The Streets of Laredo has been called possibly the most recorded cowboy song of all time.
It’s also one of the finest folk songs of all time.
Now, when I say ‘folk song’, I mean a song practically swimming in sincerity – a quality that most, for some reason, find rather tedious when mixed with their music. It’s a genre that many turn to when they need music with which they can say something about society. It’s a style that was immensely popular, in an age gone by, because so many people were able to personally participate. All you needed to do was pick up a guitar.
But that was before the industry decided that we simply can’t allow the common people to besmirch our glorious profession. “Music for the Musician” is their cry. And anyone who isn’t a member of the club can just sit quietly in the audience, applaud politely when indicated, and give up all their money…
But I digress…
Most of all, folk songs are those which tell stories.
True stories, or stories not so true.
Stories of love, or sadness – which are not at all the same thing.
Stories which can evoke the mood of what it might have felt like to have lived in such a place, at such a time in our history.
Or perhaps not.
The tune is said to derive from an old British ballad… and the words to the tune I reference weren’t said to have been penned much before the early 20’s…
That’s the 1920’s, for those of you who weren’t around at the time.
Still… that’s a bit removed from the heyday of the Texas cowboy.
Time, circumstance and an inevitable nostalgia may have informed the lyrics more than a strict historical accuracy.
That’s just a theory, though…
Here’s a version by Vince Gill, that combines the Bard of Armagh and the Streets into one go.
I have no idea what’s up with the deer…
I kinda doubt they were just hanging out on the streets of Laredo.
Them Texicans do like their hunting an awful lot, after all!
Image found here.