“Tying a Knot in the Devil's Tail”

Author: almost certainly Gail Gardner
Earliest date: 1917
Keywords: Devil cowboy fight humorous
Found in: US(SW)


Two cowboys, having spent a wild time in town, are returning to camp when they meet the Devil. The Devil tries to collect their souls; the cowboys have the better of the fight, leaving the Devil tied up, branded, and with its tail in knots


Logsdon lists various authors who have been credited with this piece, but states pretty unequivocally that Gail Gardner is the actual author. Gardner did obtain the copyright, and Logsdon's evidence does add up to a very strong case; none of the other claimants appear to have any real supporting documentation.

According to Cannon, the "Sierry Petes" (Gardner's official title) refers specifically to the Sierra Prieta range in Arizona. - RBW

Same tune

Cross references



  1. Laws B17, "Tying a Knot in the Devil's Tail"
  2. Larkin, pp. 75-78, "Rusty Jiggs and Sandy Sam" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Fife-Cowboy/West 74, "Tying Knots in the Devil's Tail" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. Lomax-FSNA 203, "Tyin' a Knot in the Devil's Tail" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. Lomax-ABFS, pp. 406-409, "Tying a Knot in the Devil's Tail" (1 text)
  6. Ohrlin-HBT 27, "The Sierry Petes" (1 text, 1 tune)
  7. Logsdon 19, pp. 127-132, "The Soughrty Peaks" (1 text, 1 tune)
  8. Darling-NAS, pp. 174-176, "Tying a Knot in the Devil's Tail" (1 text)
  9. Silber-FSWB, p. 112, "Tyin' A Knot In The Devil's Tail" (1 text)
  10. DT 384, DVLTAIL*
  11. ADDITIONAL: Hal Cannon, editor, _Cowboy Poetry: A Gathering_, Giles M. Smith, 1985, pp. 3-5, "The Sierry Petes" (1 text)
  12. Roud #3238
  13. BI, LB17