|You are listening to a computer-generated performance of:
A Texas Ragtime Two Step
W. Brett Youens
A human performance by Brett will soon appear!
| After performing some of my compositions in Sedalia in June 2003, I was approached by Sandy Williams, Vice-President of the Lake Superior Ragtime Society. She asked me if I would be interested in having one of my rags published in their newsletter. I regretfully had to decline, as all of my rags were already under contract, and, of course, I didn't own the rights to them anymore.
So I suggested to her that I compose a couple of new ragtimes, and that she could then choose one for the newsletter. The first thought I had was of writing a ragtime for my father, William Thomas Youens, Jr.
If music is my passion, then his is cows. As a child I had the good fortune to experience daily what it means to love what you do. My father would take us out to the land most every day. We would build fence, make the road passable after a washout, or bring the cows into another pasture. Sometimes on the weekends when there was no school, we would spend the whole day out at the squeeze chute working the cows. In the pauses my brother and I would make lariats out of the strings laying all around the old hay barn, and take turns trying to lasso each other. Sometimes we could talk dad into lassoing us himself with the big rope he kept in the tool box on the driver's side of the old blue truck..
But where you noticed his love of this work most was in his watching the cows: which ones needed working, which ones were expecting calves, and which ones it seemed the bull had his eye on. He taught us about the lead cow, explained why you change bulls every year or so, and could call the cows over to him with a perfect imitation of a calf crying out for its mother. A cattleman knows his cows.
You only have one childhood, and no matter how far away I may be from that little town in Texas where I grew up, mine will always be filled with memories of out in the pasture with my father and by brother. Sometimes working, sometimes lassoing, and sometimes just being with the cows.
|Newspaper photo of my father from June 1974, 5 months after my birth.|