“He was found at the foot of Red Mesa
With his neck broke and horse run away.
We found nothing to say what his name was
And we buried him right there that day.
“Yeah, we brought back his spurs and belt buckle
And we left him the clothes on his back.
There was nothing else on him to speak of;
Oh, just trinkets in this leather sack.”
So he fished in his pocket and found it,
Cut the knot off the tie with his knife,
And we looked at the trinkets exposed there
That said nothing about the man's life.
Just a thin curl of hair that was reddish
And a blackened hard lump of some goo,
With a tattered old scrap of a ribbon
And a tintype that's broke near in two.
So we tossed all that junk in the dust bin
And we headed on out for a ride.
He was just an old wandering cowboy
Somehow fell from his horse and he died.
Well, what else can you say 'bout a stranger
Who has nothing to show for his time
But a leather pouch full of some old stuff
That's worthless and covered with grime?
But the fate of that cowboy stayed with me
And I asked the good lord for a clue.
At the next chance I went to the dust bin
Where I fished out that lump of black goo.
There I scraped at it hard with my knife blade
And I found it was silver inside;
An old locket and chain that was melted
And then blackened as some fire died.
That old lump of black silver, it touched me.
Sometimes things can mean more than they seem.
So I stared at it each night 'fore sleeping
And on one night it brought me this dream:
He was standing alone at a barn dance
When a gal dressed in yellow swirled by
And she smiled at him oh so sweetly
That she totally captured his eye.
So he worked on the courage to ask her
(If she'd grace him with just one more glance)
Yeah, he'd ask her if maybe, just maybe
Would she spare him the time for a dance?
Well, that one dance it led to another
And he asked for a date further on.
She just gave him a small yellow ribbon
To remember her while he was gone.
They were married and marked the occasion
With a tintype in their wedding clothes.
Then he gave her a small silver locket
And he called her his West Texas Rose.
Nine months later she gave him a baby
Such a beautiful red-headed girl.
He decided to keep a reminder
So he cut off just one thin red curl.
He was out hunting deer for the winter
When some outlaws attacked their homestead.
When he got back, he found mostly ashes
And his wife and his daughter were dead.
He dug graves near the vegetable garden
And he covered them over with stone,
Put her locket with his other treasures
To remember when he was alone.
When I woke from that dream I was crying
For the baby and Rose up above,
And I hurt for that wandering cowboy
Who had lost everything he could love.
We had judged by his only possessions
'Cause we didn't know him or his pain.
He was just an old Wandering Cowboy
Somehow died on the west Texas plain.