Artist: Michael Murphey
Album: Blue Sky Night Thunder
Song: "Goodbye Old Desert Rat"
The Reverend Joshua Duncan Sloane's eulogy at the end of The Ballad of Cable Hogue stands as the profound resolution to a forgotten western. I like his words enough to share them here.
We are gathered here in the sight of God and all His glory to lay to rest Cable Hogue.
Now most funeral orations, Lord, lie about a man. Compare him to the angels, whitewash him with a really wide brush. But you know, Lord, and I know that it just is not true. Now a man is made out of bad as well as good, all of them. Cable Hogue was born into this world nobody knows when or where. He came stumbling out of the wilderness like a prophet of old. Out of the barren wastes he carved himself a one-man kingdom.
Some said he was ruthless. But you could do worse, Lord, than to take to your bosom Cable Hogue. He wasn't really a good man, he wasn't a bad man. But, Lord, he was a man!
He charged too much. He was as stingy as they come. Yes, he might have cheated, but he was square about it. Rich or poor, he gouged them all the same. When Cable Hogue died, there wasn't an animal in the desert he didn't know. There wasn't a star in the firmament he hadn't named. There wasn't a man he was afraid of.
Now the sand he fought and loved so long has covered him at last. Now he has gone into the whole torrent of the years, of the souls that pass and never stop. In some ways he was your dim reflection, Lord; and right or wrong, I feel he is worth consideration. But if you feel he is not, you should know that Hogue lived and died here in the desert, and I'm sure Hell will never be too hot for him.
He never went to church. He didn't need to. The whole desert was his cathedral. Hogue loved the desert, loved it deeper than he'd ever say. He built his empire, but was man enough to give it up for love when the time came.
Lord, as the day draws toward evening, this life grows to an end for us all. We say, "adieu" to our friend. Take him, Lord. But knowing Cable, I suggest you do not take him lightly.