Music and Ethnomusicology and American West

$24.95 paperback

Add to Cart

Jack Thorp's Songs of the Cowboys

Edited by Mark Gardner
Illustrated by Ronald Kil

In 1908 a local rancher and surveyor by the name of N. Howard "Jack" Thorp walked into the cramped offices of the Estancia News in Estancia, New Mexico, and inquired of the printer about publishing a small book of "cowboy songs." For at least nineteen years, Thorp had sought out cowboy ballads and poems from across the West—from New Mexico and Texas to Wyoming and Utah—and had written a few ditties himself. The finished volume, printed for just six cents a copy, included twenty-three songs and was the first book published devoted exclusively to cowboy songs. Thorp is recognized for being the first person to take a serious interest in collecting and preserving the ballads penned by ranchers to calm cattle on the range. This new edition of an oft-reprinted classic features an essay by Western historian and musician Mark L. Gardner and line illustrations by noted Western artist and rancher Ronald Kil. Included with the book is a CD of a recording of a selection of songs and poems taken from both the original 1908 edition and the 1921 expanded second edition. In their renditions, Gardner and Rex Rideout re-create the historic music preserved by Thorp with vintage instruments and authentic styles.


Mark L. Gardner is a professional historian, author, and musician, with a broad range of publications—both popular and scholarly—focusing on the American West. He has written several books for the National Park Service, including George Armstrong Custer: A Biography.

Ronald Kil is a working cowboy and respected Western artist. He is best known for his illustrations for an award-winning Children of the West Series authored by Marc Simmons.


"Historian Mark Gardner demonstrates a deep knowledge of cowboy folk music. . . . The entire package is exquisite and delightful."


New Mexico Historical Review

Published By Museum of New Mexico Press

6.75 x 10 in. 88 pages 8 line art drawings, audio CD