Daniel Nass

Composer | Collaborator | Commentator

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SONGS OF COWBOYS AND HOBOS

In December of 2011, I was approached by mezzo-soprano Alyssa Anderson about composing a new work for her classical voice and guitar duo, the dream songs project. As we were deliberating on possible text sources for the work,  Alyssa discovered information on an annual hobo convention held in Britt, Iowa, and upon discussing our mutual fascination with the hobo lifestyle, we agreed that this would provide an interesting subject for our collaboration. I began searching for texts on the topic of hobos, and stumbled upon the work of poet and author Henry Herbert Knibbs (1874-1945). He wrote eloquently about the hobo life (he even spent a two-year stint as a hobo in the early 1900s), but he was better known for his writings on cowboys, having written numerous western short stories, novels, and poems. As I delved deeper into his work, I discovered many of the themes in his writings overlapped, making it possible for me to create one cohesive song cycle focusing on elements of both the cowboy and the hobo.