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When the Work's All Done Next Fall

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


One of the biggest dangers on the cattle trails was a stampede. Herds of cattle were easily spooked by coyotes, thunder and lightning, hailstorms, and many other things. Cowboys would stay up and watch the cows at night. They would ride slowly around the herd to let the cows know they were there and try to help them feel safe. Many cowboy songs are little lullabies or soft repetitive songs meant to keep cows from becoming agitated.

Sometimes, however, that stampede was unavoidable. Cows would jump up and start running, and because of the herd mentality all the other cows would follow. They would scramble suddenly, and a cowboy who was not on his horse could be trampled. Once a stampede began, the cowboys tried to ride to the front and herd the lead cows around until they were running to the back of the herd, essentially creating a circle. At that point the cows would get confused and stop their running, start milling about and they could get them bedded down again.

It was an incredibly dangerous endeavor. Horses stumbled in the dark on the rough terrain. Cowboys fell off their horse, in all the chaos. It was a primary danger to all cowboys and usually happened in bad weather which made the situation even more perilous. Once the herd stopped running it could take up to several days to get everyone back together and on the way again.

There were a lot of songs about stampedes and their aftermath. This is a particularly sad one since the cowboy in the story was hoping to be done with the cowboy life and head home after the drive was over.


When the Work's All Done Next Fall - Lyrics

A group of jolly cowboys discussing plans at ease

Says one I'll tell you something if you would listen please

I am an old cow-puncher I'm here all dressed in rags

I used to be a tough one and go on great big jags

I have got a home boys and a good one you all know

Although I haven't seen it since many long ago

I'm headed back to Dixie once more to see them all

I'm going to see my mother when the work's all done this fall

When I left my home, boys my mother for me cried

She begged me not to go boys for me she would have died

My mother's heart is breaking, breaking for me that's all

With God's help I'll see her when the work's all done this fall"

This very night this cowboy went out to stand his guard

The night was dark and cloudy 'twas storming very hard

The cattle they got frightened and rushed in wild stampede

The cowboys tried to head them while riding at full speed

While riding in the darkness so loudly he did shout

Trying his best to head them and turn the herd about

His saddle horse did stumble and on him it did fall

The boy'll not see his mother when the work's all done this fall

"Send my ma my wages boys, the wages I have earned

I am so afraid boys, the last steer I have turned

I'm going to a new range I hear my Master's call

I'll not see my mother when the work's all done this fall

George you take my saddle, Bill, you take my bed

Jack you take my pistol after I am dead

Think of me kindly when you look upon them all

For I'll not see my mother when the work's all done this fall"

Poor Charlie was buried at sunrise no tombstone for his head

Nothing but a little board, and this is what it said

"Charlie died at daybreak, he died from a fall

and will not see his mother when the work's all done this fall"

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