Strawberry Roan

Curley Fletcher, 1915 | Roud 3239, Laws B18, Ballad Index LB18

Lyrics:

I was lopin’ around town just a-spendin’ my time
Out of a job, and not making a dime
When a stranger steps up and he says I suppose
You’re a bronc rider by the looks of your clothes

You guesses me right, I’m a good one I claim
You happen to have any bad ones to tame?
Says he I’ve got one and a bad one to buck
At throwin’ good riders he’s had lots of luck

I gets all excited and ask what he pays
To ride that old pony for a couple of days
He offers a slow buck. Says I, I’m your man
For a bronc never lived that I couldn’t fan

Well, it’s oh, that strawberry roan
Oh, that strawberry roan
He’s the worst buckin’ bronco that ever was hold
He’s never been rode, and he’s twenty years old
That renegade strawberry roan

No, a bronc never lived, he never drew breath
That I couldn’t ride till he starved plumb to death
Says he Get your saddle, I’ll give you a chance
So I got in the buckboard and rode to his ranch

I stayed until morning, and right after chuck
I went out to see if that bronco could buck
Well down in the horse corrals standing alone
Was this little cavayo, a strawberry roan

His legs was all spotty and he has pigeon toes
Little pig eyes and a big roman nose
Little pin ears that touch at the tip
And a double square iron stamped on his hip

Well, it’s oh, that strawberry roan
Oh, that strawberry roan
He’s the worst buckin’ bronco that ever was hold
He’s never been rode, and he’s twenty years old
That renegade strawberry roan

Ewe-necked and old and a long lower jaw
I can see with a one eye, he was a regular outlaw
Well I put on my spurs, I was sure feelin’ fine
Pulled down my hat and I picked up my twine

I throwed that loop on him, and well I knew then
E’err he got rode, I would sure earn the ten
I got the blinds on, it sure was a fight
Next comes my saddle and I screws it down tight

Then I crawls on him and raises the blind
I was riding his middle to watch him unwind
Well, he went right to work, and I guess he unwound
He quit spending much of his time on the ground

Well, it’s oh, that strawberry roan
Oh, that strawberry roan
He’s the worst buckin’ bronco that ever was hold
He’s never been rode, and he’s twenty years old
That renegade strawberry roan

He went up toward the east, he come down toward the west
To stay in his middle, I’m doing my best
He sure was frogwalkin’ and weaving behind
My head went a-snapping and then I went blind

But I’ll tell you, no fooling, this bronco could step
But I was still in his middle, and building a rep
With a phenomenal jump he goes up on high
And I’m sitting on nothing way up in the sky

And then I turned over and came back to earth
I sat there a-cussin’ the day of this birth
And I knows that the ponies I ain’t able to ride
Some of them living – they haven’t all died

But I’ll bet all my money that there’s no man alive
Can stay with that bronc when he makes his high dive

Well, it’s oh, that strawberry roan
Oh, that strawberry roan
He’s the worst buckin’ bronco that ever was hold
He’s never been rode, and he’s twenty years old
That renegade strawberry roan

Original 1915 Lyrics

I was loafin’ around just spendin’ muh time
Out of a job and I hadn’t a dime,
When a feller steps up and sez he “I suppose
That yore uh bronc fighter by the looks o’ your clothes.”

Well I thought he was right and I told him the same,
Then I asks has he got any bad ones to tame.
He says he has one a bad one tuh buck,
And fur piling good cowboys he has lots uh luck.

Well I gets all excited and asks what he pays,
Tuh ride that old pony a couple uh days.
He offers ten dollars Sez I “I’m yure man,
Fur the bronk never lived that I couldn’t fan.”

I don’t like to brag but I got this tuh say,
That I ain’t been throwed fur many a day.
Sez he git yur saddle I’ll give yuh a chance,
So I gits in his buckboard and drifts tuh his ranch.

I stays until mornin’ and right after chuck,
I steps out tuh see if that outlaw kin buck.
He was down in the hoss corral standing alone,
A snakey eyed outlaw, a strawberry roan.

His legs is all spavined he’s got pigeon toes,
Little pig eyes and a long roman nose.
Little pin ears that touched at the tip,
An X. Y. Z. iron stamped on his hip.

Yew necked he is with a long lower jaw.
All the things that you’ll see on a wild outlaw.
Well I puts on muh spurs I’m sure feelin’ fine,
Turns up muh hat and picks up muh twine.

I dabs that loop on him and well I knows then,
That before he is rode I’ll sure earn that ten.
I gets my blinds on him it shore is a fight,
Next comes muh saddle I screws it down tight.

Then I gets on him I sez ‘raise the blind,
Move out uv his way and les see him unwind.”
Well be bows his old neck and I guess he unwound,
For he ain’t spendin’ much uv his time on the ground.

He turns his old belly right up to the sun,
He shore is a sunfishing son-of-a-gun.
He goes up toward the east and comes down toward the west,
To stay on his middle I’m doin’ my best.

He is the worst bucker I sees on the range,
He could turn on a dime and give you back change.
He hits on all fours and turns up on his side,
I don’t see how he keeps from sheddin’ his hide.

I tell yuh, no foolin’, that caballo can step,
I was still in my saddle, abuildin’ some rep.
Away goes muh stirrups and I loses* muh hat,
I’m grabbin’ the apple and blind as a bat.
*looses in the newspaper

He shore is frog walkin’ he heaves a big sigh,
He only lacks wings fur tuh be on the fly.
An while he’s a bucking he squeals like a shoat,
I tell yuh that pony has shore got muh goat.

With a phenominal jump he kicks her in high,
And I’m settin’ on nothin’ way up in the sky.
And then I descends, I come back tuh earth,
And I lights into cussin’ the day of his birth.

Then I knows that the hosses I ain’t able tuh ride,
Is some uv them livin’, they haven’t all died.
And I bets all muh money that no man alive,
Can stay with that bronk when he makes that high dive.

1917 Lyrics

I was laying round town just spending my time
Out of a job and not makin’ a dime
When up steps a feller and he says, “I suppose
That you’re a bronc rider by the looks of your clothes?”

He guesses me right. “And a good one I’ll claim
Do you happen to have any bad ones to tame?”
He says he’s got one that’s a good one to buck
And at throwing good riders he’s had lots of luck.

He says this old pony has never been rode
And the man that gets on him is bound to be throwed
I gets all excited and I ask what he pays
To ride this old pony a couple of days.

He says, “Ten dollars.” I says, “I’m your man
The bronc never lived that I cannot fan
The bronc never tried nor never drew breath
That I cannot ride till he starves plumb to death.”

He says, “Get your saddle.  I’ll give you a chance.”
We got in the buggy and went to the ranch
We waited till morning, right after chuck
I went out to see if that outlaw could buck.

Down in the corral, a-standin’ alone
Was this little old caballo, a strawberry roan
He had little pin ears that touched at the tip
And a big forty-four brand was on his left hip.

He was spavined all round and he had pidgeon toes
Little pig eyes and a big Roman nose
He was U-necked and old with a long lower jaw
You could tell at a glance he was a regular outlaw.

I buckled on my spurs, I was feeling plumb fine
I pulled down my hat and I curls up my twine
I threw the loop at him, right well I knew then
Before I had rode him I’d sure earn my ten.

I got the blind on him with a terrible fight
Cinched on the saddle and girdled it tight
Then I steps up on him and pulled down the blind
And sat there in the saddle to see him unwind.

He bowed his old neck and I’ll say he unwound
He seemed to quit living down there on the ground
He went up to the east and came down to the west
With me in the saddle, a-doing my best.

He sure was frog-walkin’, I heaved a big sigh
He only lacked wings for to be on the fly
He turned his old belly right up to the sun
For he was a sun-fishin’ son of a gun.

He was the worst bronco I’ve seen on the range
He could turn on a nickel and leave you some change
While he was buckin’ he squalled like a shoat
I tell you that outlaw, he sure got my goat.

I tell all the people that pony could step
And I was still on him a-buildin’ a rep
He came down on all fours and turned up on his side
I don’t see how he kept from losing his hide.

I lost my stirrups, I lost my hat,
I was pullin’ at leather as blind as a bat
With a phenomenal jump he made a high dive
And set me a-winding up there through the sky.

I turned forty flips and came down to the earth
And sit there a-cussing the day of his birth

I know there’s some ponies that I cannot ride
Some of them living, they haven’t all died.
But I bet all money there’s no man alive
That can ride Old Strawberry when he makes that high dive.

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About the Song:

On December 16th, 1915, a poem written by Carmen William “Curley” Fletcher (1892—1954) was published a poem called “The Outlaw Broncho” in the Arizona Record, a newspaper in Globe, AZ. Two years later, Fletcher published a more refined version under the new title “Strawberry Roan” in a collection of his poems titled Rhymes of the Roundup. This new version would go on to be the main source for most performances. The chorus, however, was not featured in either of these publications. That came when Fletcher teamed up with Nat Vincent and Fred Howard to publish sheet music. Without permission, Vincent and Howard made some edits and added the chorus. Furious, Fletcher demanded that the original poem be added for people who wanted to sing it the “right way”. This also prompted Fletcher, as he was known to do, to write his own parody titled “Castration of the Strawberry Roan”. Glenn Ohrlin, in his 1983 recording of “The Wild Buckaroo”, says that, “Curly wrote his own parodies before someone else did.”

Other titles include: “The Outlaw Broncho”

Related songs and variants: “Castration of the Strawberry Roan” (Curly Fletcher, 1964), “The Wild Buckaroo” (Curly Fletcher)