“The Bucking Broncho (The Broncho Buster)”


A girl is in love with a bronco buster who has promised to give up his trade for her. She warns others not to rely on such promises; most breakers will leave their women to head up the trail on their horses


Has anyone else noticed the remarkable number of possible double-entendres in this song? - PJS

This, I think, is the result of a dirty song being cleaned up -- probably by N. Howard Thorp. (At least, he confessed to cleaning it up. The question then becomes, what was the history of the song before the 1904 publication? Was it originally clean, then made dirty, then clean again? Or was it originally dirty, and twice expurgated? It's hard to tell, at this stage.)

Thorp, if Logsdon is to be believed, started the story that Belle Starr was responsible for this piece -- a claim mentioned though not really endorsed by Randolph, and also found in Larkin.

Randolph goes on to point out that there is no evidence that Starr ever wrote poetry of any kind. Logsdon is more pointed (p. xix), noting that Thorp claimed to have met Belle Starr but doubting he did so. The doubts seem reasonable -- Thorp did not make the claim until the 1920s, but Starr died in 1889. Thus, if Thorp *did* meet her, it was well before he first published the song. So why didn't he mention her authorship in his 1908 edition?

Starr of course has become a legend -- so much so that I'm frankly amazed there are no songs about her (other than Woody Guthrie's, which is not traditional and which swallows the legend hook, line, and sinker). She did lead a wild and adventurous life -- but many of the stories about her seem to be things she invented - RBW


  • Girls of the Golden West [Mildred & Dorothy Good], "Bucking Broncho (My Love is a Cowboy)" (Bluebird B-5752, 1935; on AuthCowboys)
  • Powder River Jack & Kitty Lee, "My Love is a Cowboy" (Bluebird B-5298, 1934; on WhenIWas2)


  1. Laws B15, "The Bucking Broncho (The Broncho Buster)"
  2. Larkin, pp. 58-60, "My Love Is a Rider" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Randolph 200, "The Bucking Bronco" (1 text plus 1 excerpt and 2 fragments, 1 tune, which Cohen implies might be wrongly transcribed)
  4. Randolph/Cohen, pp. 196-198, "The Bucking Bronco" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 200A)
  5. Thorp/Fife XI, pp. 121-134 (26-27), "Bucking Broncho" (9 texts, 3 tunes)
  6. Fife-Cowboy/West 60, "Bucking Broncho" (2 texts, 1 tune)
  7. Lomax-ABFS, pp. 417-418, "Bucking Bronco" (1 text)
  8. Lomax-FSNA 199, "My Love is a Rider" (1 text, 1 tune)
  9. Ohrlin-HBT 14, "My Love Is a Rider" (1 text, 1 tune)
  10. Logsdon, pp. xix-xx, "(The Bucking Broncho)" (1 text)
  11. Silber-FSWB, p. 163, "Bucking Bronco" (1 text)
  12. Saffel-CowboyP, p. 200, "Bucking Broncho" (1 text)
  13. DT 382, BUCKBRNC*
  14. Roud #934
  15. BI, LB15


Alternate titles: “The Cowboy's Hat”
Author: claimed by James Hatch and Billie Davis (1882)
Earliest date: 1904 ("The Rawhide" by Edward White, in McClure's Magazine)
Keywords: cowboy love promise
Found in: US(Ro,So,SW)