Tuesday, April 23, 2024



Ron, Tim et al in the US, here is an American item in the nature of the Australian bush poets and reminiscent of The Devil Went Down to Georgia, Tim’s neck of the woods.

It is called Tying Knots in the Devil’s Tail and is an original poem by Gail Gardner set to music by Michael Martin Murphy and his band in Red River, New Mexico. Hear him tell the story of the poem and hear him and his boys sing it by clicking on:

I admit it scans better as a song than as a poem but it is a bit of fun.

"Tying Knots In The Devil's Tail"

Oh, way up high in the Sierra Peaks
Where the yellow jack pines grow tall
Sandy Bob and Buster Jiggs
Had a round-up camp last fall
They're takin' their ponies and they're runnin' irons
Maybe a dog or two
And they allowed their brand on every long-eared calf
That come within their view

Now many a long-eared dogie
That didn't hush up that day
Had his ol' ears whittled and his ol' hide sizzled
In the most artistic way
Now, Sandy Bob, he said one day
As he throwed his cigar down
I'm tired of this cowography
And all else, I'm goin' to town

Well, they saddled their ponies and they struck them a load
And how them boys can ride
And them was the days that an ol' cowboy
Could oil up his ol' insides
Well, it started out at the Kentucky bar
At the head of the whiskey row
And they wound up down at the depot house
About forty drinks below

Well, they set 'em up and they turned them around
And they went the other way
And I'll swear the godforsaken truth
Them boys got drunk that day
They mounted up and they headed to camp
And they's packin' a pretty good load
When who should they meet, but the Devil himself
Come prancin' down the road

Well, the Devil said, "You ornery skunks
You better hunt your holes
'Cause I'm the Devil from Hell's Rim Rock
Come to gather in your souls"
Sandy Bob said, "Devil be damned
It may be a little bit tight
Before you gather any cowboy souls
You gonna have a hell of a fight"

He swung his rope and he swung it straight
He also swung it true
He caught the devil by both his horns
And taken his dallies too
Now Buster Jiggs was a lariat man
With his rawhide coiled up neat
He shook it out and built him a loop
And he latched the Devil's hind feet

Well, they stretched him out and they tailed him down
And the irons was gettin' hot
They cropped and swallow-forked his ears
And they branded him up a lot
And they left him there in the Sierra Peaks
Necked to a black-jack oak
But before they left, they tied some knots
In his tail just for a joke

So if you're ever up there in Sierra Peaks
And you hear one hell of a wail
It's just the Devil
A feller and a thousand knots tied in his tail

As Murphy says in his background commentary, the Devil had horns, hooves and a tail so they rope him and brand him, even tie knots in his tail as a playful joke. They leave the Devil in the Sierra Peaks, bellowing, tied to an oak by his neck.

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