IN MY COLORADO HOME A Colorado Song

“In My Colorado Home” is a song first recorded by the Sons of the San Joaquin.  Those readers who are paying close attention to this point may object that the San Joaquin Valley is in California, and not Colorado – and that’s true.

The Sons of the San Joaquin are a trio consisting of brothers Jack and Joe Hannah and Joe’s son, Lon Hannah.  The Hannah family moved from Missouri to California’s Central Valley during the Great Depression.  Jack and Joe’s father became a fan of the Sons of the Pioneers in the 1930s, when that group was a trio made up of Roy Rogers, Tim Spencer and Bob Nolan, and he would often sing their songs at home.

Spanish Peaks, La Veta, Colorado

Spanish Peaks, La Veta, Colorado

Half a century later, in 1987, Lon Hannah thought it would be fitting to perform some of those old songs at a birthday celebration for his grandfather, and he enlisted the aid of his father and uncle for the performance.

Jack and Joe Hannah are interesting and talented men.  Both had played professional baseball for many years in the 1950s and early 1960s – Joe as a catcher in the Chicago Cubs organization and Jack as a pitcher for Milwaukee Braves’ farm teams.  When they retired from baseball, both became high school teachers and coaches, and Joe was also the high school music director.  They had performed together at local events for several years and were certainly prepared when Lon suggested the performance for their father.

The family trio was a great success and they soon began playing professionally.  Their success continued, and in 1992 Jack and Joe both took early retirement from teaching to become full-time musicians.  The following year, Lon, who was an elementary school teacher, took an extended leave of absence from his position and resigned soon thereafter.

The songs on their first four albums, which were released between 1990 and 1993, were almost all cover versions of songs that had been written and performed by the Sons of the Pioneers.  In 1995 they released an album called From Whence Came the Cowboy that contained mostly original songs written by Jack Hannah, either alone or with a co-writer.  Jack’s songs were featured on most of their later albums, and were good enough that he was named the Western Music Association’s Songwriter of the Year in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2006 and 2011.

One of the songs on From Whence Came the Cowboy was “In My Colorado Home,” which Jack co-wrote with cowboy poet Darrell Arnold1.  It seems that the song may have been influenced by “Rock Me To Sleep in My Rocky Mountain Home,” which had been recorded in 1935 by the Sons of the Pioneers, but Arnold brings a legitimate tie-in to the State of Colorado.

Darrell Arnold was born and raised in the small town of La Veta in southern Colorado.  He studied Wildlife Biology in college, served four years in the Air Force and held a number of different jobs before he became a journalist in 1983.  In 1990, he started a publication called Cowboy Magazine, which was known as the “voice of the working ranch cowboy” until it ceased publication in 2008.  I believe that Mr. Arnold still lives in La Veta – which has a population of less than 800 – where he collects Social Security and still writes the occasional poem.

The Hannahs are also pretty much retired, but they still perform in California from time to time.  Here is the original version of “In My Colorado Home,” showing their wonderful harmonies:

In My Colorado Home
By Darrell Arnold and Jack Hannah

I was born and raised where the cattle graze under Colorado skies
The tumbling creeks and the Spanish peaks tells tails both old and wise
If you learn to love these mountains you never will depart
If your heart’s in Colorado, Colorado’s in your heart

Then a lady fair, who lived out there, and this cowboy fell in love
I held her tight by a campfire bright under blazing stars above
I pledged my love forever and vowed I’d never part
My heart was for this woman, this woman for my heart

Under rancher skies where the eagle flies is where I long to ride
Down the wooded slopes with my dreams and hopes and sweetheart by my side
The streams and trails and the mountain vales are the paths I long to roam
Where the hawk flies free is the place for me, in my Colorado home

But a young cowboy, full of life and joy, has a need to wander far
So I rode away on a piebald grey led by the morn’ stars
I pushed that grey down Texas way where the cattle trails all start
My heart was for me only, just I was in my heart

So I rode those trails to the hitchin’ rails of that rugged lonesome land
I danced all night, I drank and fight, cause I could not understand
Why I found no peace no sweet release and by mornin’ I depart
My heart was lost and lonely, lonely was my heart

Under rancher skies where the eagle flies is where I long to ride
Down the wooded slopes with my dreams and hopes and sweetheart by my side
The streams and trails and the mountain vales are the paths I long to roam
Where the hawk flies free is the place for me, in my Colorado home

So I put my horse on a westward course to the mountains I did ride
My love so fair was a waitin’ there on the slopes of the great divide
We’ll always be together, never more to part
My heart’s in Colorado, Colorado’s in my heart

Under rancher skies where the eagle flies is where I long to ride
Down the wooded slopes with my dreams and hopes and sweetheart by my side
The streams and trails and the mountain vales are the paths I long to roam
Where the hawk flies free is the place for me, in my Colorado home

Where the hawk flies free is the place for me, in my Colorado home
Colorado, Colorado, Colorado

For an index of the Colorado Songs in this series, please click here.

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  1.  Darrell Arnold’s best known cowboy poem may be a poem about cowboy poetry entitled “Cowboy Poultry Gatherin’.”  Here is an excerpt:

I learned about this gatherin’
When a neighbor passed the word,
And it struck me as the dumbest thing
That I had ever heard.

He said a bunch of cowboys
Had been comin’ here for years
For a great big poultry gatherin’.
I could not believe my ears.

 

Now, gatherin’ cows is somethin’
That I know they always do,
And some will even gather sheep
Believe me folks, it’s true.

 

I know they gather horses
Off the wild Nevada range,
But this gatherin’ all these chickens
Really sounded kinda strange.

 

I imagined some ol’ cowpoke
Jobbin’ spurs into his steed,
Chasin’ chickens through the sagebrush,
Colonel Sanders in the lead.
……..
Well, now I feel foolish.
It’s not poultry after all.
It’s po-et-ry, with rhymin’ words
And other folderol.
…..
But callin’ this stuff poetry
Would make ol’ Shakespeare howl.
I b’lieve it’s poultry after all,
‘Cause most of it is fowl!

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