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Cowboy Poetry

Krista Collins doesn’t care for cowboy poetry. There it is; I blew the whistle on her. Krista is one of our terrific producers here at “The Apple Seed,” and we love her. Let's get that straight right up front. She’s apologetic about her feelings for cowboy poetry, but…well…it’s kind of a running joke around the office, especially over the last couple of days as we've been assembling an episode dedicated to the stuff. What I’m keeping quiet about is how much I love it (Krista, don’t read this). I mean, good heavens. I’m listening to Waddie Mitchell’s poem “The Sounds a Cowboy Hears,” and my word – so dang pitiful and lovely and lonely and it’s got a SONG in the middle of it that uses the word “Corazon,” (I’m a sucker, an absolute sucker, for “Spanish is the Loving Tongue,” and, well, any gunslinger ballad from “Streets of Laredo” to, well, “Spanish is the Loving Tongue.”) And while it makes me crazy ("Are you KIDDING me?") Somehow I can’t get through this stuff without blinking back great big American tears.  

I played bass once for a guy, a dyed-in-the-wool cowpoke, who spent a lot of nights out on “The Fifty” (the long, flat, lonely benches rose, one by one, beyond his western desert town at something like ten-mile increments. They’d refer to those benches by their ten-mile names: “The ten,” “The Twenty,” etc.). And here’s this guy, singing about being alone out on The Fifty, imagining a dance with his girl, in a song called “Waltz Across the Fifty,” and…well…I’d better quit writing about it, while I’m still composed. Pretty tough bass gig. Tough and wonderful. And just when I felt like a wimp for choking up, I looked over at the tough-guy mandolin player, whose tears were gently splashing on the side of his Flatiron. So there.  

As I write this, Waddie Mitchell’s “The Old Nighthawk” is going by in the CD player. And oh, darn it. I give up.  Look for me tonight sunk deep in gunslinger ballads and tall root beers. Raise a lonely glass, all. You too, Krista Collins. This is America. Like crazy.

From the desk of Sam Payne, host of The Apple Seed on BYU Radio.

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