Western Song: Streets of Laredo/Cowboy’s Lament
Streets of Laredo, also popularly called Cowboy’s Lament, is a famous American cowboy ballad and is voted by The Western Writers of America as one of the Top 100 Western Songs of all time.
An old-time cowboy named Frank Maynard, took the authorship and ownership of the revised edition of the song which was entitled Cowboy’s Lament. Pieces of evidence were widely presented and his story was also revealed by the journalism professor Elmo Scott Watson, then on the faculty of the University of Illinois.
The song appears to takes its roots from an Irish folk song of the late 18th century called The Unfortunate Rake. It was first published in John Lomax’s Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads in 1910. The title of the song refers to the city of Laredo, Texas. The song talks about a dying cowboy revealing the story of his life to another cowboy.
The song has been popularly performed, recorded, and adapted. Many artists have already covered and delivered their version of the song. Some of the most famous and striking versions are recorded by:
- Eddy Arnold
- Johnny Cash
- Jim Reeves
- Chet Atkins
- Willie Nelson
- Waylon Jennings
- Marty Robbins
- Vernon Dalhart
- Johnny Western
- Joan Baez
- Burl Ives
- Roy Rogers
Other Titles for Streets of Laredo/Cowboy’s Lament
Since multiple artists recorded the song, variations of the same song have also been written as:
- The Bard of Armagh
- The Sailor Cut Down in His Prime
- The Dying Cowboy
- The Cowboy’s Lament
- The Unwelcome Guest
- Streets of the East Village
- Only The Heartaches
- The Walls of a Prison
- The Streets of Laredo
Television & Cinema
Lines and verses of the song were sung on televisions and cinemas as well. Here is the list:
- In the Snow White, Blood Red episode of Murder, she wrote (1988-1989), two verses of the song were sung by a character during a wake.
- In the British found-footage horror film The Borderlands, lines from the song has been featured.
- The Irishman sung lines from the song which is played by Brendan Gleeson in the western film The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.
- Catcher Piney Woods, played by Tom Ligo, sung several verses of the song in the locker room in the 1973 baseball movie “Bang the Drum Slowly.
- In the Jim Jarmusch movie Night on Earth (1991), Roberto Benigni’s character sung a line from the song.
Listen (Marty Robbins Version)
Streets of Laredo Lyrics
As I walked out in the streets of Laredo As I walked out in Laredo one day I spied a young cowboy, all wrapped in white linen Wrapped in white linen, as cold as the clay So, beat the drum slowly and play the fife lowly Sing the Death March as you carry me along Take me to the valley, there lay the sod o'er me For I'm a young cowboy and I know I've done wrong I see by your outfit that you are a cowboy These words he did speak as I slowly walked by Come sit here beside me and hear my sad story For I'm a young cowboy and know I must die Once in the saddle I used to go dashing Once in the saddle I used to go gay First to the cardhouse and then down to Rosy's But I'm shot in the breast and I'm dyin' today Bring six tall young cowboys to carry my casket, Six pretty maids for to sing me a song Take me to green valleys, there lay the sod o'er me For I'm a young cowboy and I know I've done wrong Fetch me some water, a cool cup of water To cool my parched lips, then the poor cowboy said Before I returned, his spirit had left him Had gone to his Maker, the cowboy was dead. So, beat the drum slowly and play the fife lowly Play the Death March as you carry me along Take me to green valleys, there lay the sod o'er me For I'm a young cowboy and I known I've done wrong