,--
Instead of one calf, give my cows two.
I may pray different from other men
But I've had my say, and now, Amen.


He leaves unplowed his furrow,
He leaves his books unread
For a life of tented freedom
By lure of danger led.
He's first in the hour of peril,
He's gayest in the dance,
Like the guardsman of old Englandpatriotism
Or the beau sabreur of Francepatriotism .

He stands our faithful bulwarkloyality
Against our savage foehating, xenophobia ;
Through lonely woodland places
Our children come and go;
Our flocks and herdsresources untended
O'er hill and valley roam,
The Ranger in the saddle
Means peacebelonging for us at homepeace .

Behold our smiling farmsteadsland
Where waves the golden grain!
Beneath yon tree, earth's bosomloving
Was dark with crimson stain.
That bluff the death-shot echoed
Of husband, father, slainperpetrator: ambiguous, victim: settler!
God grant such sight of horror
We never see again!

The gay and hardy Ranger,
His blanket on the ground,
Lies by the blazing camp-fire
While song and tale goes round;
And if one voice is silent,
One fails to hear the jest,
They know his thoughts are absent
With her who loves him best.

Our statepossessive , her sons confess it,
That queenly, star-crowned brow,
Has darkened with the shadow
Of lawlessness ere now;
And men of evil passions
On her reproach have laid,
But that the ready Ranger
Rode promptly to her aid.

He may not win the laurel
Nor trumpet tongue of fame;
But beauty smiles upon him,
And ranchmen bless his namereverant .
Then here's to the Texas Rangerreverant ,
Past, present and to come!
Our safety from the savagexenophobia ,
The guardian of our homepatriotism .


Come, all you Texas rangers, wherever you may be,
I'll tell you of some troubles that happened unto me.
My name is nothing extra, so it I will not tell,--
And here's to all you rangersreverant , I am sure I wish you well.

It was at the age of sixteen that I joined the jolly band,
We marched from San Antonio down to the Rio Grande.
Our captain he informed us, perhaps he thought it right,
"Before we reach the station, boys, you'll surely have to fight."

And when the bugle sounded our captain gave commandloyality ,
"To arms, to arms," he shouted, "and by your horses stand."
I saw the smoke ascending, it seemed to reach the sky;
The first thought that struck me, my time had come to die.

I saw the Indians comingother , I heard them give the yell;
My feelings at that moment, no tongue can ever tell.
I saw the glittering lances, their arrows round me flewperpetrator: native, victim: settler ,
And all my strength it left me and all my courage too.

We foughtperpetrator: ambiguous, victim: ambiguous full nine hours before the strife was o'er,
The like of dead and wounded I never saw before.
And when the sun was rising and the Indians they had fled,
We loaded up our rifles and counted up our dead.

And all of us were wounded, our noble captainreverant slain,
And the sun was shining sadly across the bloody plain.
Sixteen as brave rangersreverant as ever roamed the West
Were buried by their comradessolidarity with arrows in their breastperpetrator: native, victim: settler .

'Twas then I thought of motherlonging, who to me in tears did say,
"To you they are all strangers, with me you had better stay."
I thought that she was childish, the best she did not know;
My mind was fixed on ranging and I was bound to gobelonging .

Perhaps you have a mother, likewise a sister too,
And maybe you have a sweetheart to weep and mourn for you;
If that be your situation, although you'd like to roam,
I'd advise you by experience, you had better stay at homecomplaint .

I have seen the fruits of rambling, I know its hardships well;
I have crossed the Rocky Mountains, rode down the streets of hell;
I have been in the great Southwest where the wild Apachesxenophobia roam,
And I tell you from experience you had better stay at homecomplaint .

And now my song is ended; I guess I have sung enough;
The life of a ranger I am sure is very tough.
And here's to all you ladies, I am sure I wish you well,
I am bound to go a-rangingbelonging , so ladies, fare you well.


My countrycomplaint , 'tis of thee,
Land where things used to becomplaint
So cheap, we croak.
Land of the mavericksland ,
Land of the puncher's tricksland ,
Thy culture-inroad pricks
The hide of this peeler-bloke.

Some of the punchers swear
That what they eat and wear
Takes all their calves.
Others vow that they
Eat only once a day
Jerked beef and prairie hay
Washed down with tallow salves.

These salty-dogs but crave
To pull them out the grave
Just one Kiowa spurxenophobia .
They know they still will dine
On flesh and beef the time;
But give us, Lord divine,
One "hen-fruit stir."

Our father's landpossessive , with thee,
Best trails of libertyreverant ,
We chose to stop.
We don't exactly like
So soon to henceward hike,
But hell, we'll take the pike
If this don't stop.


I love not Colorado
Where the faro table grows,
And down the desperado
The rippling Bourbon flows;

Nor seek I fair Montana
Of bowie-lunging fame;
The pistol ring of fair Wyoming
I leave to nobler game.

Sweet poker-haunted Kansas
In vain allures the eye;
The Nevada rough has charms enough
Yet its blandishments I fly.

Shall Arizona woo me
Where the meek Apache bides?xenophobia
Or New Mexico where natives growxenophobia
With arrow-proof insides?

Nay,'tis where the grizzlies wander
And the lonely diggers roam,
And the grim Chinese from the squatter fleesxenophobia
That I'll make my humble home.possessive

I'll chase the wild tarantula
And the fierce cayote I'll dare,
And the locust grim, I'll battle him
In his native wildwood lair.

Or I'll seek the gulch desertedexploring
And dream of the wild Red man,xenophobia
And I'll build a cot on a corner lot
And get rich as soon as I can.


I'll sing you a song, though it may be a sad one,
Of trials and troubles and where they first begun;
I left my dear kindred, my friends, and my home,longing
Across the wild deserts and mountains to roam.exploring

I crossed the Missouri and joined a large trainexploring
Which bore us over mountain and valley and plain;exploring
And often of evenings out hunting we'd go
To shoot the fleet antelope and wild buffalo.resources

We heard of Sioux Indiansxenophobia all out on the plains
A-killing poor drivers and burning their trains,perpetrator: native, victim: settler --
A-killing poor drivers with arrows and bow,perpetrator: native, victim: settler
When captured by Indians no mercy they show.perpetrator: native, victim: settler

We traveled three weeks till we came to the Platteexploring
And pitched out our tents at the end of the flat,land
We spread down our blankets on the green grassy ground,land
While our horses and mules were grazing around.

While taking refreshment we heard a low yell,
The whoop of Sioux Indiansxenophobia coming up from the dell;
We sprang to our rifles with a flash in each eye,perpetrator: settler, victim: native
"Boys," says our brave leader, "we'll fight till we die."solidarity

They made a bold dash and came near to our train
And the arrows fell around us like hail and like rain,perpetrator: native, victim: settler
But with our long rifles we fed them cold lead perpetrator: settler, victim: native
Till many a brave warrior around us lay dead. perpetrator: settler, victim: native

We shot their bold chief at the head of his band.perpetrator: settler, victim: native
He died like a warrior with a gun in his hand.perpetrator: settler, victim: native
When they saw their bold chief lying dead in his gore,perpetrator: settler, victim: native
They whooped and they yelled and we saw them no more.

With our small band,--there were just twenty-four,--
And the Sioux Indians there were five hundred or more,--
We fought them with courage; we spoke not a word,perpetrator: settler, victim: native
Till the end of the battle was all that was heard.

We hitched up our horses and we started our train;
Three more bloody battles this trip on the plain;perpetrator: settler, victim: native
And in our last battle three of our brave boysbrotherhood fell,perpetrator: native, victim: settler
And we left them to rest in a green, shady dell.


Come all of you, my brother scouts,brotherhood
And join me in my song;
Come, let us sing together
Come all of you, my brother scouts,brotherhood
And join me in my song;
Come, let us sing together
Though the shadows fall so long.

Of all the old frontiersmenreverant
That used to scour the plain,
There are but very few of them
That with us yet remain.solidarity

Day after day they're dropping off,
They're going one by one;
Our clan is fast decreasing,solidarity
Our race is almost run.solidarity

There were many of our number
That never wore the blue,
But, faithfully, they did their part,loyality
As brave men, tried and true.brotherhood
But, faithfully, they did their part,loyality
As brave men, tried and true.brotherhood

They never joined the army,
But had other work to do
In piloting the coming folks,
To help them safely through.

But, brothers, we are falling,brotherhood
Our race is almost run;solidarity
The days of elk and buffalo
And beaver traps are gone.

Oh the days of elk and buffalo
It fills my heart with painnostalgic
To know these days are past and gonenostalgicnostalgic
To never come again.

We foughtperpetrator: settler, victim: native the red-skin rascalsxenophobia
Over valley, hill, and plain;
We fought him in the mountain top,perpetrator: settler, victim: native
And fought him down again.perpetrator: settler, victim: native
It fills my heart with pain
To know these days are past and gone
To never come again.

We fought the red-skin rascalsperpetrator: native, victim: settler
Over valley, hill, and plain;
We fought him in the mountain top,perpetrator: native, victim: settler
And fought him down againperpetrator: native, victim: settler .

These fighting days are over;
The Indian yell resoundsperpetrator: settler, victim: native
No more along the border;
Peace sends far sweeter soundspeace.

But we found great joy, old comradesbrotherhood
To hear, and make it die;
We won bright homes for gentle ones,land
And now, our West,land good-bye. nostalgic
But we found great joy, old comradescelebratory
To hear, and make it die;
We won bright homes for gentle ones,land ,
And now, our West,land good-bye.nostalgic


  1. Lomax, John A. 1. Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads, Collected by John A. Lomax . with an Introduction by Barrett Wendell. The Macmillan company, 1927, New York (State), 1927.