Tall men riding
Music: Trad. arr. Sheena Phillips, Words: Omar Barker (1894-1985)
Voicing: TBarB, piano
Performance time approx: 3m 30s
Range T: f – e'♭ / Bar: c – d' / B: B♭ – a
Price code: C
This piece is part of the set "Three cowboy songs".
The set also includes:
The words of Tall Men Riding are from the 20th century genre of ‘cowboy poetry’ written nostalgically by people looking back to the days of ranching. Omar Barker (1894 – 1985) was born on a small ranch in New Mexico and became a full-time writer, producing hundreds of poems and stories about the dying lifestyle of the cattle rancher. The baritones have the tune, accompanied homophonically by the basses, while the tenors sing an inter-weaving counter-melody.
This is the song that the night birds sing
As the phantom herds trail by,
Horn by horn where the long plains fling
Flat miles to the Texas sky:
Oh, the high hawk knows where the rabbit goes,
And the buzzard marks the kill,
But few there be with eyes to see
The Tall Men riding still.
They hark in vain on the speeding train
For an echo of hoofbeat thunder,
And the yellow wheat is a winding sheet
For cattle trails plowed under.
Hoofdust flies at the low moon's rise,
And the bullbat's lonesome whir
Is an echoed note from a longhorn throat
Of a steer, in the days that were.
Inch by inch time draws the cinch,
Till the saddle will creak no more,
And they who were lords of the cattle hordes
Have tallied their final score.
This is the song that the night birds wail
Where the Texas plains lie wide,
Watching the dust of a ghostly trail,
Where the phantom Tall Men ride!
S. Omar Barker (1894 – 1985)
Lyrics © copyright Cowboy Miner Press 1998 and reprinted with kind permission from Cowboy Miner Productions