One of the top Western songs of all time.

Little Joe the Wrangler

Written by N. Howard “Jack” Thorpe, published in the November 1964 issue.

Oh, Little Joe, the wrangler, will wrangle never more
His days with the remuda they are o’er.
T’was a year ago last April when he rode up to our herd,
Just a little Texas stray and nothin’ more.

It was late in the evening, when he came upon our camp,
On a little Texas pony he called “Chaw.”
With his brogan shoes and overalls, a tougher lookin’ kid
No one ever in his lifetime really saw.

His saddle was a Texas kak, built many years ago,
And his O.K. spur from one foot lightly swung.
With his hot-roll in a cotton sack, so loosely tied behind,
And his canteen from his saddle-horn was hung.

He said he’d had to leave his home; his paw had married twice,
And his new maw whipped him every day or two–
So he saddled up old Chaw one night, and lit a shuck this way,
And now he’s trying to paddle his own canoe.

He said if we would give him work, he’d do the best he could,
Though he didn’t know straight up about a cow.
So the boss he kindly put him on, and cut him out a mount,
For we sorta liked that little kid somehow.

Well, he learned to wrangle horses, and to know them all by name,
And to get them in by daylight if he could;
And to follow the chuck wagon, and to always hitch the team,
And to help the cocinero rustle wood.

We was camped down on the Pecos, when the wind began to blow.
We doubled up our guard to hold them tight.
When the Norther came a-roaring, with thunder and with rain,
And the herd stampeded off into the night.

Then midst the streaks of lightning, we could see one horse ahead.
It was little Joe, the wrangler, in the lead.
He was riding old Blue Rocket, with a slicker o’er his head,
And a-trying to check the leaders in their speed.

At last we got them milling, and the danger it was past,
The extry guard back to the camp did go.
Then we noticed one was missing–and we all knew at a glance,
T’was our little Texas stray, poor Wrangler Joe.

Next morning just at daybreak, we found where Rocket fell,
Down in a washout twenty feet below.
Beneath his horse, mashed to a pulp–that spur had rung his knell,
Lay our little Texas stray, poor Wrangler Joe.


It is said that Thorpe wrote Little Joe, the Wrangler while trailing a herd of cattle from Chimney Lake, New Mexico to Higgins, Texas in 1898. Little Joe, the Wrangler has been sung over and over in cow camps for over a century and is listed as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time by the members of the Western Writers of America. It has been recorded by artists such as Marty Robbins, Don Edwards, Chris LeDoux and Red Steagall just to name a few.

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