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Colorado Morton at No Depression

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Pen and ink drawing of a man riding a bucking horse
This drawing by Leslie Stewart of a cowboy riding bucking hose reminds us of “Colorado Morton’s Ride”: “He wouldn’t do nothing but stand on his ear, and buck and sidewind, and pitch and rear.” This is a photo by Carl Fleischhauer of the original drawing. Find the archival scan here.

As regular readers of Folklife Today will know, we’ve been working with No Depression, The Journal of Roots Music, which is published by the nonprofit Freshgrass Foundation. They’re publishing a column called Roots in the Archive, featuring content from the American Folklife Center and Folklife Today. Find the series at this link, over at their website!

The latest Roots in the Archive column is about “Colorado Morton’s Ride” (sometimes known as “Colorado Morton’s Last Ride”), a poem written by a Pulitzer Prize winner and a Montana cowboy, and recited at a migrant worker camp in 1941, where it was recorded by Library of Congress folklorists Charles Todd and Robert Sonkin. We first told the story here on the blog back in 2014, and you can read that post here. More recently, we featured it on the Folklife Today podcast, in an episode you can find here. In doing the podcast research I turned up a few more facts about the cowboy author Rivers Browne, so the story over at No Depression has a couple more details than the previous written version.

So if you’re curious how a Pulitzer Prize winner from Rhode Island met up with a Buckaroo from Montana (who happened to have been born in India as the son of a British Army General), and if you wonder how the poem and its reciter were connected to the great photographer Dorothea Lange and the novelist John Steinbeck, it’s time to surf on over to this link at No Depression!


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