Alex Campbell   •   Songs and Stories of the Wide West

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  • Songs and Stories of the Wide West
    • 1964 - (Decca) Vocalion VL 73726 LP (USA)
  • Side One
    1. Cowboys and Cattle
    2. Tales and Trails
    3. Railroads and Ranches
    4. Water and Weevils
    5. Duds and Dances
  • Side Two
    1. Home on the Range
    2. In Open Country
    3. Bad Weather Bad Men
    4. Herders North and South
    5. At the Campfire

  • Credits
    • Michael Cusack as Slim
    • with Alex Campbell and Joe Locker
    • The Range-Rider Singers

Sleeve Notes

A Note to Parents: Our children are often given a highly distorted view of the American West as it was and is. This record has been designed to bring the West to young listeners in authentic form, and to present a faithful view of life on a cattle ranch as seen through the eyes of a cowboy living and working there. A cowboy has a uniquely American job, and he fascinates young people (and adults as well) because he is engaged in a constant struggle with the elements. At the same time, he puts nature to work for him, and there are many valuable lessons to be learned from his way of life — as Theodore Roosevelt was one of the first to discover.

First, of course, comes a cowboy's horse. The horse is the cowboy's companion and co-worker — and must never be neglected. Youngsters will enjoy "doing" some of the chores that horses and cattle involve. They'll learn about the hard work, the danger and the fun to be found on a ranch. They'll experience a little of what the unpredictable weather means to a cowhand, and they may be surprised to find that cowboys admire the beautiful Western landscape as much as any tourist. The various articles of special clothing that cowboys wear — from chaps to bandana to ten-gallon hat — are explained by the narrator, and we also hear about the meaning and origin of many Western words and expressions.

Authentic Western songs appear in this recording — songs that are part and parcel of America's history. They bring children a truer image of the West than "six-guns and scalpings" could ever do. We hear such fine melodies as "I Ride an Old Paint," "The Night Herding Song" or "Red River Valley" and learn exactly how this music came to take its place in the cowboy's daily routine. Others, like "The Cowboy's Dream" are less familiar but equally instructive. One old-time favorite tells not of cattle but of the railroad that finally spanned America and brought the range country within easy reach of riders from the East. And there's a whimsical history of the bothersome boll weevil that plagued the cotton growers of Texas. As a rough-and-ready cowboy waltz goes to prove, cattlemen have always liked dancing as well as singing. A real Western guitar-and-banjo combination is heard in these numbers, as fitting accompaniment to riding herd, mending fences or slicking up for the Saturday party.

The narrator of these adventures, Michael Cusack, is a native of Fort Worth, Texas, and has several roomfuls of trophies and ribbons that testify to his long interest and experience in horsemanship. Mr. Cusack became a member of the American Quarterhorse Association while still in his teens, and taught riding in Texas and Colorado for a number of years. His entries have won prizes in all of the major horseshows of Texas. In recent years, his announcing of horseshows has led directly to a career in radio, stage and television, and he is now also active as a director. Author Paul R. Krause, who created this script with Mr. Cusack's expert collaboration, is an Easterner who has spent several years in the Wide West, principally in New Mexico. Joe Locker ranks as one of the nation's leading banjoists, and Alex Campbell is a restless Scot who sings and collects authentic folk material among wranglers, cowboys and dudes, on the plains and in the mountains.