Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Classic Country Ballads of Lost Love – Cross the Brazos at Waco #westernfictioneers #countryballads #classiccountrymusic

I grew up in the late 50s and 60s listening to the country music of that era. I stuck with country music through the 70s. I made it into the 80s but, by the late 80s, country music as I knew and loved was headed in a direction that, with a few exceptions, I wasn’t interested going. So I didn’t. (Get off my lawn.)

The old west gunfighter and trail ballads, drinking songs, and revenge songs had an influence on me that was, and still is, every bit as strong as the impact Louis L’Amour’s books left with me. My lifelong interest, perhaps fascination bordering on obsession, with everything old west—truth, legends, and myths alike—have roots in those old cowboy and country songs.

I’m inviting you to read along with me this year as I post one or two nostalgic-for-me country ballads on the first Wednesday of each month. I will share a snippet of trivia about each song along with a YouTube video.

Each month, I will include a link back to the previous month’s article as reference to those songs. The common thread that runs among the songs I’ve chosen for this musical memory lane excursion is tragic lost love.

January – Marty Robbins – El Paso and Feleena
February – Faron Young – TheYellow Bandana
March – Willie Nelson and Ray Charles – Seven Spanish Angels
April – Marty Robbins – San Angelo

This month’s song is Cross the Brazos at Waco by Billy Walker.

Cross the Brazos at Waco was first recorded (May 1964) and released by Billy Walker (August 1964). The song was written by Kay Arnold, who also wrote his song Matamoros.

Here we have a story of an outlaw who chooses to put his guns away for the love of Carmela. 

His reputation as El Bandito had been too much for her, and she’d walked away from him. 

Time passed. Love endured. An opportunity to reunite came along when someone saw Carmela in San Antone, and that someone got that message to the outlaw. He interpreted her presence there as a sign that she wanted to see him. He sent a return message for Carmela to meet him on the banks of the Brazos River that very night. 

He rode toward San Antone with one eye on the trail ahead and one eye on the trail behind. He was guardedly hopeful that posse wouldn’t find him, but he’s a realist. He’s watching out for pursuit.

Ride hard and I’ll make it by dawn
Cross the Brazos at Waco
I’ll walk straight into old San Antone

He made it to the banks of the Brazos, saw Carmela waiting for him, and he dropped his gun belt to the ground to show his love for her and that he’d changed his outlawing ways. 

But, tragically, a Texas Ranger and a posse were waiting for him.

Then the night came alive with gun fire

He died in Carmela’s arms. His last words were, ironically... 

Cross the Brazos at Waco
I’m safe when I reach San Antone

I’m safe when I reach San Antone


Cross the Brazos at Waco, San Angelo, and Seven Spanish Angels have a common thread of the man being hunted and then killed by Texas Rangers or a posse.

Until next time,
Kaye Spencer
Lasterday Stories - writing through history one romance upon a time


  1. Replies
    1. This is Kaye as Anonymous. Darn Google and Blogger. ha

  2. Kaye, I have never heard that song before! WOW. How did that escape me? LOL But I will say, the guitar player that's somewhere off stage (not allowed to be on there with the "stars") sounds like Marty Robbins' guitar player. I wonder if he is, or became Marty's player later? sounds like him. Just curious. Anyhow, I love this song and I feel like I've just been handed a treasure since NOW I can listen to it again and again! LOL Good posts--I'm really enjoying every one of these!