Saturday, May 21, 2011

Song writer Andy Wilkinson is my Guest Today

Andy at the evening singing at the Retreat
In early April, I attended the Texas Mountain Trail Writer's Retreat in Alpine, Texas. There were several wonderful speakers--Texas Poet Laureate Larry Thomas,  Family Folklorist Beverly Six, and Songwriter Andy Wilkinson. All of the presenters were wonderful. I now even believe, if I can find time, I'd like to try my hand at writing a few poems and possibly dabble with writing some family folklore stories.

I doubt I'll try my hand at songwriting, but being a lover of research and the American West, I thoroughly enjoyed Andy Wilkinson's historical facts on his descendant the famous Texas cattle rancher Charlie Goodnight.  It was doubly interesting to me because Charles Goodnight is mentioned in my upcoming release, A Marshall of Her Own, a time travel romance set in the fictitious Texas Panhandle town of Prairie.

Andy's album, "Charlie Goodnight:  his life in poetry and song," is a tribute to his relative, however in the introduction in the album, Andy states that he didn't write about his relative because of their personal relationship. "I write about Charlie Goodnight, instead, because his life is the perfect metaphor for the people and land I most love...I do not wish to tell Charlie Goodnight's history, although I've been faithful to the facts. Rather, it is my hope to tell the truth that lies beyond these facts."

Cynthia Ann and her daugher
Prairie Flower.
He does an excellent job of doing just that in his song about Cynthia Ann Parker. Andy shared with us how he discovered a reporter's interview of Cynthia Ann after her return from captivity in 1834. She'd lived with the Comanches for twenty-four years, married, and born three children. They became her family and for the remainder of her life, she longed to rejoin them. The reporter asked Cynthia what she disliked about living among the whites. She said their houses, because they were cold in the winter and hot in the summer. In a teepee, the sides are rolled up in the summer to let the air flow through and in the winter, the sides are rolled down to keep the heat from the fire inside. She also didn't like white women's clothes. I think all women can relate to her dislike of the garmets women wore in that time period.

Andy's song, "White Women's Clothes," will touch your heart. He sang it for us at the workshop and I think few in the room weren't touched by Cynthia Ann's life. I know I had goosebumps. Many believe she died of a broken heart. Her young daughter died of pneumonia and after her return to the whites, she never saw her sons again. Her son, Quanah Parker, was the last Comanche Chief.

Andy has given me permission to post his song.

White Women's Clothes (Copyright, 1994)

In the moon you call December,
On the river you call the Pease,
It was cold, and I remember
We had just packed-up to leave,
When a mounted line of soldiers,
A-sparkle in the sun,
Rode down upon our warriors
And shot them one-by-one.

And the ponies of our women,
They were loaded down and slow
With our lodge-poles and equipment
And the meat of our buffalo.
So the cowards of your cavalry,
When all the fight was o'er,
Killed the women and their babies,
'Cept for me and Prairie Flow'r.

          The white man's liberation
          Took me from my home
          For the prison of his houses
          And his white women's clothes.

You could see my hair was flaxen,
You could see my eyes were blue,
See my skin was white and ashen
Or you would've shot me, too.
But you could not see the baby
That I cradled in my robes,
A small, red-skinned Comanche,
The color of my soul.

          The white man's liberation
          Took me from my home
          For the prison of his houses
          And his white women's clothes.

Dressed-up for your amusement
In your used and second-hands,
You parade me through your settlements
And you call me Cynthia Ann.
In these walls, I'm suffocating
Where the wind never blows,
While my heart is strangulating
In these white women's clothes.


           The white man's liberation
           Took me from my home
           For the prison of his houses
           And his white women's clothes.

Andy Wilkinson's bio:

A poet, song writer, singer, and playwright whose particular interest is the history and peoples of the Great Plains, Andy Wilkinson has recorded eight albums of original music and has written seven plays: “Charlie Goodnight’s Last Night,” a one-man show performed by Mr. Barry Corbin; the musical drama “My Cowboy’s Gift;” “The Soul of the West” (written with Red Steagall); "A Way In the West," a one-woman show performed by Ms. Trudy Fair; and commission pieces “The Fires of Camp” (an historical musical for the City of Lubbock); “The Drovers”  (for Texas Frontier Trails, Mineral Wells, TX), and “The Lost Letter” (McKinney, TX).  His work has received several awards, including the Texas Historical Foundation’s John Ben Shepperd Jr. Craftsmanship Award, and three National Western Heritage “Wrangler” Awards, two for original music and one for poetry.  He is Artist in Residence at the Southwest Collection at Texas Tech University, where he is also visiting assistant professor in the School of Music and in the Honors College.  In addition to his writing and teaching, he tours extensively in the US and abroad.

Thank you, Andy, for allowing me to post your song.

Readers, I hope you'll leave a comment for Andy or ask him a question. Remember, each time you comment on my blog you'll be entered into my monthly Ebook drawing. Visit Andy Wilkinson to see other albums he has available. To purchase "White Women's Clothes" or other albums, click on this link.

Happy Reading and Writing!



  1. Wonderful. I have always had a interest in Cynthia Ann Parker's life ever since I read a book about her while I was still in high school.

  2. The song is beautiful. I've based my series on pretty much the same theme. Wow, validation comes in strange ways. Thank you Linda for sharing:)

  3. What a fascinating blog! Thanks for sharing the words to the song. It's beautiful.

  4. Linda,
    Cynthia Ann, Quanah, and other members of their family are buried at the Fort Sill Cemetery. So is Geronimo, but he's buried in the POW section. Every time we go down there, we visit all of their graves. I've always thought her story was so, so sad. That is just a lovely song that Andy wrote--I would love to hear him perform it. Great blog--thanks for sharing.

  5. Loved the blog post especially since I'm currently researching the Cheyenne for a western I'm working on. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Wonderful blog Linda, and what a tragic story.



  7. Marvelous song, so expressive of our history and the convoluted way we've woven it.

    I'm reminded of two other cultures: In the South Pacific, houses are open on the sides and the breeze is the natural air conditioner.

    As to the song, I'm drawn to the similarity between Sir Walter Scott's "The Mascacre of Gelncoe" poem and the song it's become. There is also a lilt of "on the shores of ..." in both your song. People the world over have the same troubles.


  8. Linda--I'm happy to meet Andy Wilkinson and hear another story, another version of the tale about Cynthia Ann Parker. As a fellow Texan, a TT grad, and someone who has had a long interest in the Comanche, I congratulate him on his fantastic accomplishments.
    The song is poignant, sad, and true to heart. Thanks for introducing him to us. Celia

  9. Great Post - being a "Parker" by birth, we are always interested in her story.

  10. What a sad story. Poor Cynthia, it must have been heartbreak for her.

    A wonderful song Andy wrote.

  11. Andy, if you're reading this, your song has touched my heart. Being almost 1/8 Cherokee, I long to understand what the native Americans went through.

  12. Fascinating post! I love Native American history. One of my all time favorite romance novels is Ride the Wind by Lucia St. Clair Robson. It's based on the true story of Cynthia Ann Parker's life.

  13. Linda, I have always been fascinated by these type of stories since I was a child and saw The Searchers.

    I enjoyed your blog!

  14. I so appreciate all of the comments. I too have always been fascinated with Native American stories, possibly due to my 1/16 Cherokee heritage. Also, one of my husbands ancestors was a doctor who supposedly knew Cynthia Ann and her family.

    "Power of the Wind," about Quanah Parker, is another of Andy's songs that is really touching.