Cowboys enjoyed a reputation as real singers back in the days when they would croon to their Longhorns at night to keep them from stampeding. But now days, although there are a lot of cowboy songs, there are not a lot of cowboy singers. The only ones I can think of off the top of my mind are Sourdough Slim, Michael Martin Murphy, Don Edwards, Red Steagall, Gwen Petersen, Wylie Gustafson, R. W. Hampton and Dave Stamey. So when I decided last year to organize a local cowboy chorus to stroll around our community singing Christmas carols, I had a hard time finding enough qualified cowboy crooners.
One of the main problems in putting together a cowboy chorus was that very few cowboys know the words to traditional Christmas songs, such as “Jingle Bells” or “Fa la la la la, la la la la.” Instead they know such classic bawdy cowboy songs as “The Whorehouse Bells Were Ringing” or “I’d Have Looked You In The Eyes But They Was Too Far Apart.” Not exactly the kind of songs you want to serenade the townsfolk with on Christmas Eve.
Undaunted, I invited all my cowboy friends over to my house to try out for the cowboy choir. The tryouts were interrupted temporarily by squad cars of police who were responding to a report that I was beating my wife. Either that or a buffalo had just been gored in my living room. Evidently some uncultured neighbor of mine that lives a mile away had called the cops to report loud groans emanating from my house that according to the neighbor, “made his flesh crawl.”
The problem is that ever since the cowboys serenaded their last Longhorn, cowboys don’t get that much practice singing. Oh, sure they sing in the shower but that is such a seldom occurrence. Ever since Gene Autry and the Chipmunks stopped singing ballads the cowboys lost their role models and now days the only notes a cowboy knows are the kind the banker is holding.
We decided that the worst thing for the cowboy choir to do would be for them to over-rehearse for fear of destroying the spontaneity of the moment. So we adjourned until Christmas Eve.
Since none of us could carry a tune, even if it was in a jug, that is what we decided to do… carry a jug. Fred’s egg nog was so stiff it would have slipped the hair off a hog.
Our wives came along and we all dressed in our newest Christmas clothes. Most of the women wore their cleanest Carhartt jacket and the men wore gaily colored bandanas to hide their faces so there would be no retaliatory strikes in case anyone found us particularly offensive. My wife wore a special Christmas present around her neck that I’d spent a fortune on, one of those neat soap on a rope things. I swear, men could hardly keep their eyes off her.
We started out with a medley of three traditional Christmas songs. (That’s three songs right in a row.) We sang “Now Bring Us Some Figgy Pudding,” “The Strawberry Roan,” and “Frosty The Snow Man.” I’d have to say that the reviews were mixed. There was an occasional egg or tomato thrown our way but more often the people along our route just felt like clapping… their hands over their ears. Three coyotes committed suicide, the town dogs thought we were a howling success and our music brought several listeners to their knees with tears in their eyes, it touched them so. And the most requested song of the evening was for a Silent Night.
In case you missed us last year… .”We wish you a Merry Christmas, we wish you a Merry Christmas, we wish you a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!”