What can you tell me about the classic cowboy song “Little Joe the Wrangler?”


What can you tell me about the classic cowboy song “Little Joe the Wrangler?” Orville Turner
Richwoods, Missouri


A cowboy named Jack Thorp wrote “Little Joe the Wrangler” in 1898 while helping trail a herd from Chimney Lake, New Mexico, to Higgins, Texas.

Sitting around the campfire one night he scribbled the words on an old paper bag. He knew the wrangler and decided to pen a song about him to the tune of “Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane.” His song began to circulate around the cattle camps after he sang it at a saloon in Weed, New Mexico. He first published it in his 1908 book Songs of the Cowboys.

In the lyrics Thorp writes, “we’d driven to Red River, the weather had been fine. We were camped down on the south side in a bend.” That’s when a norther started blowing, and the cattle stampeded. Little Joe met his end.

As songs like “Little Joe” and Curley Fletcher’s “Strawberry Roan” drifted around the West, the lyrics were often localized and adapted to another horse and location.

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