Texas Highways, Volume 51 Number 10, October 2004 Page: 38
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II *(% Wi[
BY JOHN T. DAVIS
THEN, AS NOW, THE GOAL
-THE SILVER TROPHY
BUCKLE, AS IT WERE-OF
THE SINGING COWBOY WAS
TO EVOKE A ROMANTI-
CIZED PAST FOR A LARGE-,
L URBANIZED AUDIENCE.
SEAN 0'BRADY, on the far side of the herd, began to sing his night song, an Irish melody
whose words did not carry across the long plain where the cattle stood.
"This is a lucky herd."
"And how is that?" Jake asked.
"Why, it's the only herd on the trail that's got two fine Irish baritones to sing to it,"
Augustus said. -Lonesome Dove by LARRY McMURTRY
I[ LL I E [ EL S [0 is reputed to have said that he never cared for John Wayne
because, in his words, "He couldn't sing and his horse was never smart." Whether
the words are Willie's or not, they reflect a childhood whose Saturdays were spent in
the balcony of a picture show in Hillsboro, watching Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Bob
Wills, the Sons of the Pioneers, and other "singing cowboys" contest with rustlers,
evil cattle barons, and even the occasional Nazi or sci-fi subterranean Phantom
Empire denizen on the silver screen.
Willie went on to become a singing cowboy himself, of course, even though he
grew up chopping cotton on the blackland prairie south of Hillsboro instead of rid-
ing the open range. Well, never mind. Gene Autry may have been born on a ranch in
Tioga, but he was working as a railroad telegrapher in the Twenties when Will Rogers
heard him sing and suggested he parlay his talent into a showbiz career.
Fort Worth's Red Steagall used to rodeo in his youth, but he is better known as a
35-year music-biz veteran, the discoverer of a young Reba McEntire, and a writer of
commercial hits like "Party Dolls and Wine" and "Lone Star Beer and Bob Wills
Music." No one, however, begrudges him his cowboy hat.
[ABoVE] Michael Martin Murphey gave the
renaissance of Western music a momentous
boost with his release of the album Cowboy
Songs in 1990.
38 TEXAS HIGHWAYS October 2004
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Texas. Department of Transportation. Texas Highways, Volume 51 Number 10, October 2004, periodical, Date Unknown; Austin, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth839147/m1/42/: accessed April 25, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.