Cowboy Music
July 15, 2008 2:59 PM   Subscribe

Cowboy Music: I want to learn more about it.

I've recently discovered the sub-genre called "cowboy music". I want to explore it, but don't know where to begin. What's considered classic? Which songs are considered "standards" of the genre? Who are the great artists to check out? What albums/songs are highlights of the genre's history? Also, I'm seeking to learn the "standards" of the genre to play on guitar during camping trips. Are their any books out there to facilitate that?
posted by keith0718 to Media & Arts (14 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Marty Robbins- Tumblin' Tumbleweeds
posted by kuujjuarapik at 3:21 PM on July 15, 2008

I like discovering this; it's American in a funny way and interesting.

There is a series on Rhino Records called "Songs Of The West" which has a lot of great stuff.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 3:51 PM on July 15, 2008

Check out Don Edwards. His recording of "Coyotes" was the closing song for Werner Herzog's documentary "Grizzley Man". I will be watching this thread. Thanks!
posted by snowjoe at 4:01 PM on July 15, 2008

Marty Robbins- Tumblin' Tumbleweeds

*cough* Tex Ritter.

I'd also reccomend Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, etc.
posted by jonmc at 4:34 PM on July 15, 2008

Best answer: Bill C. Malone's fantastic book "Singing Cowboys and Musical Mountaineers: Southern Culture and the Roots of Country Music" can help you here, particularly the last third, though it may be delving a little deeper than you're wanting to go. And though there are many great ones out there, there will always be a special place in my heart for the Pavarotti of the Plains, Mr. Don Walser, rest his soul.
posted by pogo at 4:44 PM on July 15, 2008

Oh yeah, and Sons of the Pioneers are gonna be right up your alley.
posted by pogo at 4:47 PM on July 15, 2008

Best answer: I had heard of but never heard Marty Robbins when I moved to Wrangell Alaska for a year. Reeling from an economic downturn the island population had dwindled to ~2500. Nobody locked their car, most didn't even lock their house and all listened to KSTK, the only radio station in town. An NPR affiliate without the means to subscribe to a full schedule of programming they would often, as in it seemed like every day, play that entire Gunfighter Ballads album completely through during the very early morning hours.

Nearly a year after I returned from Alaska the music still haunted me. It sang to me. I called to KSTK and started to explain that maybe they wouldn't know but if they could tell me the name of the 'cowboy' music that used to play in the early mornings I would really appreciate it. I don't recall if I was even able to complete the question before the answer came, "Marty Robbins."

My grandmother was happy to hear that I listen to and enjoy Marty Robbins.

I don't have the religion but "The Master's Call" is an amazing song.

Yeah, there were others before Marty Robbins but he embraced and helped to define the genre. No collection of cowboy music would be complete without his Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs
posted by geekyguy at 5:00 PM on July 15, 2008

Best answer: Uncle Gil's Rockin' Archives
posted by omnidrew at 8:05 PM on July 15, 2008

Best answer: I own volumes 1 and 3 of this series and they're really good. There is some cheesy stuff, and many of the songs wouldn't be sung by actual, self-respecting cowboys, but the liner notes are an education in themselves and the music is a heckuva lot of fun to listen to. Volume 3 features Marty Robbins.
posted by homelystar at 8:30 PM on July 15, 2008

Best answer: Check out Western Swing on 78. It is sublime for this type of music.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 9:25 PM on July 15, 2008

The Smithsonian Folkways catalog has lots of traditional music.
posted by brookeb at 10:43 PM on July 15, 2008

Best answer: You can check out the archives of the Secret Museum of the Air from WFMU. Besides having a ton of very interesting music there, they have two episodes entitled "Cowboy." I thought they had a black cowboy episode, but I see it's actually black country, followed by white blues. Which might have some relevance as the roots of the music you're thinking about.
posted by HE Amb. T. S. L. DuVal at 10:59 PM on July 15, 2008

Marty Robbins was the first name I thought of when I read the OP. I have an album of his called Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs. Great album!

I'm sure not all would agree, but I would venture to say that Chris Ledoux was the last remaining "Cowboy Singer". Even if the music isn't exactly what you're looking for, the spirit of it is very much the same.
posted by jluce50 at 7:20 AM on July 16, 2008

Best answer: This lady has done some research into cowboy music. The link on that page to the research doesn't seem to work but it has an area where you can contact her. I have spoken to her and she absolutely loves to talk about cowboy music and is one of those people who would help you in any way possible.
posted by catseatcheese at 7:56 AM on July 16, 2008

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