The Cowhand's Last Ride
Jimmie Rodgers Lyrics


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One dark and stormy night while riding down the line;
Railroad Bill, the engineer said, "Boy, we'll have to fly!"
We've got to be on time, to meet old Number Four.
So sling the coal, we'll make it, boy, or never ride no more.

While in the rear boxcar, a lonely hobo lay,
Heading for his mother dear, who on her death-bed lay;
He raised a weary hand, to brush away a tear,
Not knowing his last drive was run, and Fate was drawing near.

When through the darkened night, a headlight bright did gleam,
O'er the roar of rolling wheels, a whistle load did scream;
As down around the curve, the mighty train did roar,
With black smoke rolling from the stack, came Flyer Number Four.

Then came an awful crash! Their last long drive was run,
On the track the hobo lay, his days of life were done;




And as the golden sun, sank slowly to the west,
His dear old mother gently smiled, and closed her eyes in death.

Overall Meaning

"The Cowhand's Last Ride" by Jimmie Rodgers tells a tragic story of a cowhand's final journey on a train. The song paints a vivid picture of a dark and stormy night as the cowhand and the engineer, referred to as Railroad Bill, are racing against time to meet their destination. The urgency is emphasized by the engineer's command to "fly" and the determination to make it on time or "never ride no more."


Amidst this intense atmosphere, the attention shifts to a lonely hobo in the rear boxcar. He is traveling towards his dying mother, and as he raises a weary hand to wipe away a tear, he has no idea that his own fate is approaching. The song beautifully captures the poignancy of this moment, as the hobo is unaware that it will be his last drive, and that destiny is closing in on him.


Suddenly, through the darkness, a bright headlight gleams and a loud whistle pierces the air. The mighty train, referred to as Flyer Number Four, speeds down the track, its black smoke billowing from the stack. And then, in a tragic twist, there is a devastating crash. The hobo's final journey has come to an end, as he lies lifeless on the track. As the sun sets in the west, his dear old mother peacefully passes away, seemingly finding solace in the knowledge that her son is now at rest.


Line by Line Meaning

One dark and stormy night while riding down the line;
Under the cover of a dark and stormy night, the singer is traveling along the railroad.


Railroad Bill, the engineer said, "Boy, we'll have to fly!"
The engineer, known as Railroad Bill, instructs the singer to increase their speed.


We've got to be on time, to meet old Number Four.
It is crucial for them to arrive punctually and meet a train called Number Four.


So sling the coal, we'll make it, boy, or never ride no more.
In order to achieve their goal, they must give it their all and shovel coal with great effort.


While in the rear boxcar, a lonely hobo lay,
Inside the last freight car, a solitary hobo rests.


Heading for his mother dear, who on her death-bed lay;
He is on his way to be with his ailing mother.


He raised a weary hand, to brush away a tear,
Weary and emotionally drained, he wipes away a tear.


Not knowing his last drive was run, and Fate was drawing near.
Unaware that this would be his final journey and that destiny was approaching.


When through the darkened night, a headlight bright did gleam,
Suddenly, a bright headlight shines through the darkness of the night.


O'er the roar of rolling wheels, a whistle load did scream;
Above the noise of the moving train, a loud whistle is heard.


As down around the curve, the mighty train did roar,
The powerful train thunders around a bend.


With black smoke rolling from the stack, came Flyer Number Four.
Flyer Number Four approaches, emitting thick black smoke from its chimney.


Then came an awful crash! Their last long drive was run,
In a moment of horror, a catastrophic collision occurs, marking their final journey.


On the track the hobo lay, his days of life were done;
The hobo lies motionless on the tracks, his life brought to an end.


And as the golden sun, sank slowly to the west,
Simultaneously, the sun sets in the west, casting a golden glow.


His dear old mother gently smiled, and closed her eyes in death.
His beloved elderly mother peacefully smiles and passes away, embracing death.




Lyrics © O/B/O APRA AMCOS
Written by: CLARENCE SNOW

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind
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Comments from YouTube:

Gary Gillilan

ever since 1951 I*ve listened to jimmie.my very favorite c & w performer.

Gary Knighting

One has to wonder what his body of work would have been like if he had lived longer. There's no question in my mind he was the Bob Dylan of his era. I was glad to see Ken Burns give Jimmie so much attention in his "Country Music" documentary. More people probably became aware of his music and his legacy due to that than in the previous fifty years. It was also good to see Burns give credit to Jimmie's sister-in-law, Elsie McWilliams, for writing or co-writing a number of the songs (39 or 40, I think) that Jimmie recorded. A particular favorite of mine that she wrote is "Mississippi Moon". He was, and is, a national treasure.

Mason Martin

When country was real

William charbonneau

Found my home

Donna Mutter

William charbonneau welcome home

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