(Bennett Foster/Slim Critchlow)

Ed Trickett: guitar, lead vocal; Cathy Barton: banjo, vocal; Dave Para: guitar, vocal; Harry Tuft: bass

Bennett Foster, who died in 1969, wrote this poem, and Slim Critchlow gave it the tune. Slim included it on his Arhoolie record, The Crooked Trail to Holllrook, an album put together from tapes made by Barry Olivier of a number of programs Slim gave in the Berkeley, California, area during the late 1960s. Slim died just a few weeks before the album was released (and only one month after the author of the poem). I'm indebted to Katie Lee's Katydid publication, Ten Thousand Goddam Cattle, for most of this information. Let me give you a quote from the book: Slim was, until settling in Califomia, an outdoor man; a cowboy in Idaho, a deputy sheriff in Salt Lake County, a park ranger in Bryce and Zion National Parks, and finally corraled indoors, a radio singer. (You can order this book, as well as Katie Lee's recordings, from her at P.O. Box 395, Jerome, AZ 86331.) Slim himself had this to say about the song: "To the old time cowboy the coming of the wire fences was the signal that the old days and the old ways had gone for good." Ed tells us he learned the song from Larry Hanks out in Berkeley, "a long time ago."

(Sandy Paton)

One day, when the barbed wire flings its band
Like a fisherman's net 'round the last rangeland,
The last round-up wagon will roll its way
To the last bedground, at the end of the day.
Lord, don't let me live to see.

The last remuda will jingle in
To the last corral, while the nightbirds sing.
The last cooking fire will flicker bright
By the dwarf mesquite on that round-up night.
Lord, where will that bedground be?

And then, in the morning, from tarp and tent,
The round-up crew, on their work intent,
Will answer the call of the wagon boss.
On the dew-wet range their circles cross.
Lord, where will those circles end?

The drive will come from flat and hill
And the cattle bawl while the irons grow chill,
And silent men watch the last herd go
While, notched in the hills, the sun sinks low.
Lord, how will you make amends?

The last round-up crew, the last wagon boss.
How will you measure the thing that is lost?
What will live on the grass-grown range?
All will be lost; what will be gained?
Lord, how will you comfort me?

©1992 Folk-Legacy Records, Inc. Sharon, Connecticut 06069
  Used by permission.