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Songs of the West

Four Cords 

Ranger's Command

     I learned "Rangers Command" in 1947 as recorded by Woody Guthrie. Many times I have tried to rewrite it to give the fair maiden who joined the round-up a more important role, but was never able to produce a version I could keep active. However, in 1948 I found several different versions where the fair maiden was killed, which did not occur in the Woody Guthrie rendition that I learned. I adapted the event I found in a folk song collection (Ozark Folk Songs, Volume II, collected and edited by Vance Randolph, 1948, p.199. Published by The State Historical Society of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri.) I recorded another version, "The Fair Maid from the Plains" on my 1961 Folkways album, Songs of the West, which I learned from the same source as that described for Song No. 25.
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Come all of you cowboys all over this land,
I'll teach you the law of the ranger's command,
To hold a six-shooter and never to run
As long as there's bullets in both of your guns.

I met a young maiden, whose name I don't know,
I asked her to the round-up, with me would she go.
She said she'd go with me to the cold round-up,
And have a drink with me from the cold bitter cup.

We started for the canyon in the fall of the year,
Expecting to get there with a herd of fat steers,
When the rustlers broke upon us in the dead hour of night,
She rose from her warm bed, a battle to fight.

She rose from her warm bed with a gun in each hand,
Saying, 'Come all you cowboys, come fight for this land,
Come all of you cowboys and don't ever run,
As long as there's bullets in both of your guns.'

Loud roared the thunder and down come the rain,
In come a stray bullet and dashed out her brain.
I jumped in my saddle with a gun in each hand,
Saying, 'Come all you cowboys, come fight for this land,
Come all of you cowboys and don't ever run,
As long as there's bullets in both of your guns.'