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Red Steagall

Dear Mama, I'm a Cowboy – 1997 (Warner Western)

Reviewed by Paula Williams

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CDs by Red Steagall

There are a handful of sub-genres within cowboy music: classic singing cowboys who could have been - and were - pop crooners have certainly made cowboy music famous, but how easily we forget about "real" cowboy music, that made by folks who spend their lives on the ranch. Red Steagall is such a cowboy, and the difference is obvious in the feel of the music and in the lyrics, both of which call to mind Tom Russell or Ian Tyson before Riders in the Sky or Gene Autry.

Take the title track, a tale of a man writing to his mother, regretting having broken her heart for becoming a cowboy. Tears before corny jokes here. The spoken tales of "The Blue Roan and the Kid" or "Failure" do offer morals similar to Autry's "Cowboy Commandments," but even they involve more life experience than any Autry tune. The only cover, Bob Campbell's "Texas Moon," seems a perfect end to this fine work from the Official Cowboy Poet of Texas.