I was hanging around town just spending my time
Out of a job and not earning a dime
When a fellow walks up and he says, “I suppose
You’re a bronc rider by the looks of your clothes.”

“You got me right, and a good one,” I claim.
“Do you happen to have any bad ones to tame?”
He says, “I got one that’s real bad to buck.
At throwing bronc riders she’s had lots of luck.”

That’s the first verse of an old cowboy song
My grandpa sang to me when I was young
About a nameless bronc rider loitering alone
Who’ll live on forever in the Strawberry Roan.

History is written in the names of the dead
And the stories and songs that lived in their heads
But the dead travel lightly and leave too much on earth
It’ll fall to your lot, son, to say what it’s all worth

For the world won’t remember a worn-out oldĀ  man
With fingers missing from both of his hands
Profane and snuff-stained from his ears to his chin
I gave you his name, son, I’d do it again

Born in Jack County in 1904
Of years on this earth he had six and four score
He knew nothing but labor til he drew his last breath
He cut the grass in the graveyard where his old bones now rest

He picked cotton in Borger, roughnecked in Rotan
Busted horses in Electra on the Waggoner Ranch
Raised half a county, though no kids of his own
And sometimes he’d sing me the Strawberry Roan

He loved Louis L’Amour and Cartwrights on TV
Was hell on machinery and scared to death of bees
Set his watch by the clock of Joe Do-it-up Brown
And remembered when the place where we lived was a town

On the day that he died we went through his oldĀ  house
There was nothing worth keeping, so we threw it all out
As I was driving back to Missouri alone
I remembered the words to the Strawberry Roan

Sometimes at night when the house is so still
And the moonlight lays out across your windowsill
I stand in the doorway and I watch you asleep
And think of the promises I have to keep

I have little to offer in the way of history
It’s just you and your mama, your sister and me
Making things up as we go it alone
So under my breath I sing the Strawberry Roan