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RAY KRAFT

 

 

I'm as big a fan of Nolan as there's ever been - I do about thirty or forty of his songs - and most of whatever I know about songwriting I learned from the Bob Nolan songs, later from Ian Tyson and Marty Robbins, and Cole Porter.  I wrote "Silver Spurs," which you may have heard, on Great American Cowboy by the Sons of the San Joaquin.

 

One of my fondest dreams is to, someday, record a CD box set of the Songs of Bob Nolan, all or most of them.  They're way too good to lose.

 

Several years ago Jim Bob Tinsley published an intro to Tumbling Tumbleweeds that he attributed to Bob Nolan - words, no music. The well-known intro, "I'm a roving cowboy, ridin' all day long, etc." he attributed to an unknown studio author. He said he had found in the Nolan archives the following lyrics -

 

"Days may be dreary

still I'm not weary

my heart needs no consoling

at each break of dawn

you'll know that I'm gone

like old tumbleweeds

I'm rolling . . .

 

See them tumbling down

pledging their love to the ground . . . etc."

 

        I immediately, intuitively, decided that the common intro, "I'm a rovin' cowboy," was not Bob's, it didn't feel like  him, and Tinsley's discovery, "Days may be weary, still I'm not weary . . ." rang true. I also, almost immediately and intuitively, produced a melody for it that seems to me to be exactly what Bob would have written, with a 1 / 3 / 4 chord progression, and have been singing this intro ever since.

        Also, an interesting experience: Some years ago was visiting some friends. My friend had been, she said, a big Bob Nolan fan since his days in the movies. Of course I broke out the guitar and was doing a few songs.
        About halfway through "You Are My Eyes," I noticed she looked different, she was looking past me, her mouth had dropped open a bit, and she looked a little pale. I kept singing, and when done I asked, "What happened there? You looked, uh, different."
        She said, "I saw Bob Nolan. He was standing right behind you. He was smiling."

 


 

~ Ray's Lyrics ~

 

Ain't No Last Cowboys (where I'm From)

All the Way from Winnemucca

Anna Marie

Benediction

Callin' Me Home

Comin' Home

Dance with the Devil

Distant Thunder Laughing

Down in the Willows

Dream of Christmas

The Eyes of the Eagle

How About You

If You Fell in Love with Me

I Know it's Not Tequila

I've Been to Heaven

Las noches encantadas (Enchanted Nights)

Legends of the West

Lucky

Maybe It's Paradise

Nothin'

One More Crazy Cowboy Dream

A Pretty Good Cowboy

Renegados

Ruby Mountain Morning

Santa Claus Sings

She'll Do (to Ride the River With)

Silver Spurs

Some Christmas Eve

Song for Bob Nolan

The Spirit of Christmas

A Toast for Christmas

Tequila, My Friend

That Great Old Glory

Thunderstorms of Summer

The Trails I Love

The Way She's S'posed to Be

Who Could Love You Any More?

The Wind Burnt Men

The Wolf in the Water

 


 

 

Driving across the Mojave one night, great white owl flew across just in front of my windshield, the moon was full and the desert blue, and I composed this "Song for Bob Nolan."  Here are the words:

 

 

 SONG FOR BOB NOLAN

Ray Kraft

 

Blue moon

on the Mojave

autumn chill

in the air

white owl

wingin' so softly

I feel

your spirit there

 

Timber sighs

in the Sierra

summer storm

in the sky

rainbow rim

over the meadow

I see

you passin' by

 

They say, when a man

rides his last long trail

over the hills

to the West

that his heart

will roam eternity

in the places he

loves the best

 

In the voice

of the prairie

in the hush

of the snow

in the song

of the campfire

I hear

you singin' low

 

I hear you

singin' low.

 

 

 

 

 

That Great Old Glory

Ray Kraft

 

A hush fell in the tavern

as a cowboy we all know

came through the door

stepped up to the bar and said

My friends, we've all been

seen in here before

but today's a special day

got a letter that I hoped

I'd never get

brung me by a Sergeant Major

and the first words that I see

are, I regret

 

Well I can't make out the rest

but I think we all know

what it means

sent my boy to be a soldier

just a couple days ago

or so it seems

and he won't be comin' home

and friends, a part of me

has died

but I'm proud of what he done

and I can feel him standin'

right here by my side

 

At Valley Forge

at Gettysburg

at Normandy, Khe San

the Alamo

and once more

in the sand

a line is drawn

and the warriors

of America

will fight

and some will die

to keep that Great Old Glory

waiving proudly

in the sky

 

I've another letter here

that I recieved

only yesterday

says, Dad, the foe is many

and we're spoilin for a fight

now any day

and if I'm among the fallen

our lives we gladly lived

and proudly gave

it's a price we pay for freedom

just remember

when you see Old Glory waive

 

At Valley Forge

at Gettysburg

at Normandy, Khe San

the Alamo

and once more

in the sand

a line is drawn

and the warriors

of America

will fight

and some will die

to keep that Great Old Glory

waiving proudly

in the sky

 

Can't you see

that Great Old Glory

waiving proudly

in the sky!

 

 

 

 

 

Silver Spurs  ("Silver Spurs" recording by the Sons of the San Joaquin)

Ray Kraft

 

When I was a boy

nights in the winters back home

mother would take from the mantle

a picture she owned

of a handsome young cowboy

and her, on their weddin' day

silver spurs on his heels

that he wore when he rode away

 

And she'd sing

rowels that ring

like bells in the night

silver spurs flashing

in Utah moonlight

hoofbeats that echo

out over the hills

songs in the stars

a memory that fills

my heart with the

ring of his spurs

 

Well I grew and I loved the wild horses

and drifted away

out on the road alone

livin' the rodeo way

won me a buckle on a buckskin

in Lander last spring

just floatin' and hearin'

the old song mother would sing

 

Rowels that ring

like bells in the night

silver spurs flashing

in Utah moonlight

hoofbeats that echo

out over the hills

songs in the stars

a memory that fills

my heart with the

ring of his spurs

 

As I walked back a crippled old cowboy

came down to the chutes

seventy years in his eyes

silver spurs on his boots

says, Son, that's the prettiest ridin'

I've seen in awhile

as he blinks back a tear in his eye

and he choked on a smile

 

I rode with your dad in the gather

the day that he died

up north of Jarbridge

just over the Idaho side

rolled under a young buckskin stud

he was startin' to train

slipped on a hill in the mud

in a September rain

 

The last words he whispered to me

as I knelt by his side,

Ya know, Jack, I'd give anything

just to see my boy ride

these were your father's

you've earned 'em and now son they're yours

as he took from his heels

and handed me these silver spurs

 

Rowels that ring

like bells in the night

silver spurs flashing

in Utah moonlight

hoofbeats that echo

out over the hills

songs in the stars

a memory that fills

my heart with the

ring of his spurs.

 

 

 

 

 

Legends of the West

Ray Kraft

 

Quiet men, ridin' again

as they've ridden

ten thousand times or more

mist risin' o'er the plains

a flick of wrist and reins

dawn dancin' in the hills

moon swingin' low

 

See by their side

a thousand legends ride

cowboys who had ridden long ago

firelight on yellow slickers

in the darkness gleams and flickers

spurs and snaffles rattle

cattle trailin' slow

 

In the coulees

in the cottonwoods

deep within their hearts

Legends of the West

each rider knows

 

Old songs around old campfires

chinooks in the trees

wild horses in the mountains

hoofbeats in the breeze

 

Gunfighters, bronc riders

wild Nevada buckaroos

lawmen, and outlaws

old soldiers on the booze

Red men ridin' trails of tears

madams who've seen better years

gamblers, long trappers

and old pioneers

 

Quiet men, ridin' again

as they've ridden

ten thousand times or more

firelight on yellow slickers

in the darkness gleams and flickers

spurs and snaffles rattle

cattle trailin' slow

 

See by their side

a thousand legends ride

cowboys who had ridden

long ago.

 

 

 

 

 

Comin' Home

Ray Kraft

 

When the season's done

long winds of autumn blow again

dusty days, saddle weary days

drift away

 

November comes

herd and the remuda's driven down

summer crew is driftin' with our soogans

with our pay

 

I'm comin' home

 

Gray storms of winter

gather in

comin' home

to the fires of

your lovin' again

comin' home

winter nights of candlelights

moonlight in your eyes

wind is gettin' colder now

in the sage it sighs

comin' home

 

Day is done

evening star risin' in the sky

ghosts of snow

blowin' in the pines

seem to say

I'm comin' home

 

Ridin' home.

 

 

 

 

 

The Wind Burnt Men

Ray Kraft

 

Windward of the ridges

where the gold

summer grass flows westering

to the sea, where swallows

swirl in the insect

laden evening, hear, remember

bewildered red-chested

Santa Gertrudis yearlings

bawling out the ageless

litany of rider, horse,

and cattle, the contented

snorts of cutting horses

sensing their dusty

work well done, the

ring of tarnished spurs

and lyric cursing of

the wind burnt men lightly

riding their own legends

into the sunset.

 

 

 

 

 

Ruby Mountain Morning

Ray Kraft

 

Early morning in the canyon

stars beginning to fade

streams all runnin' quiet now

sky's a gentle, quiet gray

 

Strike up a fire for coffee

walk around, check and grain your string

June up in Lamoille Canyon

larks beginning to sing

 

Gettin' lighter now, coffee's gone

sunlight strikes the Ruby Mountain peaks

throw your diamonds, tighten down your saddles

listen how that good cold leather squeaks

 

Move out, ride up for summer pastures

crows laughin' in the aspens green

pair of eagles waltzin' on the winds of dawn

hear the canyon's echoes of their hunting screams

 

Snowfields soften

as the sun climbs up the sky

Waterfalls all singin' out their love

and a cowboy's distant yodel

answers back the eagles' cry

as white clouds drift from

glaciers high above

 

It's summertime

ridin' time

it's morning

in the Ruby Mountains

again.

 

 

 

 

 

Benediction

Ray Kraft

 

Our ranks grow thin

I hear the bugles sing

flags folded, given to our

widows, daughters, sons,

bolts snap, rifles crack, I hear

the volleys echoing

 

We were called

the chosen ones of fate

into the crucible of fire and hell

to fight, to bleed, to do

awful, necessary things, we, the

bloody nemesis of hate

 

We soared and died

on laughter silvered wings

we rode the armor rumbling into slaughter

waded into steel through crimson surf

saw bombs concuss, fell to their

fierce concentric rings

 

And now the caisson rattles

a horse without a rider walks beside

a generation passes, gentlemen,

to rest in this sweet earth

we fought for, then, or as ashes

on the blue and restless tide

 

We have nothing

but this legacy to give, a dream,

a faith, a fading purple heart,

and freedom, pride, our Benediction,

for those who follow in our shadow

for those who live,

those yet to live.

 

Benediction (II)
Ray Kraft

Evening falls
I hear the bugles sing
flags folded, given to
our widows, daughters,
sons, bolts snap, the
rifles crack, I hear
the volleys
echoing

We were called
the legionaires of fate
into a crucible of fire
and hell, to fight
to live, to die, to do awful
necessary things, we
the bloody nemesis
of hate

We flew and died
on laughter silvered wings
we rode the armor
rumbling into slaughter
waded into steel
through crimson surf
let loose the bombs of war
fell to their quick
concentric rings

And now the caisson rattles
black horse without a rider
walks beside
a generation passes, gentlemen,
to rest in this sweet earth
we fought for, then,
or as ashes on the blue
and restless tide

We have nothing but this legacy
to give, a faith, a dream,
a fading purple heart
and freedom, this, our benediction
for those who live
those yet to live.

 

 

 

 

 

A Pretty Good Cowboy

Ray Kraft

 

He's got no gold buckles

no trophies to show

for the bulls and the broncs

that he rode

for he's never been first

in the big rodeo

and on most of his rides

he got throwed

 

Broke, and he's skinny

always been that

always spent more

than he's earned

his books are all kept

in the band of his hat

he's forgotten 'bout

twice what he's learned

 

And he curses the life

when he's calvin' again

in the half melted snow

and the mud

but he figgers it's worth it

as soon as he sees

some ol' cottonwood

startin' to bud

 

Then summer comes

dusty, hot, windy and brown

and he don't hardly

make it to town

he works through the night

when the water tank's dry

cattle scattered

and fences tore down

 

And he'll grin in October

he's ridin' the drag

feels that cool autumn wind

start to blow

through stands of gold aspen

sees cattle strung out

on the trail in the

valley below

 

He's a pretty good cowboy

he's lapped a good life

he just hopes he can

ride 'til he dies

wealthy in friends

and the memories he's raised

and the stars in the

high desert skies

 

A helluva hand

ain't fancy or famous

just glad he ain't

ridin' a desk

no walls to corral him

just mountains and pines

and the sage covered hills

of the West

 

He'll sing in October

he's ridin' the swing

feels that cool autumn wind

start to blow

through dancin' gold aspen

sees cattle strung out

on the trail in the

valley below

On the trail in the

valley below.

 

 

 

 

 

Anna Marie

Ray Kraft

 

Horses in the shadows

at the borders of the flickering campfire's glow

lean back against your saddles

listen to the whispers in the trees

I'll tell you all a story

when I was young, many years ago

ranchin' in the Absarokas

sharin' every trail I rode with Anna Marie

 

Found her on the Yellowstone

all alone, runnin' free

sorrow in her eyes that told of

too many years without a home

so I offered her some wages

a cabin she could come to call her own

and in her eyes I saw the first gleam

of the fire in the heart of Anna Marie

 

And in the morning

when the shadows go

when the sunlight falls

on the autumn snow

with my horses

ridin' wild and free

runnin' from and

searchin' for a memory

the eyes and arms

and love of Anna Marie

 

Skittish as a kitten

that had never felt the fingers of a man

magic with my horses

as good a roundup hand as I will see

in a year she learned to love me

fire in her heart, a fire in mine

now I'm achin' for the fingers and

the fire in the eyes of Anna Marie

 

And in the morning

when the shadows go

when the sunlight falls

on the autumn snow

with my horses

ridin' wild and free

runnin' from and

searchin' for a memory

the eyes and arms

and love of Anna Marie

 

Twenty years ago September

sorrow in her shoulders I could see

haunted by the memories

of days and places I will never know

packed her gear and through her tears

said it's time for her to go

twenty years of runnin' from and searchin' for

the Anna Marie I used to know

 

And in the morning

when the shadows go

when the sunlight falls

on the autumn snow

with my horses

ridin' wild and free

runnin' from and

searchin' for a memory

the eyes and arms

and love of Anna Marie.

 

 

 

 

 

Dance With The Devil

Ray Kraft

 

Snowflakes and headlights

dance like the devil in white

ice black as sin on the

road to Alberta tonight

the highway don't care

for the soul of a cowboy

lost before anyone knows

as the tires give way

he rides on to a rendezvous

dance with the devil

he knows

 

Dance with the devil

she'll dance with the devil tonight

she don't ask forever

she don't ask

if this love is right

she don't ask his name

she'll be gone

in the first morning light

but she'll dance with the devil

dance with the devil

tonight

 

How she cries in the night

how she cried when he left in the spring

highway to highway

gone with the wind

ridin' the rodeo string

the brahma don't care

for the soul of a cowboy

lost before anyone knows

it's a hand that he plays

when they open the gate

it's a dance with the devil

he knows

 

Dance with the devil

she'll dance with the devil tonight

she don't ask forever

she don't ask

if this love is right

she don't ask his name

she'll be gone

in the first morning light

but she'll dance with the devil

dance with the devil

tonight.

 

 

 

 

 

The Eyes of the Eagle

Ray Kraft

 

Workin' up Antelope Valley way

gatherin' cattle last year

I met an old half breed line rider

a medicine bag in his gear

 

His face was saddle leather

his back still arrow-straight

a Montana crown black Stetson

a bit of a limp in his gate

 

We rode together and talked awhile

'til we came to his summer home

a log line shack with an old wood stove

where I left him and rode on alone

 

But I'll never forget his words to me

as I asked asked him about his life

and didn't he ever get lonely out there

with his horses and dogs and no wife

 

He said, Son,

 

I don't hardly ever get lonesome

and sure it's a long ride to town

there's a woman who comes here to see me

each night when the sun goes down

 

Her arms are the earth I lie in

her love is the campfire's glow

her laughter the summer night's thunder

her fingers the soft falling snow

 

Her smile is the sun on the mountains

her song is the stream running free

her eyes are the eyes of the eagle

the wind is her whisper to me

 

Her eyes are the eyes of the eagle

the wind is her whisper to me.

 

 

 

 

 

Thunderstorms of Summer

Ray Kraft

 

Morning comes whispering

sunlight dancin' in the trees

morning wind comes gentle

I feel your fingers, gentle in the breeze

dew and coffee and my campfire

lend their fragrance to the dawn

the mare stares down the canyon

she whinnies, I wonder what she sees

 

The saddle sings a quiet song

of leather worked with love, long ago

I ride up the Uncompaghres

by streams that fill the Rio Grande below

tracks of cattle, tracks of elk,

sheep and coyotes in the sand

I can feel you ridin' by me

I love you and I wonder if you know

 

I see the rains a'comin'

Thunderstorms of Summer rollin' in

I hear the timber singin'

I hear you callin' for me in the wind

searchin' for a stand of spruce or fir

shelter from the storm

dreamin' of your fire

your smile and your arms

to keep me warm

 

Rain comes fallin', drivin'

runnin' off my slicker and my skin

sheltered in the thicket, still the thunder

and the rain come rollin' in

mare is gettin' nervous

head down, tail to the wind

I see you standin' by her for a moment

and I wonder where you've been

 

And now the storm is over

where I'm waitin' and your voice has blown afar

swing back in the saddle

up the trail towards the early evening star

I still hear thunder rollin' in the distance

and the night is comin' in

I still see lightnin' breakin'  and I

need you and I wonder who you are

 

I see the rains a'comin'

Thunderstorms of Summer rollin' in

I hear the timber singin'

I hear you callin' for me in the wind

searchin' for a stand of spruce or fir

shelter from the storm

dreamin' of your fire

your smile and your arms

to keep me warm

 

Dreamin' of your fire

your smile and your arms

to keep me warm.

 

 

 

 

 

She'll Do (To Ride The River With)

Ray Kraft

 

She's a candle in the window

when the night's comin' on

she's the early glow of sunrise

in the sky

she's a memory of lovin'

when I'm thirty miles from home

and the wind has blown a tear up

in my eye

 

She'll do

when the river's high and risin'

she'll do

when the will begins to give

she'll do

when nights are long

a storm's blowin' down

she'll do

to ride the river with

 

She's a hand on the cradle

a soft lullabye

she's a savior for a foal

too weak to stand

healin' fingers on my shoulders

when I'm achin' from the ride

she's a treasure of a lady

for a man

 

She'll do

when the river's high and risin'

she'll do

when the will begins to give

she'll do

when nights are long

a storm's blowin' down

she'll do

to ride the river with

 

When my trails are mostly traveled

and my work is mostly done

and there's only just one river

left to ride

though the thunder rolls around us

and the river's high, I know

she'll be with me when we reach

the other side

 

She'll do

when the river's high and risin'

she'll do

when the will begins to give

she'll do

when nights are long

a storm's blowin' down

she'll do

to ride the river with.

 

 

 

 

 

All The Way From Winnemucca

Ray Kraft

 

It's a long lonely ride

all the way from Winnemucca

to the early work at brandin'

down in Texas in the spring

where I saved a roll of entry fees

by stayin' out of town

and I hit the rough stock circuit

soon as summer rolls around

 

From Ft. Worth to Albuquerque

on to Tucson overnight

keep your chaps and saddle rosined

keep your cinches new and tight

sure to mark 'em comin' out

spurrin' mane to cantle

get your pay and get away

another show tomorrow night

 

And if this pickup keeps on pullin'

in her traces like she should

if this storm don't get much worse

why, I believe

that my prayers will all be answered

my dreams will all come true

and I'll be home and in your arms

by Christmas Eve

 

Drawin' Trail's End, Devil's Friend

Colorado Blue

Cotton Rosser's Widow Maker

from the lucky Flyin' U

with a pocket full o' dreamin'

and a belly full 'o sand

today you win the jackpot

tomorrow just a hand

 

It's a long lonesome ride

all the way from Winnemucca

March to Miles City

shippin' cattle in the fall

to the Finals down in Vegas

where I caught you on the phone

said, The season's nearly over love

I'll soon be ridin' home

 

If this pickup keeps on pullin'

in her traces like she should

if this storm don't get much worse

why I believe

that my prayers will all be answered

my dreams will all come true

and I'll be home and in your arms

by Christmas Eve

 

Yeah, my prayers will all be answered

my dreams will all come true

and I'll be home and in your arms

by Christmas Eve.

 

 

 

 

 

Dream of Christmas

Ray Kraft

 

This life that I've been livin's

gettin' faster every day

the city's gettin' bigger and I find

I always get to dreamin'

when the Holidays appear

if you like, I'll tell you what

I have in mind

 

Throw another log on the fire

give me Christmas,

the way it used to be

hear the children singin'

in the old church choir

friends and family gathered

by a fragrant Christmas tree

 

Throw another log on the fire

dream of Christmas

the way it used to be

turkeys in the oven

cider, cinnamon and cloves

women gettin' dinner

on the old wood stove

 

If I could make a prayer

and a dream come true

I'll tell you what that dream

would be

a prayer for peace

goodwill among men

through all the heavens

and on earth again

 

Throw another log on the fire

come, share a dream with me

and make this Christmas once again

like Christmas used to be

a time of hope and love again

a season of joy,

and peace.

 

 

 

 

 

Some Christmas Eve

Ray Kraft

 

I've always hoped

to spend some Christmas Eve

by the fire with a friend

or a few

a hot buttered brandy

or two

we'll sing and we'll listen

as fingers of north wind

pluck lyres of trees

let the fire light seas

of memories of those

with great hearts and

quick smiles and

warm arms, the long

miles between them and me

will be every so shorter, aye,

gone for awhile, someday

when once again

I see them smile

in bright beds of

hot coals from cedars

and lodgepoles somewhere

in a cabin some

cold Christmas Eve.

 

  

 

 

 

One More Crazy Cowboy Dream

Ray Kraft

 

I love the feel of eighteen wheels

eighty head of bawlin' steers in tow

the barkin' of the diesel

as another cattle run begins to roll

the sparklin' in the darkness

on the desert of the Cedar City lights

the shinin' of the candles in your eyes

and Lord, you're beautiful tonight

 

I love the battle when the partners turn 'im out

and the bronc begins to blow

the slappin' of the leather

the ringin' of the spurs and all the show

I know the feel of winnin'

and I know the feel of goin' on alone

the feelin' of your lovin' in the summer

and the feel of comin' home

 

And i wish that I could promise

that I'd always be forever

by your side

you've fallen for a cowboy

his heaven is another crazy ride

dreamin' of the horses

the ranges and the roads

I haven't seen

torn between your love

and one more ride

and one more crazy

cowboy dream

 

I love brandin' in the spring

all the hands and calves and yearlin's millin' 'round

horses in the distance

runnin' some high lonesome ridge without a sound

whispers in the wind and in the pine trees

and the wire as I ride

sunlight on the water shines like candles in your eyes

and Lord, you're beautiful tonight

 

I wish that I could promise

that I'd always be forever by your side

you've fallen for a cowboy

his heaven is another crazy ride

always dreamin' of the horses

the ranges and the roads I haven't seen

torn between your love

and one more ride

and one more crazy

cowboy dream

 

Torn between your love

and one more ride

and one more crazy

cowboy dream.

  

 

 

 

 

The Wolf in the Water

Ray Kraft

 

The winds blow on forever

on the plains

in the blue Montana skies

sagebrush drums and whistles

endless echoes

of ancient chants and cries

 

Old ones running

with their brothers

the wolf, the bear and buffalo

stories told in winter nights

lodges glowing

fires burning low

 

Deep in the blood

memories of grandfathers

the songs of long ago

songs of warriors dancing

coyote cries, of winter stars

of glistening snow

 

Winters pass, summers come

in whispering prairie grasses

spirits run

thunder drumming hooves

distant cries of prairie wolves

red setting suns

 

Now far in the hills

when I wander

there in a still water pool

a vision I see

a wolf in the water

gazing at me

is he my brother?

Who does he see?

 

Spirits running on the plains

the wolf in the water

calling me

the hawks and seasons circle

and I wonder

it is just a memory?

 

The winds blow on forever

on the plains

in the blue Montana skies

sagebrush drums and whistles

endless echoes

of ancient chants and cries.

 

  

 

 

 

Tequila, My Friend

Ray Kraft

 

Let's fly away

to a little town in Mexico

where they grow the maguey

where sweet sea winds blow

soft summer nights

let me remember

let me go there again

tequila, my friend

 

Dark sparkling eyes

black hair that glistens

held close in my arms

to my heart her heart listens

voice like a dove

kisses from heaven

let me hold her again

tequila, my friend

 

Many years I have wondered

why did I go wrong?

many years I have wandered

many years she's been gone

 

Bring me a memory

let me love her again

let your spirit console me

tequila, my friend,

 

 

 

 

 

 

Las Noches Encantadas (Enchanted Nights)

Ray Kraft

 

Enchanted nights

memories come shining

silver like the moon

of Mexico

warm as the sun

when it smiles upon the sea

love in your eyes

shining like the stars

that love the desert skies

of Sonora

enchanted nights

now only my memory

 

Las noches encantadas

those nights enchanted by your smile

last noches encantadas

illumined by your eyes

shining like the desert stars above

now every day

without your love

my heart breaks anew

las noches encantadas

enchanted nights

with you

 

Las noches encantadas

recuerdos brillar

como el luna plata

de Mexico

calor como el sol

cuando los sonrisas al a mar

amor en sus ojos

brillar como de estrella

que amor de cielo

de Sonora

las noches encantadas

no mas, que mi recuerdos

 

Las noches encantadas

those nights enchanted by your smile

las noches encantadas

illumined by your eyes

shining like the desert stars above

now every day

without your love

my heart breaks anew

las noches encantadas

enchanted nights

with you

Now every day

without your love

my heart breaks anew

las noches encantadas

enchanted nights

with you.

 

 

 

 

I Know It's Not Tequila

Ray Kraft

 

Are those tears

in your eyes?

It's late I know

the fire's low

our voices fill the night

with songs of love

 

Are those tears

in your eyes?

I'm not this way

I hear you say

it's just tequila

I've been drinking of

 

But I know

                Si, intiendo

I can see

                Si, yo ver

 

I know it's not tequila

that you cry

so many years

so many tears

by firelight I see

and realize

 

Those tears are tears of sorrow

for all the lonely nights

you've known, my love

those tears are tears of joy

for all the nights

that you've been dreaming of

I know it's not tequila

the sighing of the wind

the mourning dove

those tears are much too beautiful

those tears are from your heart

those tears are love

 

Si, intiendo

si, yo ver

yo saber lo es no tequila

su lagrimas

de mas anos, y lagrimas

yo ver por fuego luz

y comprender

 

Those tears are tears of sorrow

for all the lonely nights

you've known, my love

those tears are tears of joy

for all the nights

that you've been dreaming of

I know it's not tequila

the sighing of the wind

the mourning dove

those tears are much too beautiful

those tears are from your heart

those tears are love

 

Las lagrimas mas bello

las lagrimas, de corazon

mi amor.

 

 

 

 

 

Who Could Love You Any More?

Ray Kraft

 

I know I'm not the man

you've always wanted me to be

I'll never be a rich one

or the king of anything

just another cowboy

hangin' on to what I seen

but to me you are as beautiful

as any beauty queen

 

I know I'm not romantic

like the cowboys on the screen

I know I'm not the dancer

that you dance with in your dreams

workin' dawn to moonrise

trackin' mud across your floor

but you know there ain't nobody

who could love you

any more

 

I know it ain't been easy

sometimes lookin' back it seems

if you'd only done things different

there'd be diamonds

in your rings

 

I know this ain't the heaven

someone told you life would be

I know that things ain't always been

just right with you and me

but anytime you're thinkin'

of walkin' out that door

don't forget, there ain't nobody

who could love you

any more.

 

 

 

 

 

Ain't No Last Cowboys (Where I'm From)

Ray Kraft

 

Midnight in a bar

out in California

honky band was playin'

I stopped to listen on

silver guitar

red lizard boots and Levis

singer he was singin'

The Last Cowboy Song

 

And then I knew

I'd rode too far from home

ain't no last cowboys

where I'm from

the ranges aren't all dyin'

the legends aren't all gone

there ain't nobody singin'

the last cowboy song

 

Morning at four

up in Montana

restless remuda

day's work comin' on

been there before

swing up in the saddle

boss's kid behind me singin'

some ol' cowboy song

 

And then I knew

I'd rode too far from home

ain't no last cowboys

where I'm from

the ranges aren't all dyin'

the legends aren't all gone

there ain't nobody singin'

the last cowboy song

 

Long as the wind

blows in Wyoming

long as the Rio Grande

runs to the sea

long as the grasses

waive in Oklahoma

there'll be cattle

hands, and horses

and cowboy songs to sing

 

And then I knew

I'd ride right back to home

ain't no last cowboys

where I'm from

the ranges aren't all dyin'

the legends aren't all gone

there ain't nobody singin'

the last cowboy song

 

The ranges aren't all dyin'

the legends aren't all gone

there ain't nobody singin'

the last cowboy song.

 

 

 

 

Callin' Me Home

Ray Kraft

 

A Stetson, a saddle

a hot roll

I call that my home

horses, riatas, a rifle

and places to roam

ranges where

I've never been

mountains that I've

never seen

a wind blowin'

out of the west

callin' me home

 

The sun red and low

in the sky

to show me the trail

soon be the moon

climbin' high

and a coyote's wail

meadows to rest in

cool mountain streams

a song if I'm

campin' alone

a wind blowin'

out of the West

callin' me home

 

Though I work all

the gathers and ranches

and hear every tale

follow the seasons

and wagons

and ride every trail

 

Still there's dreams

that a cowboy will carry

secrets he keeps

rolls up with his beddin'

each mornin'

rides out as he sleeps

dreams of the girl

and a homeplace he loves

things that the wind's

singin' of

the wind blowin'

out of the West

callin' me home.

 

 

 

 

 

Down in the Willows

Ray Kraft

 

Down in the willows

where the mockingbird sings

of love in the morning

of love on the wing

your eyes in the moonlight

bright like the stars

down in the willows

warm, in my arms

 

And trails you must travel

ways I must ride

the cold winter wind

will burn in my eyes

your love in my fires

your laughter in spring

where the wind in the sagebrush

and meadowlarks sing

 

They'll call me a drifter

my saddle, my home

still I'll remember

my love, my own

 

Down in the willows

where the mourning doves cry

of love in the evening

wild wings in the sky

your eyes in the moonlight

bright like the stars

down in the willows

warm, in my arms.

 

 

 

 

 

If You Fell In Love With Me

Ray Kraft

 

Are you lonely tonight

do the shadows hold you

are the lips that you kiss

just a memory?

 

Should I hold you tonight

should my arms enfold you

would the shadows go

if you fell in love with me?

 

Would the stars shine in

would a gold moon rise

would the touch of love

dry those tears from your eyes?

 

Would the shadows leave you

would your soul fly free

should I hold you tonight

if you fell in love with me?

 

 

 

 

 

Nothin'

Ray Kraft

 

Nothin' but stars

and a blanket at night

nothin' but dawn

and gold morning light

nothin' but work

like a man ought to do

nothin' but a campfire

and coffee when

I'm through

 

Nothin' but these hills

where I can roam

nothin' but a woman

wishin' I was home

nothin' but he Lord above

watchin' over me

I got nothin'

but Lord

I'm rich and free.

 

 

 

 

 

The Trails I Love

Ray Kraft

 

Walkin' down the streets

of San Francisco

steel towers

crowdin' out the sky

homeless people

beggin' change

cars an' busses

crowdin' lanes

those lonely lookin'

strangers passin' by

 

This city ain't a place

for this ol' cowboy

diesel fumes bring

teardrops to my eyes

in those tears I see again

a thousand dawns

I've ridden in

and sunrise burnin'

in the eastern sky

 

Sold my saddle

years ago

damn fool thing I know

enchanted by the

shiny city dreams

those dreams came cold

as winter nights

without a fire's glow

and the sidewalks

don't grow wildflowers

in the spring

 

I've give away these city clothes

leave these lights behind

ride back to where

the timber greets the wind

where cattle graze

and mountains grow

where rivers spring from

winter snow

I'll never leave the

trails I love

again.

 

 

 

 

 

I've Been to Heaven

Ray Kraft

 

Some say there's a heaven

far beyond this cloudy sky

some say that the streets

are paved with gold

some say that we'll go there

if we're good and when we die

but I have found my heaven

here to hold

 

I've been to heaven

in your kisses

I've been to heaven

in your eyes

I went to heaven

when you fell in love

with me

I've been to heaven

in your arms

 

Could it be

that I was made to love you?

and maybe you were made

for lovin' me?

could it be this love is blest

by all the stars above you?

maybe that's what heaven

really means

 

I've been to heaven

in your kisses

I've been to heaven

in your eyes

I went to heaven

when you fell in love

with me

I've been to heaven

in your arms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Way She's S'posed to Be

Ray Kraft

 

Have you ridden in the morning

when the horses' breath is steamin'

when the sunrise sets the

eastern slopes aflame?

 

Have you seen the cattle grazin'

in the sultry summer haze

have you ridden in the

sudden summer rain?

 

Have you felt the fire glowin'

when that ol' north wind is blowin'

throwin' shadows of

lovers on the wall?

 

Have you wakened in the night

in the fading emberlight

seen the first white snows of winter

start to fall?

 

If it's these things

you've been missin'

come and ride along

with me

I'll show you all

this country just

the way she's

s'posed to be!

 

Have you rode the

springtime brandin'

summer rodeos

and standin' watchin'

mustangs racin' storms

across the plains?

 

There's a chinook wind

a hissin' in your

heart and if you'll

listen all the West

will blow there

in your soul again.

 

 

 

 

 

 Maybe It's Paradise

Ray Kraft

 

Maybe it's a godforsaken country

where the wind howls in the cedars

every day

that wind will burn your eyes

the sun burns in the skies

and you wonder why you're stayin'

anyway

 

Maybe it's a frozen land in winter

when the snows come driftin' deep

on that ol' wind

you won't lose too many cattle

if you're lucky

and you'll live to see

the summer come again

 

And maybe it's a magic land

in April

the prairie turnin' sweet

and green again

those big white clouds blow by

in the blue Wyomin' sky

then maybe

maybe it's paradise

 

Maybe it's a lonely land forever

where the miles are long and many

friend to friend

but your friends are always there

in spirit everywhere

like winds that blow

and loves that never end

 

And maybe it's a magic land

in April

the prairie turnin' sweet

and green again

those big white clouds blow by

in the blue Wyomin' sky

then maybe

maybe it's paradise.

 

 

 

 

Renegados

Ray Kraft 

 

Renegados correntosa

en mi ensuenos

renegados, mi recuerdos

de amor

renegados correntosa

en los cantos de vientos

los caballos renegados

de mi corazon

 

Wild horses of my dreams

of my love, my memories

renegados encantar

mi corazon

free and running in the wind

that sings and finds you

and blows your memory

to my arms,

mi amor

In the silver light of dawn

I see her shadow

riding wild horses

as they run

 

Renegados y ensuenos

running free and far

golden hair still shining

in the sun

 

Still I know those renegados

run only in my heart

she rides only

in my memory

 

Lonely hearts and wild horses

children of the wind

renegados and her love

enchanting me

Wild horses of my dreams

of my love, my memories

renegados encantar

mi corazon

free and running in the wind

that sings and finds you

and blows your memory

to my arms

mi amor

 

Renegados correntosa

en mi ensuenos

renegados, mi recuerdos

de amor

renegados correntosa

en los cantos de vientos

los caballos renegados

de mi corazon

 

Free and running

in the wind

that sings and finds you

and blow you to my arms

mi amor.

 

 

 

 

Santa Claus Sings

Ray Kraft

 

Ridin' home from a Christmas dance

late one Christmas Eve

the snow was white

and the moon was bright

and I saw

I do believe

 

A little white haired man

in a little red sleigh

drawn by eight reindeer

and I cupped my hand

to my ear as they ran

and I swear that

I did hear

Santa Claus singing

Santa Claus sings

high in the sky

in a sleigh on his way

to the good little girls

and the good little boys

with a great big bag of toys

Santa Claus sings!

Silent Night

Oh Holy Night

and Hark, the Angels Sing

the reindeer hooves

beat time as they flew

and the jingle bells

did ring

 

I once did think

he was just a tale

but now I know

'tis true

if you listen late

some Christmas Eve

he'll sing those

songs for you

Santa Claus singing

Santa Claus sings

high in the sky

in a sleigh on his way

to the good little girls

and the good little boys

with a great big bag of toys

Santa Claus sings!

  

 

 

 

How About You?

Ray Kraft

 

My baby just up and left me

my mama just up and died

hit my dog with the pickup truck

drivin' home drunk last night

boss just says I'm fired

judge says the alimony's due

and if it ain't paid by Monday

gonna put me in the cooler

for a month or two

 

So I came home

through the swingin' doors

gonna drink 'til things improve

tie me to this barstool

so I don't fall

if I move

you can take me home

you're drivin'

if you're still here after two

well ya asked me

how'm I doin'!

pretty good, hell,

how about you?

 

A week ago my favorite hog

lay sleepin' on the railroad track

along came a big ol' choo choo train

my hog ain't comin' back

kid's on drugs, barn burned down

roof leaks if it rains

so I think I'd better just sit right here

'til good times comes again

 

So I came home

through the swingin' doors

gonna drink 'til things improve

tie me to this barstool

so I don't fall

if I move

you can take me home

you're drivin'

if you're still here after two

well, ya asked me

how'm I doin'!

pretty good, hell,

how about you?

 

 

 

 

 

Lucky

Ray Kraft

 

Well, my daddy, he wasn't no cowboy

he wouldn't'a said 'them there' or 'ain't'

he'da said that he had eddication and sense

enough to stay offa ol' paint

 

And my family weren't packers or ranchers

and I weren't to the saddle bred

and rather'n off chasin' brushed up ol' cows

some would rather o' seen me off dead!

 

But Fate has a way of fixin' things

the way they're supposed to be

and so 'bout the time when I turned ten

brung a half wild hawse to me

 

The folks, they had bought a few acres

an' the seller had left this hawse there

guess he just figgered he wasn't worth takin'

and givin' away would be fair

 

Said he'd come wild from Nevada

he sure enough acted the part

piebald and short coupled, a big Roman nose

wide eyes and a big crazy heart

 

They'd called this Mustang 'Lucky'

been a bare in a rodeo string

but I s'pose he was light or not crazy enough

to make the good bronc twisters sing

 

So they sold him, or maybe they gave him away

I guess that we'll never know, now

anyhow, I'm a kid, never been on a horse

and he's here in my horse corral

 

I didn't know no better

so we rounded up some tack

and a cowboy to help get the saddle on

and get me up there on his back

 

And he humped just a little and tossed me down

on my ass, and he bent my pride

but I still didn't know no better and so

dusted off and, again, tried to ride

 

I kept gettin' on and kept tryin'

though I sure didn't have no style

and I stayed there a little bit longer and then

I was stayin' up there quite awhile

 

And we finally got it down to where

he'd buck and he'd kick and he'd run

and I'd stay planted there grinnin'

we's all just havin' some fun

 

He was always a little bit loco

some habits are hard to break

he'd spook at some great big old oak tree

and step over a rattlesnake

 

But he was just fine in rough country

he didin't know how to quit

and after awhile sorta picked up his style

and stopped always fightin' the bit

 

Quick as a slow bolt of lightnin'

proud as a king on a throne, he sure

liked to travel, he'd kick the most gravel

when he thought we was headin' for home

 

I worked him a lot in the foothills

huntin' cattle brushed up in the fall

then we'd ride away off in the mountains

where the winds in the tall timber call

 

And often out there in the summers

when the shade was a hundred and ten

we swam some cold creeks, on days like that

he sure did like to swim

 

We rode through the fall and the winter

gray clouds scuddin' along, my back

to the wind, my face stiff with cold

and him trottin' on sure and strong

 

And we rode in the spring and the lupine

the wind blowin' warm and sweet

he'd buck a bit extra, we head'er on out

I'd sing to the snare of his feet

 

He was never the best at anything

not cuttin' nor ropin' nor style

but strong and sure footed, he'd go anywhere

and get you back after awhile

 

We rode 'til he hit about twenty or so,

then as all of us someday will do

he began to slow down and get grumpy

I knew that his fast days were through

 

So we turned him out in the bottoms

where there's green grass most of the year

not too far from home, he'd come by for scraps

whole melons, corn in the ear

 

And there was some other old horses there

good company standin' nearby, and they'd

bunch in the corners and talk, I suppose

of their days in the hills on the fly

 

Then I walked away out in the pasture

late one Christmas Eve

and found him lyin' down out there

struggling just to breathe

 

He tried to stand as I came up

he could barely raise his head

and watchin' him tryin' I reckoned

by sunrise he'd be dead

 

So I settled myself down beside him

and laid my hand on his neck

and started talkin' to him and tryin'

to keep my tears in check

 

I told him about what a help he'd been

and a friend when I needed one

and I'd tried to treat him good, and so

I knew he'd had a pretty good run

 

And I said that I figgered he's spooked a bit

not knowin' what's comin' next

but whatever it is, it comes for us all,

and we all gets a little perplexed

 

But, I said, where I thought he'd be goin'

there'd be plenty of sweet grass and grain

and I figgered it probably likely that

I'd see him someday, there, again

 

And it seemed somehow that he understood

as I sat there beside him that night

and the wind it was sharp, but not bitter

and the stars all a'twinklin' bright

 

He laid his head down as I talked to him

and slowly got quiet and still

and I knew that he'd picked up his last long trail

run off, and run over the hill

 

And the wind was full of hoofbeats

as I wandered back inside

poured out a glass of tequila

sat by the fire and cried

 

I like to think that he's runnin'

back out in Nevada, where he was born

with a herd of spirit Mustangs

runnin' before the storm

 

Hear the crack of their hooves in the thunder

breathin' hard as they run in the wind

see the dust risin' on the horizon

look twice, now they're gone again

 

And I like to think that I'll see him

when I ride up that same trail some day

I'll call, and he'll stomp in the dust a bit, and

he'll snort, but he won't run away

 

There'll be that same ol' hump in his back

that same ol' gleam in his eye

we'll ride up the ridge where the morning glows

all red in the desert sky

 

Hell, most of you think I been loco'ed

to speak of an old hawse so

but there's them there in Stetsons who don't say much

and they know

they know.

 

 

 

A Toast For Christmas
Ray Kraft

 

No new poems this Christmas
it hasn't been that kind of year
but still I wish for each of you
good friends, good spirits
good cheer

And when all the gifts
are taken to heart
and the last Yule log
is but embers
may this have been a season
that each of us
always remembers

And may all the memories
be good ones
and all of the gifts be true
and the spirits and friends
inspire and cheer us all
the new year through.

 

 

 

Distant Thunder Laughing

Ray Kraft

 

The red hawks screams and plummets
the saddle creaks
beneath my shifting weight
above the footstamping
of the horse, impatient
ears twitching
there's ranges to go, 
ranges to go,
a flick of reigns in my hand
his ears come up, still,
half alert, half dozing
watching the pronghorn
grazing in the shadows
just below the next ridge

Blue wind cuts the heat of the day
cascading down the evening
flanks and canyons of the 
still white-shouldered
Sangre de Cristos

It was so long ago
those few short years
multitudes decimated
by the pestilence
of too much crowding,
too much pavement,
a little fission

The detritus of civilization
here and there remains
unhallowed ground

Surviving minds once turbid
with the incantations
of legislature and judiciary
have grown free and clear
flowing fresh as summer streams
fingers once sentenced 
to penitentiaries
of ledger, quill, and parchment
and their progeny
now pardoned to the
honesty of ash handles
rope and leather

The exigencies of
high commerce and invention
having crumbled
having fallen prey to
the weight and constipation
of their own inertia
their own myopia and turpitude
the syncronicity of the world
has grown erratic, has
given way to other breeds of time
in which the evening wind
smells of dreamtime
sage and pine
of ten thousand years to come
and ghosts of buffalo long dead
now browse with 
steaming breath and pungent
dung in the morning cold

We who live
have learned again
the ancient ways
of husbandry and hunting
and far among the 
stillness of the ranges
touch the spirits
in whose eyes
the star, the cross, the scimitar
were but sparks flitting
from the campfires
of eternity

A nudge of spurs
the horse, knowing my consent
turns toward old familiar pastures
down trails worn deep with
new and ancient memories
with smells of alder smoke
and voices
distant thunder laughing
in the dusk.
 

 

1988 Western Music Association Festival

Left - Right: Roberta Nolan Mileusnich, Ray Kraft, Dick Goodman, Robert Wagoner, Doc Denning

Courtesy of Michelle Sundin