the screaming cowboy

There has probably been no time in post-World War II history that the cowboy has enjoyed more media popularity than during the early fifties. Cowboy comic books and movies abounded, as did country and western music. As shown in panel 1.1, songwriter Donald has obviously capitalized on the craze with "The Screaming Cowboy".

According to panel 1.2 and 1.3, Donald has been writing songs for three weeks until he succeeds by selling one of them, "The Screaming Cowboy". In panel 1.5, lyrics of the song are shown:

Oh, bury me thar
with my battered git-tar
a-screamin' my heart out fer yew

The Crying Cowboy and The Laughing Cowboy

In a December 9, 2000 e-mail to the Disney Comics Mailing List, Rob Klein wrote:
"The Screaming Cowboy" has long been a favourite theme for Barks Fans and Donaldists. As a part-time worker in Germany, lo these many years, I have been trying for a long time to help The "Hamburger" Donaldists find the inspiration Barks had for their "Theme Song".

I had an Uncle whose own "Theme Songs" were called "The Crying Cowboy" and "The Laughing Cowboy". They were recorded on the two sides of a single American, 10 inch, 78 RPM plastic (or bakelite?) record. He played it once for me in the early 1950s when I visited him in Chicago, USA.

The record was printed on the OKEH label, and I believe it was released in the late 1920s or early 1930s (certainly no later than the mid 1930s). It was a country and western novelty record. A parody of both the typical and popular "sad" and "happy" cowboy songs of the period. The "Crying Cowboy" had inane lyrics with a lot of crying, wailing, howling, moaning and sobbing. The other side was ridiculously happy, with a lot of varient laughing. Unfortunately, I cannot remember the Singer's name. And, more unfortunately, by the time my slow mind made the potential connexion between it and Barks' "Screaming Cowboy", my Uncle had died - and had been buried WITH THE RECORD!!! He really liked it!

I have since tried to find it, but was never able to even find information on it. I looked it up in the Schwann Catalogue between 1986 and 1990, but it was never listed. That was supposed to be the official ist of recorded music currently available. Perhaps it has since been re-released on a compilation CD of Western or novelty songs; and thus, will be currently listed on a computer list (perhaps even available on the internet?). Can some of our new musically knowledgeable members help us out in our search?

In a December 19, 2000 e-mail to the Disney Comics Mailing List, Marc Ponto wrote:
I thought that I might be able to contribute to the discussion of the inspiration for Barks’ The Screaming Cowboy. He may simply have been making his own wry contribution to what appears to have been a genre of Western music in the 30s and 40s. A brief search of the American Premium Record Guide: 1900-1965 (Krause Publications, 5th edition, 1997) reveals the following song titles: The Happy Cowboy, The Roving Cowboy, The Sporting Cowboy, The Gamblin’ Cowboy, The Lonely Cowboy, and The Dying Cowboy- not to mention The Yodeling Cowgirl. I didn’t notice a recording of The Laughing Cowboy or The Crying Cowboy, although the BMI website ( credits these tunes to Gregory Catherine (who apparently made a career of adapting traditional American folk songs- so they could be even older).

However, the inspiration for The Screaming Cowboy may have been more immediate. At the time the story was written (early 1951), it would have been nearly impossible to avoid exposure to the popular yodeling style of Hank Williams. His recent #1 hits- Lovesick Blues (March 1949), Lone Gone Lonesome Blues (March 1950), and Moanin’ the Blues (November 1950) no doubt elicited a mixed reaction from the general radio audience, and could have been the stimuli for this creative response of Carl Barks.

In a December 26, 2000 e-mail to the Disney Comics Mailing List, Armando Botto replied Marc Ponto:
It's worth noticing that also Bill Walsh & Floyd Gottfredson's Mickey Mouse daily strip probably used the same source of inspiration. In the continuity "Mickey Mouse and Dry Gulch Goofy" (March to June 1951) Goofy performs as a singing (moanin' ;-)) cowboy. And Goofy had been a singin' cowboy ("Goofy the Kid") also in the 1946 short continuity "Goofy the Crooner"... probably Bill Walsh found that Western music genre very amusing ;-)

Ah! That Jug Band!

According to panels 2.5 and 7.3, Donald's song was recorded with a "jug band". Listen to a mp3-excerpt of
The Leasebreakers playing "Jug Band Duet" to hear an example of jug band music.

Two members of The Leasebreakers Songwriter Donald

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