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Leaving Cheyenne



I have a new album out! Here are some details about the song "Leaving Cheyenne" the sixth track from the new release Trade Songs: American West. 



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In December of 2006 I moved from Laramie, Wyoming to Cheyenne, Wyoming after leaving college to go be a musician. In retrospect it was a good move, but at the time I was miserable. It was misery caused by many things, and I didn’t think that Cheyenne was a very fun place to be as a person in my early twenties.


I got a job at a local pizzeria, and did some work for a law firm disposing of old files. The law firm was right downtown Cheyenne, and they set me up in a conference room on the fourth or fifth floor of the building. From there, it was easy to spot all the old buildings against all the new buildings. The old west is never far away in Wyoming, but it was almost like I could see the city grow and crumble. How it had changed and remained. That was great job. It was the sort of unfocused work that a wandering mind enjoys. I could daydream about the history of that town and almost see the cowboys and steam locomotives passing through. What a place it must have been.


I sang this song to myself when I moved from Cheyenne to Denver in early 2007. It just looped in my head all week. I was headed to the big city, giving up the rural life. My parents still live in Cheyenne, and I still sing it when I’m leaving, though it’s more lighthearted now than it was back then. It’s so catchy. Once you know it, you’ll always know it.


This song is credited to Charley Willis, a Black cowboy and former slave who worked the cattle trails during the days of the big cattle drives. Anywhere between a quarter and a third of cowboys in the west were Black. Freed slaves found work in the west, especially slaves who had knowledge of horses and animals. Some of the most legendary cowboys such as famed rodeo rider Nat Love, Bill Pickett (who probably invented bulldogging), Bose Ikard who worked for Charles Goodnight, and of course Charley Willis who wrote this famous song. There is a fantastic museum in Denver devoted to the history of Black cowboys in the American West.


John Lomax and N. Howard “Jack” Thorpe included this song in their books of cowboy music both published in 1908



 

Leaving Cheyenne - Lyrics


Goodbye Old Paint I'm leaving Cheyenne

Goodbye Old Paint I'm leaving Cheyenne

I'm leaving Cheyenne I'm off to Montan'

Goodbye Old Paint I'm leaving Cheyenne


My foots in the stirrup the bridles in my hand

I’m riding Old paint I’m leaving Cheyenne

Goodbye Old Paint I’m Leaving Cheyenne

I’m leaving Cheyenne I’m off to Montan'


Goodbye Old Paint I’m Leaving Cheyenne

Old Paint's a good pony he paces when he can

Goodbye my darling I'm leaving Cheyenne

Goodbye Old Paint I’m Leaving Cheyenne

Goodbye Old Paint I’m Leaving Cheyenne


I’m riding Old paint I’m leading old fan

I’m leaving this city I’m bound for Montan’

Goodbye Old Paint I’m Leaving Cheyenne

I’m Leaving Cheyenne I’m off to Montan’

Goodbye Old Paint I’m Leaving Cheyenne


Go hitch up your horses and give them some hay

And seat yourself by me as long as you may

My horses ain't hungry they won't eat your hay

My wagon is loaded it rolling away

Goodbye Old Paint I'm leaving Cheyenne

Goodbye Old Paint I'm leaving Cheyenne

I'm Leaving Cheyenne I'm off to Montan'


Goodbye Old Paint I'm leaving Cheyenne

Goodbye Old Paint I'm leaving Cheyenne

Goodbye Old Paint I'm leaving Cheyenne

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