Boiled Shirt and Cowboy Boots
This chapter describes the recordings of Jess Morris, a classically trained violinist and former cowboy living in Dalhart, Texas, who played at ranch dances throughout the Panhandle. Jess lived many of the realities that Gene Autry portrayed on the movie screen. Like the wide open spaces Autry traversed by projectionist's lamp, Jess knew firsthand the unbroken range of the Texas Panhandle, the last of the long-distance cattle drives, and the all-night ranch dances reachable only by horse-drawn wagon. He also embodied a cultural breadth that exceeds cinematic stereotype. His community remembered him especially for “Goodbye, Old Paint,” a song he learned in childhood. It became his signature number, one that he copyrighted and published. His contribution to the piece mattered to him to the end of his life as he waited anxiously for its release on a Library of Congress album of cattle calls and cowboy songs.
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