And now my friends you've asked me what makes me sad and still
And why my brow is darkened like the clouds upon the hill
Run in your ponies closer and I'll tell to you my tale
Of Utah Carol my partner and his last ride on the trail

We rode the range together and rode it side by side
I loved him like a brother, and I wept when Utah died
We were rounding up one morning when work was almost done
When on his side the cattle started on a frightened run

Underneath the saddle that the boss's daughter rode
Utah that very morning had placed a bright red robe
So the saddle might ride easy for Lenore his little friend
And it was this red blanket that brought him to his end

The blanket was now dragging behind her on the ground
The frightened cattle saw it and charged it with a bound
Lenore then saw her danger and turned her pony's face
And leaning in the saddle tied the blanket to its place

But in leaning lost her balance, fell in front of that wildtide
"Lay still Lenore I'm coming" were the words that Utah cried
His faithful pony saw her and reached her in a bound
I thought he'd been successful, and raised her from the ground

But the weight upon the saddle had not been felt before
His backcinch snapped like thunder and he fell by Lenore
Picking up the blanket he swung it over his head
And started cross the prairie, "Lay still Lenore" he said

When he got the stampede turned and saved Lenore his friend
He turned to face the cattle and meet his fatal end
His six gun flashed like lightning, the report rang loud andclear
As the cattle rushed and killed him he dropped the leadingsteer

On his funeral morning I heard the preacher say
I hope we'll all meet Utah at the roundup far away
Then they wrapped him in a blanket that saved his little friend
And it was this red blanket that brought him to his end


Lyrics submitted by annazoff

Utah Carol song meanings
Add your thoughts

1 Comment

sort form View by:
  • 0
    My OpinionI need to start by saying that I love Marty Robbins. He was a great singer, a great songwriter, and a great showman. So, please believe me, no disrespect is intended here...

    I am also aware that there are may incarnations of "Utah Carol"; there are many "other" and many "alternate" versions of the lyrics. As with many "folk song" genres, "Cowboy Songs" often vary from location to location and time to time. Unlike most of the modern song categories, the "old time" Cowboy Songs were most often sung by practitioners of the art -- i.e. Cowboys. (Compare this to, say, the more modern "Trucker Ballads" that are generally NOT sung by Truckers.)

    The effect of this is that the lyrics in most traditional Cowboy Songs "make sense" -- that is, they don't talk about things that would not "work" in the real "Cowboy World. Often, you can tell when a Cowboy Ballad has been "worked over" by a songsmith more interested in "production values" than veracity because "lyrical nonsense" begins to creep in.

    Again, I love Marty Robbins, but at several points here, he chose versions of the lyrics that fail the Plausibility Test. To be fair, I do not think he invented any new implausible lyrics; I've heard these derivatives before; but, for sure, Marty did not choose his version for its verisimilitude. I find this sad because, as Cowboy Songs go, this one has a lot of wonderful and, at least in some versions, accurate details.

    Let me explicate with examples from Marty's lyrics and, in some cases, from the alternate lyrics often used.

    The premise of the song is that Lenore becomes the target of some stampeding cattle because a "bright red blanket robe is trailing behind her horse." When Lenore sees this, what does she do? The song says, "Lenore then saw her danger and turned her pony's face..." This is *precisely* the correct tactic! As a kid, it was drummed into me, "If something happens that might frighten your horse, turn them away from it to help keep them from panicking!" Lenore responds by taking exactly the right action first!

    But, in the version Marty chose, she totally blows it in the next line which says, "And leaning in the saddle tied the blanket to its place..."

    Uh, no she did not "tie the blanket to its place." This is wrong on several counts. First, the start of the song tells you the blanket was "underneath the saddle..." That would be the "blanket's place." Well, folks, there's nothing to tie the blanket to (or with) underneath the saddle. On the cantle there might be some tie strings, but if she used those, the blanket would wind up behind the saddle, not underneath it. Behind the saddle was never the blanket's "place"!

    Second, the cattle are "charging" the blanket. You don't want to take the blanket with you; you want to drop it and ride away. A cowgirl smart enough to "turn her pony's face" first, is smart enough to know this!

    Finally, had she truly "tied the blanket to its place" -- whatever "place" that might be -- the rest of the song falls apart! The blanket is now tied to the saddle. Lenore might still fall off of her horse, but the blanket will not wind up on the ground where Utah can later pick it up!

    The better version of this lyric is, "And leaning in the saddle, tried the blanket to displace..." This explains why BOTH Lenore AND the blanket wind up on the ground.

    The song goes pretty well for a few lines -- right up to the point where Utah "raised her from the ground." At that point, the saddle rigging gets over-stressed and fails. The lyrics Marty sang say, "His backcinch snapped like thunder..." This is even worse than "tying the blanket to its place"! The obvious intent is to say that the cinch made a sudden loud sound when it failed. Well, be that as it may, nobody (not even Lenore) is going to notice that over the roar of a stampeding herd of cattle. Further, the cinch is not likely to "snap" so much as it is to "rip" under these conditions. In point of fact, the rigging would not have to fail completely, only become exceedingly loose, for the saddle to swing down under the belly of the horse and eject our two erstwhile passengers. I have seen this type of failure multiple times when the tongue on the offside cinch ring slits the billet between holes.

    But even those considerations are moot because it would NOT be the "back cinch" that failed! The back cinch on a double rig is there to keep the rear of the saddle from raising up when you rope a critter and get a strong pull on the saddle horn. Standard practice is to leave a "hand thickness" between this cinch and the horse's belly. Some folks do tighten them up; but nobody uses that cinch to keep the saddle in the proper position on their horse's back... I even knew one cowboy who, when not planning to do any roping, always rode with the "back cinch" not fastened because he once had a stick go between the rear cinch and his horse's belly and the results were not pretty.

    The better lyric would be, "His front cinch ripped asunder..." You could even say "snapped" if you wanted -- just get the name of the cinch and the likely effect of its failure correct if you do!

    My favorite lyrics of this song go, "His six gun flashed like lightning, the report rang loud and clear... As the cattle rushed and killed him he dropped the leading steer." Most of the people who hear this, including modern "Cowboys," don't really get it. Sure, Utah was mad; maybe he wanted to "go out fighting"; but, there was a more compelling reason...

    Lots of times, a herd will "pick a leader" -- a cow or a steer they will follow. They look for this critter to "set the pace"; to determine when to stop; and to determine when to panic. Sometimes, when the herd picked the wrong leader, you would see more frequent stampedes and other forms of bad behavior. Quite often, if you were unlucky enough to have more than one stampede, you might notice the same bovine was "leading the insurrection" every time. The usual remedy was to simply "put 'em down" -- turn them into tonight's stew. Utah was, to the very last, thinking of others. He proved this by dispatching the steer that most likely started the fracas. (There is also a slight possibility that Utah hoped to use the steer's body as a shelter from the rest of the herd. Sadly, that did not work out :-(

    The preceding was my $0.02 worth!
    (And that's inflation!)

    --FlyingLP--
    FlyingLPon August 08, 2018   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top
explain