Way Up High in the Sirie Petes by Gail I Gardner (1892-1988)

Also Known As Tying Knots in the Devil’s Tail.

Sirie Petes (Sierra Peaks) just means mountain peaks. The Story centers about Prescott Arizona’s famous Whiskey Row, once a notorious strip of Cowboy saloons. At one time 40 saloons, beginning with the Kentucky Bar and ending at the Depot House. This is the way I heard it sung some 50 years ago at the Harvey ranch in the foothills of the California Sierras.


Way up high in the Sirie Petes, where the yellow jack pines grow tall,
Ol Sage Brush Sam an Buster Gigs had a roundup way last fall.

They took their horses and their running irons and maybe a dog or two,
And they swore they’d brand any long eared calve that came within their view.

And any little dogie with flop-long ears that didn’t get up by day,
Got his long ears chiseled and his old hide sizzled in a most artistic way.

Says Sage Brush Sam to Buster Gigs as he flopped his long legs down,
I’m tired of cow-pie-ography and I reckon I’ll jog for town.

So they saddled up and hit a smart right lope, for it weren’t no sight of a ride,
For them was the days when a good cowpoke could oil up his inside.

They started out at Kentucky Bar and at the end of Whiskey Row,
They ended up sometime that nigh some forty drinks below.

Then they set her up and turned around and started in the other way.
Honest to goodness to tell you the truth, them boys got stewed that day.

They headed back for the Sirie Petes, a pak’in a damn good load,
But who should they meet but the devil himself, come prancin down the road.

Confound you ornery cowboy skunks, you’d better hunt your holes,
For I am the devil from hell’s brim rock, and I’ve come to take your souls.

Devil be damned says Buster Gigs, we know we’re kinda tight,
But before you corral any cowboy souls, you’ll have one hell of a fight.

So he built him a loop and throwed it straight, it spun down good and true,
He roped this devil by the pitted horns and took his dallies too.

Now Sage Brush Sam was a lariat man, with his gut line coiled up neat,
He built him a loop and laid him a trap and came up with the devil’s hind feet.

They stretched him out and laid him down while the sizzlin irons grew hot,
They trimmed his horns with a de-horn saw and branded him a lot.

They tied 10 knots in the ol boys tail and left him for a joke.
They both loped as he bellered and coughed, snubbed up to a black jack oak.

Now if you’re ever up in the Sirie Petes and you hear that awful wail,
You’ll know it’s the devil from hells brim rock with the knots tied in his tail.

If you’re ever up high in the Sierry Petes, an’ you hear one hell of a wail,
You’ll know it’s that Devil a bellering about them knots in his tail.


Those are the words as I recall from many years ago. But if you are a wondering,
here’s a site that claims to tell it right with Gail’s original words:

And here are a couple tastes of the tune with a bit of history as presented by
Ramblin’ Jack Elliot: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AeCTknumIak&feature=related
and Chris Ledoux: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GvQeaR4c6Yk&feature=related.

— Joe Duncanson – 13 October, 2010