Strawberry Roan by Curly Fletcher (1892-1954)

I was hanging round town just wasting my time,
Out of a job and not making a dime.
When a feller steps up and says I suppose,
You’re a bronc rider by the looks of your clothes.

You figures me right, and a good one I claim.
Do you happen to have any bad ones to tame?
He says that I have and a bad one to buck
And at throwing good riders he’s had lots of luck.

Chorus: Oh, strawberry roan.
            Oh, that strawberry roan!
            They say he’s a chaious that’s never been rode,
            And the man that gets on him is sure to get throwed.
            Oh, strawberry roan!

Well, I gets all excited and asks what he’d pay,
To ride this old nag for a couple of day.
He offers a ten spot.  I says I’m your man,
For the bronc never lived that I couldn’t fan.

No, the bronc never lived, nor he never drew breath,
That I couldn’t ride till be starved plumb to death.
He says get your saddle.  I’ll give you a chance.
So we gets in the buckboard and rides for the ranch.

Chorus: Oh, strawberry roan.
            Oh, that strawberry roan!
            Early next morning, right after chuck,
            We goes out to see if his outlaw can buck.
            Oh, strawberry roan!

Down in the horse corral standing alone,
Was that old caballo, a strawberry roan.
He’s ewe-necked and old, with a long lower jaw.
You can see by one eye he’s a regular outlaw.

His legs were all spavin.  He had pigeon toes,
Two little pig eyes, a big Roman nose,
Little pin ears that touch at the tip,
And a big 44 run on his left hip.

Chorus: Oh, strawberry roan.
            Oh, that strawberry roan!
            I puts on my spurs and I’m sure feeling fine,
            Pulls down my hat and I coils up my twine.
            Oh, strawberry roan!

I piles my loop on him and well I know then,
That if he gets rode, I’ll sure earn my ten.
I gets the blinds on him.  It sure is a fight.
Next comes my saddle.  I screws her down tight.

Then I steps right up on him and raises the blinds.
I’m right in the middle to see him unwind.
He bowed his old neck and I guess he unwound.
He seemed to quit living down there on the ground.

Chorus: Oh, strawberry roan.
            Oh, that strawberry roan!
            I’ll tell you, no fooling, this pony can step,
            But I’m still in his middle a building my rep.
            Oh, strawberry roan!

Goes up towards the East and comes down toward the West,
To stay in his middle I’m doing my best.
He’s about the worst bucker I’ve seen on the range.
Turns on a nickel and gives you some change.

He turns his old belly right up to the sun.
Sure is a sun-fishing son of a gun.
And when he’s a bucking he squeals like a shoat.
I’ll tell you this pony has sure got my goat.

Chorus: Oh, strawberry roan.
            Oh, that strawberry roan!
            I loses my stirrup and also my hat.
            I starts pulling leather. I’m blind as a bat.
            Oh, strawberry roan!

With one mighty jump he goes up on high
And leaves me a sitting up there in the sky.
I turns over twice and comes back down to earth,
And lights in a cussing the day of his birth.

Now I know there are ponies that I cannot ride.
Some of them’s living, they haven’t all died.
But I’ll bet all my money the man ain’t alive
That can stay with old strawberry when he makes – his – high – dive.


Written from memory mostly… as sung primarily by Jean Harvey in the Harvey Ranch kitchen back in the early 1960’s, Oakdale, California, and later once sung by the camp cook (name unknown) at the Kerrick Corral pack station, summer of 1965, above Sonora, California.

And here is a taste of the tune (without a chorus) as presented by Wilf Carter:

— Joe Duncanson – 13 November, 2010