Crowdsourcing a country song — the Ballad of Randy Howard

Country outlaw shot by bounty hunter

I don’t mean this to sound in any way disrespectful to the late Randy Howard, country singer and songwriter, but the manner of his demise is the most country thing I have ever heard in my life and it only seems fair to pay him an appropriate tribute.

Who’s Randy?  An Outlaw, that’s all.  A man who shared a stage with Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Hank Williams Junior.  One of those who rejected Nashville with all its country ‘n’ western schmaltz.  A serious performer of the country art.

How did he die?  In an exchange of gunfire with a bounty hunter, that’s how.  In a hail of God-given lead at the ungodly young age of 65.

randy howard killed by bounty hunter

Randy had a few convictions for DUI, and he’d lost his licence for it, thanks to an oppressive Washington-based federal government that doesn’t understand an American’s right to freedom of conscience.  But on top of that, he was facing charges of a fourth DUI, possessing drugs paraphernalia, possession of a firearm while intoxicated and driving without a licence.  A normal Tennessee boy, in other words.

Randy lit out for parts unknown.  He’d already done jail time for DUI and he wasn’t going back there, so when bounty hunter Jackie Shell showed up at his door, he wasn’t about to go quietly.  Now, anyone familiar with the Western genre will know instantly that the bounty hunter is the lowest of the low.  Lower than a gunslinger. Lower than a drygulcher. Lower than a rattlesnake. Lower, even, than a back-shooter, so it’s hardly surprising that Randy Howard cut loose with a volley of bullets.  Who wouldn’t?

Unfortunately, he only winged the low-down bounty-hunting rattlesnake and in the gunfight, Randy took a slug.

He died.  Randy up and died.

Jackie Shell, meanwhile, ended up in hospital for surgery, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press, quoting his mother, Mary Jane.  We don’t know yet if he’ll collect the bounty, since it’s by no means certain the reward said Dead or Alive, but he doesn’t seem to have been on Randy’s property legally.  With any luck, the low-down drygulching back-shooting rattlesnake will end up in his trailer nursing a sore shoulder and thinking twice about door-stepping another country outlaw.

Meanwhile, we need a tribute to Randy, and it seems only fair to write him a song.

The Ballad of Randy Howard.

Here’s my plan.

Let’s all contribute a few verses.  Between us we’ll knock it together into a decent song and then I’ll get some of my musical friends to record it.  We’ll put it up here in honour of Randy Howard.

Here’s what we have so far.  After this, it’s up to you.


Randy Howard, a friend of mine, loved his truck, his dog and his gun.

But a wanted poster on the wall sent Randy on the run.


One night, a bounty hunter, a killer known as Shell,

Rolled up to Randy’s hide-out, like a critter straight from Hell.



You low-down bounty hunter, you ain’t nuthin’ but a coward

And I ain’t goin’ nowhere or my name ain’t Randy Howard



Come out now Randy,drop your gun, you’ve gone and jumped your bail.

This paper I got here in my hand says you’re bound for the jail.


No bounty hunter never set a foot inside my door.

And you ain’t gonna be the first, you son of a Texas whore.



You low-down bounty hunter, you ain’t nuthin’ but a coward

And I ain’t goin’ nowhere or my name ain’t Randy Howard



Git to thinkin’, y’hear?



6 thoughts on “Crowdsourcing a country song — the Ballad of Randy Howard

  1. Randy he set his back to the door.
    Sent his dog out of range

    Bullet was the dog’s name but dying
    is a true man’s game.

  2. I can’t write verse, but I feel no country song would be complete without a woman called Mary-Lou

  3. God don’t live in Nashville,
    Old Randy knew that well,
    The devil turned up on his doorstep,
    Wearing the cloak of a cur called Shell.

    maybe more?

  4. Gotta have a mother in this somewhere.

    He thought about his mama and her words rang through his head,

    “There’s a time to live and a time to die, best know which” is all she said.

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