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 became a number-one hit song for singer Bob Roberts, also the second best-selling record of 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: "Where the bad lands are", "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 an 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".
College fight songs
University of Wyoming song
"Ragtime Cowboy Joe" is also the fight 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-five 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.
The lyrics Stroup wrote for the University of Wyoming follow:
- (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
- 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. The Chipmunks' two prior singles, "The Chipmunk Song" and "Alvin's Harmonica", both reached the Top Ten; "Ragtime Cowboy Joe" would peak at #16 on the Billboard Pop Singles Chart. 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, it became Seville's fourth consecutive Top 20 single. The single also reached #11 in the UK singles chart, the first and only 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
- "Top Songs of 1912", MusicVF, retrieved March 28, 2015
- Leaders in Education, Fifth edition, R.R. Bowker, New York (1974) OCLC 2167720, ISBN 978-0-8352-0699-0
- 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, June 25, 1950
- "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
- "Living knows no season – Composer of Fight North Texas crafts a life full of song", by Jill King, 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 & Bruce R. Schueneman, Haworth Press (2001) OCLC 45905154, ISBN 978-0-7890-0920-3, ISBN 978-0-7890-0921-0
- "Ragtime Cowboy Joe", 1912 Victor recording by Bob Roberts, at the Discography of American Historical Recordings, UC Santa Barbara
- 1912 full sheet music at Knowledge Bank, Ohio State University
- "Behind the Radio Cowboy", New York Times article about "Cowboy Joe's Radio Ranch"