As I walked out in the streets of Laredo,
As I walked out in Laredo one day,
I spied a young cowboy wrapped up in white linen,
Wrapped up in white linen and cold as the clay.
"I see by your outfit that you are a cowboy,"
These words he did say as I boldly stepped by,
"Come sit down beside me and hear my sad story;
I am shot in the breast and I know I must die."
"O beat the drum slowly and play the fife lowly.
Play the dead march as you carry me along.
Take me to the green valley there lay the turf o'er me,
For I'm a young cowboy and I know I've done wrong."
"Get six jolly cowboys to carry my coffin,
Get six prety maidens to bear me my pall,
Put bunches of roses all over my coffin,
Put roses to deaden the turf as it falls."
We beat the drum slowly and played the fife lowly,
We bitterly wept as we bore him along.
We all loved our comrade, so brave, young and handsome,
We all loved our comrade although he'd done wrong.
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Source: Singing Together, Spring 1977, BBC Publications
No source was given, beyond 'America'.
Other versions of 'Streets of Laredo' have the cowboy dying of disease which is usually not explicitly identified but is understood to be syphilis. Versions of this song are very widespread, with Norma Waterson singing a version from the Caribbean, for example. English versions include 'A Young Sailor cut down in his Prime.'
Roud: 2 (Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six