Ragtime Cowboy Joe
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"Ragtime Cowboy Joe" is a popular song. The lyrics were written by Grant Clarke and the music was composed by Lewis F. Muir and Maurice Abrahams. It was copyrighted and published in 1912 by F.A. Mills.
It has been performed by a diverse group of artists, ranging from Bob Roberts in 1912 to The Tune Wranglers, the big band sound of Eddy Howard in 1947 to the comedic recording by The Chipmunks in 1959.
Its lyricist and composers, Clark, Muir, and Abrahams also wrote "Second Hand Rose". "Ragtime Cowboy Joe" was composed in Brooklyn after an appearance at the home of Abrahams by his nephew, Joe Abrahams, wearing a cowboy outfit. Maurice Abrahams was so captivated by the appearance of his nephew dressed up as a cowboy that he was inspired to write "Ragtime Cowboy Joe". It was a number-one hit song for singer Bob Roberts in 1912.
- Out in Arizona
- Where the bad men are,
- And the only friend to guide you
- Is an evening star,
- The roughest and the toughest
- Man by far
- Is Ragtime Cowboy Joe.
- He got his name from singin'
- To the cows and sheep
- They say that every night
- He sings the herd to sleep
- In a basso voice
- So rich and deep,
- A-croonin' soft and low.
- He always sings
- Raggy music to the cattle
- As he swings
- Back and forward in the saddle
- On a horse
- That's a syncopated gaiter
- There's-a such a funny meter
- To the roar of his repeater.
- How they run
- When they hear his gun
- Because the Western folks all know
- He's a high-falutin', rootin', shootin',
- Son of a gun from Arizona,
- Ragtime Cowboy Joe.
- Dressed up ev'ry Sunday
- In his Sunday clothes
- He beats it to the village
- Where he always goes
- And ev'ry single gal
- In town is Joe's
- 'Cause he's a ragtime bear.
- When he starts a-spieling
- On the dance hall floor
- No one but a lunatic
- Would start a war
- Because the wise men know
- His forty-four
- Would make them dance for fair.
Variations include: "How he sings", "Ragtime music", "That's syncopated gaited/And you ought to hear the meter", "scootin' shootin'" or "rootin' tootin'", "Son of a gun from old Wyoming", or additions of "(A pretty good horse)", "He's some cowboy", and/or "Talk about your cowboy".
"Ragtime Cowboy Joe" was the radio show theme song for New York City's long running, award-winning public radio show, Cowboy Joe's Radio Ranch (1976–1988), hosted by Paul Aaron, New York's Cowboy Joe. During one of his radio shows Paul Aaron had the elder Joe Abrahams (the original Cowboy Joe) as a special guest. Paul Aaron played many versions of his favorite song dating back to one sung by Bob Roberts from a 1919 acoustic RCA Victor 78 rpm record. He also played many "live" versions recorded during the University of Wyoming football and basketball games. A recent version of the song appears on Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks 2009 album "Tangled Tales".
University of Wyoming song
"Ragtime Cowboy Joe" is also the school song of the University of Wyoming. Traditionally, Cowboy fans stand and clap to the beat of the song as played by Wyoming's Western Thunder Marching Band. The version of the song appropriated by Wyoming was written by Francis Edwin Stroup (1909–2010) in 1961. He rewrote the chorus. Stroup had been an Assistant Professor of Health and Physical Education for Men at Wyoming until August 31, 1950. He also had composed the fight song for his alma mater, the University of North Texas in 1939, ten years after graduating. The song, "Fight, North Texas", has endured for seventy-four years and the lyrics have changed minimally to reflect the name changes of the university. Stroup also composed school songs for Drake University and the University of Chicago. Stroup, while teaching at Northern Illinois University in 1961, also wrote the "Huskie Fight Song", which was adopted as the university's fight song in 1963. Stroup — a collegiate academician who played piano mostly by ear and neither majored nor worked in music — lived to be 101, a number exceeding the songs he composed by one digit.
The lyrics are as follows: During a percussion break, sports fans rise and shout the following:
- (for the Cowboys)
- C! O! W! B! O! Y! S!
- COWBOYS! COWBOYS! COWBOYS!
- (for the Cowgirls)
- C! O! W! G! I! R! L! S!
- COWGIRLS! COWGIRLS! COWGIRLS!
University of California, Davis, song
- He's a high-falutin', rootin' tootin'
- Son of a gun from California
- He's some cowboy
- Talk about your cowboy
- Ragtime Cowboy Joe
"Ragtime Cowboy Joe" is the third and final single from The Chipmunks' debut album Let's All Sing with the Chipmunks. The song was released as a single in 1959. After the chart performance of the Chipmunks' last two singles, "The Chipmunk Song" and "Alvin's Harmonica", both of which managed to reach the Top Ten, it was hoped that "Ragtime Cowboy Joe" would continue their streak of Top Ten hits. Instead the single peaked at #16 on the Billboard Pop Singles Chart, which was the group's first single to miss the Top Ten, although it was their third consecutive Top 20 single. The song was also a success on the Billboard Black Singles, peaking at #29. Since the song was also credited to David Seville by Billboard, the song became Seville's fourth consecutive Top 20 single. The single also reached number 11 in the UK singles chart, the first and only The Chipmunks song to chart in the UK until 1992's "Achy Breaky Heart".
- "Ragtime Cowboy Joe", words by Grant Clarke, music by Lewis F. Muir & Maurice Abrahams, New York: F.A. Mills (1912); OCLC 19616898
- Another Book About Popular American Recording Pioneers: 1895-1925: The Unpublished Entries — "Bob Roberts", by Tim A. Gracyk (born 1959), www.gracyk.com (blog)
- Leaders in Education, Fifth edition, R.R. Bowker, New York (1974) OCLC 2167720 ISBN 0835206998 9780835206990
- Music Reference Services Quarterly, Vol. 7, Issue 1-2, 1998; ISSN 1540-9503
- "NTSC Song Author Can't Read Music — Just Pecks Out Songs", Denton Record-Chronicle, Sec. 2, pg. 1
- "Fight song composer turns 100", by Dana Herra, Daily Chronicle, (Illinois), September 7, 2009
- "Stroup, 101, wrote NIU fight song", by Kate Schott, Daily Chronicle, (Illinois), December 3, 2010
- Jill King, "Living knows no season — Composer of Fight North Texas crafts a life full of song", The North Texan, Summer 2008
- "NIU mourns passing of Francis Stroup, Former men's swimming coach penned lyrics to Huskie Fight Song", NIU Today, December 1, 2010
- College fight songs II: a supplementary anthology, William E. Studwell (born 1936 & Bruce R. Schueneman, Haworth Press (2001) OCLC 45905154 ISBN 078900920X ISBN 9780789009203 ISBN 0789009218 ISBN 9780789009210