Desert Blues
Jimmie Rodgers Lyrics


Jump to: Overall Meaning ↴  Interesting Facts ↴  Line by Line Meaning ↴

Way out on the windswept desert where nature favors no man
The buffalo found his brother at rest on the sun-baked sand
He said, my brother, what ails you? Has sickness got you this way?
But his brother never said, for his brother was dead
Been dead since way last May

(yodel) Oh-de-lay-ee, ah-ee. oh-ay-ee
Here’s to Chief Big Buffalo Nickel, a mighty man in his day
Never once used a sickle to clear the bushes away
He would go ‘round from tent to tent, eat everything in sight
He loved a squaw, every one he saw
He loved a new one every night

(yodel) Oh-de-lay-ee, ah-ee. oh-ay-ee

Last night on the windswept desert I heard a big Indian moan
I left my tent, I knew what it meant, and I swore I’d never more roam
It was dawn when I reached safety, my legs were certainly sore
I must of lost fifty pounds on that hot desert ground
And I’d lose that many more





(yodel) Oh-de-lay-ee, ah-ee, oh-ay-ee-ee-day-ee-ee

Overall Meaning

The song "Desert Blues" by Jimmie Rodgers tells the story of a buffalo who finds his brother dead in the desert. The buffalo's brother is unable to explain what happened to him as he has been dead since the previous May. This verse emphasizes the unforgiving nature of the desert, with the implication that death can come suddenly and without warning. The use of the buffalo as a character highlights the importance of nature and the land to the Indigenous people who lived in the area.


The second verse celebrates a historical figure, Chief Big Buffalo Nickel, who was known for his strength and prowess. However, his promiscuity is also highlighted as he is said to have loved a new squaw every night. This verse highlights the importance of storytelling and oral tradition in Indigenous culture, as well as the importance of community and leadership.


The final verse is a personal reflection of the singer's experience in the desert. The mention of a big Indian moan implies danger and tragedy, leading the singer to pledge never to roam the desert again. The physical toll of surviving the harsh conditions is emphasized, with the suggestion that the singer lost fifty pounds in the process. This verse highlights the dangers of the desert and the importance of survival skills.


Some interesting facts about the song "Desert Blues" include:


Interesting Facts
Note: This section uses generative AI, which can be inaccurate.


Line by Line Meaning

Way out on the windswept desert where nature favors no man
The desert is unforgiving and doesn't discriminate, making it a difficult place to live.


The buffalo found his brother at rest on the sun-baked sand
The buffalo stumbled upon his deceased brother lying in the hot sand.


He said, my brother, what ails you? Has sickness got you this way?
The buffalo asked his brother if he was sick and causing him to lay there.


But his brother never said, for his brother was dead, Been dead since way last May
The buffalo's brother couldn't respond because he had been dead for a while.


(yodel) Oh-de-lay-ee, ah-ee. oh-ay-ee
A yodeling interlude with no lyrics.


Here’s to Chief Big Buffalo Nickel, a mighty man in his day
A toast to Chief Big Buffalo Nickel, a respected leader in his prime.


Never once used a sickle to clear the bushes away
Chief Big Buffalo Nickel never used a tool or instrument to clear the way for himself or others to travel through nature.


He would go ‘round from tent to tent, eat everything in sight
He would visit different tents and consume all the food he could find.


He loved a squaw, every one he saw, He loved a new one every night
Chief Big Buffalo Nickel was known for his promiscuity and constantly seeking new lovers.


(yodel) Oh-de-lay-ee, ah-ee. oh-ay-ee
Another yodeling interlude with no lyrics.


Last night on the windswept desert I heard a big Indian moan
The singer heard a loud noise that sounded like an Indian crying on the desert.


I left my tent, I knew what it meant, and I swore I’d never more roam
The artist quickly left his tent after hearing the noise, realizing he had to leave the dangerous desert and never come back.


It was dawn when I reached safety, my legs were certainly sore
The singer made it out of the desert by morning but was physically exhausted.


I must of lost fifty pounds on that hot desert ground, And I’d lose that many more
The singer lost a lot of weight while struggling to survive in the desert and was likely to lose more if he stayed there.


(yodel) Oh-de-lay-ee, ah-ee, oh-ay-ee-ee-day-ee-ee
A final yodeling interlude with no lyrics.




Contributed by Claire A. Suggest a correction in the comments below.
To comment on or correct specific content, highlight it

Genre not found
Artist not found
Album not found
Song not found
Comments from YouTube:

Janet McCann

Love Jimmie Rodgers and Big Chief Buffalo Nickel. A mighty man of his day!

MariaTeresa Mondragon

My father used to sing this song to me when putting me to bed at night, over 60 years ago. I don't recall him singing the part about loving a different squaw every night and he didn't yodel. Thank you for the memories.

Mmo Mm

Thank you for these songs note and ask this car how much model and do I find like it

Gunnar Anderson

Ford model A Phaeton. They're fairly scarce.

WolfyGladly: The Cop Baiter

This song is bad a** !!!

Ron Gould

Worst instrumental solos on record.

James Phillips

Refugees from the Gong Show!

Stevo 58

@James Phillips The Gong Show band was made of top LA studio musicians, including the great Tommy Tedesco on guitar - who also appeared as a contestant, wearing a pink tutu.

More Versions