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​The Banks Of The Musselshell

This song is by Tom Russell and appears on the album Song Of The West - The Cowboy Collection (1997).

I stare out every evening at the distant Northern Star
It leads us ever Northward and tells us that we are
Lost below the Yellowstone in a land unknown to me
Ten thousand miles from my loved ones and my home across the sea

We travel through an empty land, the benches are all strewn
With bison bones that shine ghost white 'neath the rising of the moon
And The red wolf howls and answers as I try to sing on guard
Indentured to these Texans, in a land so wild and hard

When I hired on to Bill Ducharm in the heat of the Texas sun
I was unaware of his darker side, his quickness with a gun
But I made a solemn promise, oh I'd ride with him through hell
Deliver the herd to the ends of the earth or the mouth of the Musselshell

Well I'd just turned about 16 when we hit that first cowtown
I drank my first strong liquor - oh and the women spun me 'round
But of all the barroom angels with their soft forbidden charms
I was stuck on Blue-eyed Annie - who belonged to Bill Ducharm

And the boy became a man that night in Annie's arms
Oh Annie cried and begged me... "Beware of Bill Ducharm"

We left that Texas cowtown we pointed the big herd North
But the first night when the moon was down, I rode back to old Fort Worth
They were closin' up the barroom, oh they were rollin' up the floor
My heart was in my mouth -as I knocked on Annie's door

And the boy became a man that night in Annie's arms
Oh Annie cried and begged me... "Beware of Bill Ducharm"

Oh, Bill Ducharm had one bad eye and his face was a devilish red
The result of a bygone prairie fire when he'd crawled back from the dead
And every night in dreams as I rolled in Annie's arms
I'd awake to face old Satan - in the guise of Bill Ducharm
And each night 'cross the campfire - I'd face that one bad eye
Did he know that I've betrayed him? Had my hour come to die?
One promise he made true - ah, we rode with him through hell
We delivered the herd to the ends of the earth and the mouth of the Musselshell

And the boy became a man that night in Annie's arms
Oh, Annie cried and begged me... "Beware of Bill Ducharm"

And as we near the Yellowstone, the snow begins to fall
And soon this dreadful enterprise shall be endin' for us all
It's then I'll need fast horses - ah, to fly to Annie's arms
And stay one jump ahead of the guns of Bill Ducharm

And the boy became a man that night in Annie's arms
Oh, Annie cried and begged me... "Beware of Bill Ducharm"

Oh, the boy became a man that night in Annie's arms
Annie cried and begged me... "Beware of Bill Ducharm"