This song, “Cowboy’s Lament,” had its origins in Ireland in the early 1800’s in a song called “The Unfortunate Rake.” When it made its way to the Western US, the theme, lyrics and title changed to “Cowboy’s Lament” or “Streets of Laredo,” to better fit the new locale. In 1876, a cowboy in Kansas named F.H. Maynard wrote the lyrics we know today, and the song became one of the best-known of all traditional cowboy songs.
This traditional cowboy classic became Rex Allen’s signature song in the 1950s after he made what many feel is the best recording ever made of it. He recorded it for Decca Records in October, 1955, with Victor Young directing the orchestra, and when Rex completed the song, the orchestra stood up and applauded!