John Burrus

Cowboy Songs and Country Hymns

About

Released in France by INEDIT and in the United States by Documentary Arts, Inc.
Details: Audio CD, 2003, 31 Tracks, 76mins, Produced and Recorded by Alan Govenar, also available in MP3 format from Amazon

John Burrus started singing when he was twenty-three years old. He was a rodeo cowboy, who, while the other cowboys went into town, stayed back at camp to practice his guitar. He learned a few basic chords, G, D, C and A, and then tried singing along as he played. He remembered the traditional songs he had heard as a child and later added to his repertoire his own arrangements of songs he saw in cowboy song books and hymnals. Although ranch work has become too strenuous, John Burrus still likes to ride and participate in the Old Timers Rodeo Association, competing in the breakaway and ribbon roping events, and singing at Camp Meetings, old age homes, and Sunday morning Rodeo ceremonies. This audiocassette tape was produced by Alan Govenar and, funded by Documentary Arts, Inc.

 

Liner Notes

Alan Govenar recorded John Burrus in 1987 at his home in Stephenville, Texas. These recordings were first released in 1988 with the following notes. This CD combines the original masters with additional recordings.

1988
On a Sunday morning before the final day of the Old Timers Rodeo outside of San Angelo, Texas a group of men congregate in the bleachers. Sixty three year old John Burrus stands in front of the group and reads New Testament verses and then sings cowboy songs and country hymns, accompanying himself on guitar and harmonica.

John Burrus started singing when he was twenty-three years old. He was a rodeo cowboy, who, while the other cowboys went into town, stayed back at camp to practice his guitar. He learned a few basic chords, G,D,C and A, and then tried singing along as he played. He remembered the traditional songs he had heard as a child and later added to his repertoire his own arrangements of songs he had seen in cowboy song books and hymnals.

John Burrus grew up in Eldorado, Texas, between San Angelo and Sonora. For most of his life, he worked as a ranch cowboy, breaking and training horses for barrel racing and calf roping events in rodeo competition. Since the mid-1960's Burrus has owned a rodeo arena and ninety-six acres of grazing land west of Stephenville. In 1986 he was forced to stop breaking horses because of a leg injury, but he is able to work with his son, William, who assumed the horse-breaking responsibilities

Although ranch work has become too strenuous, John Burrus still likes to ride and participate in the Old Timers Rodeo Association, competing in the breakaway and ribbon roping events, singing at camp meetings, nursing homes, and Sunday morning rodeo ceremonies.

2003
While John no longer works on the ranch, he still has one horse, named "Shorty", whom he seldom rides, but sometimes takes out to keep him reining properly. John and his wife, Gwendolyn, divided their property among their children and kept a small piece of land for themselves. John plays guitar and harmonica at home, singing to pass the time and to entertain his wife and family. He's taught two of his grandsons, William and Brant, to play guitar and sing cowboy songs and country hymns "just like him."

Alan Govenar, 2003

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Track Listing and Samples

01 Kentucky Waltz (listen to MP3 sample)
02 Texas Bill
03 Trail to Mexico
04 Ain't Got No Use for the Women
05 The Blood of the Lamb
06 My Love is a Rider
07 Jake and Roanie
08 He was Just a Lonely Cowboy
09 Sweet Hour of Prayer
10 Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie (listen to MP3 sample)
11 Tennessee Waltz
12 Zebra Done
13 Empty Cot in the Bunkhouse
14 Water, Cold Water (listen to MP3 sample)
15 Rovin' Gambler
16 Way Out in Reno, Nevada
17 When the Work's All Done This Fall
18 I'm Counting on You, Lord
19 Bill Venaiah
20 Cowpuncher Riding the Range
21 Turkey in the Straw
22 Git Along Little Doggies (listen to MP3 sample)
23 Sorry Peaks
24 Streets of Laredo
25 Plenty of Time
26 Just as I Am
27 Wings of a Dove
28 Sam Bass Without Him
29 Old Chisholm Trail
30 Let Me Be (not on INEDIT release) (listen to MP3 sample)

Listen to samples of this CD in high-quality, 192k, MP3 format: Kentucky Waltz, Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie, Git Along Little Doggies, and Let Me Be