Texas and Southwestern Lore Page: 192
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SONGS OF THE OPEN RANGE
BY INA SIRES
(EDITOR'S NOTE.-It was not until preparations for this issue of the
Publications had been almost completed that I learned of the work being
done by Miss Sires. Realizing the interest that a large number of the
Society's membership would have in her new book of cowboy songs,
I wrote to Miss Sires asking for a brief statement of her work and a
sample of her material. She very accomodatingly responded as fol-
lows. For further information concerning her, see "Contributors," toward
the end of the volume.)
The accurate knowledge of any primitive people is found
in their songs, for these express what is nearest the heart of
the people. In accordance with this universal principle, the
American cowboy lives in ballads that speak the heart of the
Old West-the West of yesterday, boisterous, reckless, ro-
mantic, and somehow tragic; a land of promise and adventure,
of freedom and open skies, but sometimes a land of lone-
liness and failure.
For the last five years I have been making a collection of
cowboy songs-both words and melodies--thinking that these
songs would be of value in furnishing future generations with
a truer conception than the prevailing one of what the cow-
boy really was. Making this collection has been a slow pro-
cess, for the songs are scattered all over those states west of
the Mississippi where here and there remains an isolated
relic of a past institution.
My work has been lightened by the collections of Mr. N.
Howard Thorp and Mr. John A. Lomax. The collection of
the latter contains a few melodies, but these deserve a wider
recognition apart from the words of the songs, for they be-
long distinctly to the cowboys. In them is the greyness of
the prairies, the mournful minor note of a Texas norther, and
a rhythm that fits into the gait of the cowboy's pony. The
songs and their tunes were born of the saddle. Although
the origin of some of the cowboy songs may be traced back
to ballads of other nations, and the tunes are borrowed ones,
there are songs, both words and melodies, that even the most
discriminating critic must admit are indigenous to American
I have several ballads that so far as I know have not ap-
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Dobie, J. Frank (James Frank), 1888-1964. Texas and Southwestern Lore, book, 1927; Dallas, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc67662/m1/194/: accessed September 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Press.