This is the sad story of a cowboy who’s gone wrong and is going to his grave, and the companions who still bear him in their hearts. The melody is from an old Irish song, The Unfortunate Rake (which, by the way, was also the inspiration for that New Orleans Blues standard, St James Infirmary.)
THE STREETS OF LAREDO
As I walked out in the streets of Laredo,
As I walked out in Laredo one day,
I spied a young cowboy wrapped up in white linen,
Wrapped up in white linen and cold as the clay.
“I see by your outfit, that you are a cowboy,”
These words he did say as I slowly passed by.
“Come sit down beside me and hear my sad story,
For I’m shot in the chest, and I’m dying today.
“So beat the drums slowly and play the pipe lowly
Play the death march as you carry me along.
Take me to the green valley, there lay the sod o’er me.
I am a young cowboy and I know I’ve done wrong.
“Once in the saddle I used to go dashing,
Once in the saddle I used to go gay.
First to the cardhouse* & then down to Rosie’s,
But I’m shot in the breast and I’m dying today.
“Bring 16 tall cowboys to carry my casket,
Bring 10 pretty women to sing me along.
Take me to the green valley, there lay the sod o’er me
For I’m a poor cowboy and know I’ve done wrong.”
We beat the drums slowly and played the pipe lowly
We played the death march as we carried him along
For we all loved our comrade, so brave, young and handsome
We all loved our comrade although he done wrong.
* Corrected 6/4/15 thanks to a reader. BTW, I never thought “courthouse” made any sense.