> Peter Bellamy > Songs > The Santa Fe Trail

The Santa Fe Trail

[ Roud 5096 ; Ballad Index Ohr085 ; Mudcat 17944 ; James Grafton Rogers (1911)]

The Santa Fe Trail is “an authentic cowboy song collected by John Lomax.” Peter Bellamy learned it from Lisa Null who sang it on her and Bill Shute’s album American Primitive. (He sang chorus vocals on this album too but not on this track.)

There are three known recordings of The Santa Fe Trail by Peter Bellamy: on his 1983 cassette orf English, Irish, Australian and American traditional songs, Fair Annie, a previously unreleased session recording with Steve Tilston from 1989 on his 1999 anthology Wake the Vaulted Echoes, and a live recording at the Cockermouth Folk Club in January 1991 on his cassette Songs an’ Rummy Conjurin’ Tricks.

Jolly Jack sang The Santa Fe Trail in 1988 on their Fellside album A Long Time Travelling. They noted:

From the singing of Bill Shute and Lisa Null on their album American Primitive (1980), this version of a song published in 1911 had been taken into the oral tradition and later appeared in Alan Lomax’s Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads (1969).

From 1821 until the Santa Fe Railroad was completed in 1880, the wagon trail from Independence, Missouri, to Santa Fe, New Mexico, was used by commercial wagon caravans, at it’s along here that the cowboy dreams of meeting his perfect woman. Riding alongside the schooner or covered wagon, in which her parents travelled, this bronzed vision is a far cry from the reality of the frontier town ‘ladies’.

Ian Robb sang The Santa Fe Trail on his 1994 CD From Different Angels. He noted:

The Santa Fe Trail is an ersatz but irresistibly charming cowboy song written in 1911 by a lawyer, James Grafton Rogers, who later became a big wheel in the depression era Hoover administration. He should probably have stuck to writing songs. Learned from Peter [Bellamy], with bits from Utah’s Deseret String Band.

Brian Peters and Gordon Tyrrall sang The Santa Fe Trail in 2000 on their duo CD The Moving Moon.

Jon Boden sang Santa Fe Trail as the 22 October 2010 entry of his project A Folk Song a Day.

Damien Barber and Mike Wilson sang Santa Fe Trail in 2011 on their CD The Old Songs.


Peter Bellamy sings The Santa Fe Trail

Tell me friend, have you sighted a schooner
Alongside of the Santa Fe Trail?
And it may got here Monday or sooner,
Had a water keg tied to the tail.
There was a Pa and a Ma on the mule-seat,
But somewheres along on the way
Was a tow-headed gal on a pinto
Just a-jangling for old Santa Fe,
    Yo-ho! Yo-ho!
Just a-jangling for old Santa Fe.

But I seen them come down the arroyo
As we crossed on them Arkansas sand,
She had smiles like acres of sunflowers,
Held a quirt in her little brown hand.
And she mounted her pinto so airy
And she rode like she carried the mail,
And her eyes near set fire to the prairie
Alongside of the Santa Fe Trail,
    Yo-ho! Yo-ho!
Alongside of the Santa Fe Trail.

Well, I once knew a gal on the border
Who I’d ride to El Paso to sight;
I have danced in some high-steppin’ order,
And I’ve sometimes kissed some girls goodnight;
But Lord, they’re all ruffles and beading
And they drink fancy tea by the pail,
I’m not used to that kind of stampeding
Alongside of the Santa Fe Trail,
    Yo-ho! Yo-ho!
Alongside of the Santa Fe Trail.

Well, I don’t know her name on the prairie,
When you are hunting one girl it’s so wide,
And it’s shorter from hell to hilary
Than it is on that Santa Fe ride.
But I’ll try and reach Plummers by sundown
Where a camp can be made in the swale,
Then I’ll come on that gal with her pinto
Alongside of the Santa Fe Trail,
    Yo-ho! Yo-ho!
Alongside of the Santa Fe Trail.