Lorrie Darlin’: Lonesome Dove turns 25

Lonesome Dove's Captain Augustus McRae (Robert Duvall)It has been twenty-five years since Larry McMurtry’s Pulitzer prize-winning Lonesome Dove became one of the most beloved mini-series in television history. Winning seven Emmys and a pair of Golden Globes, Lonesome Dove has only grown in popularity since its debut in 1989. Spurring several sequel series and becoming the top-selling western DVD of all time, Lonesome Dove has cemented itself as a mainstay in American culture.

What makes this program so endearing is its memorable cast of characters, portrayed by such Hollywood heavyweights as Robert Duvall, Tommy Lee Jones, Danny Glover, Angelica Houston, Ricky Schroder, Diane Lane, Robert Urich, and more. Captain Augustus McRae (Robert Duvall) and Captain Woodrow F. Call (Tommy Lee Jones) are two retired Texas Rangers who decide to become the first to establish a cattle ranch in Montana. Lonesome Dove follows their epic journey to the Montana wilderness as they deal with the realities of living in a changing world.

Hat Creek Cattle CompanyLonesome Dove has been embraced by bluegrassers of all generations. References to the film can even be spotted if one digs into the liner notes of their favorite bluegrass albums! A nominee for IBMA Album of the Year, Blue Highway’s The Game was recorded Bobby Starnes’ studio, Hat Creek Recording Company. “Hat Creek” is a direct reference to Lonesome Dove, as McRae and Call were leaders of the Hat Creek Cattle Company. “Bobby and I speak in Lonesome Dove,” says Blue Highway’s Tim Stafford. “He even did a full scale reproduction of the Hat Creek [Cattle Company] sign.”

Bobby isn’t the only Lonesome Dove fan who has incorporated the Hat Creek Cattle Company into their work. Brandon Rickman of the Lonesome River Band even named his publishing company after one of McRae’s famous disclaimers. Brandon’s We Don’t Rent Pigs Music is all over LRB’s latest album, Turn On A Dime.

Augustus McRae and Woodrow F. CallBobby and Brandon are just two of many Lonesome Dove fans who are involved in bluegrass music. For fun, I polled some of bluegrass’ biggest Lonesome Dove fans on which character they feel they are most like and what is their favorite quote from the film. To make it a little interesting, try to match the bluegrass star with their answers!

Here are your choices:

A. Danny Roberts of The Grascals
B. Brandon Rickman of The Lonesome River Band
C. Adam McIntosh of American Drive
D. Eric Gibson of The Gibson Brothers
E. Daniel Patrick of The Patricks
F. Larry Cordle of Larry Cordle & Lonesome Standard Time
G. Joe Mullins of Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers
H. Tim Surrett of Balsam Range
I. Tim Stafford of Blue Highway
J. Buddy Robertson of Flatt Lonesome

Good luck!!

  1. Gus – He doesn’t let the trials of life do him out of his sense of humor or his good times.

    Favorite quote: “What would you know about writin’ a woman, Woodrow.” —Gus

  2. I think maybe Gus, especially as I get older. I get wistful for the past like he does but I get more and more joy from life’s little thing as I go along.

    Favorite quote: “I hate rude behavior in a man. I won’t tolerate it.” —Woodrow

  3. Well everybody probably wants to be like Gus, but I would be most like the Capt ol Woodrow.
    I’m more the type to get up and get to working instead of messing around and more on the reserved side on personality.

    Favorite quote: “I ‘spect you been sittin up all night reading The Good Book” —Woodrow to Gus after he had been at the bar all night!

  4. Gus. I’m a crazy old man.

    Favorite quote: “I might want to kick a pig.” —Gus

  5. Augustus McRae – I think we have the same personality.

    Favorite quote: “I can’t stand rude behavior in a man, I won’t tolerate it.” —Woodrow

  6. I love Augustus cause he’s so laid back, and lazy like me. But Woodrow is such a man’s man. Everyone wants to be Woodrow.

    Favorite quote:
    1) “A man who wouldn’t cheat for a poke dont want one bad enough.” —Gus to Lori
    2) “I can’t stand bad behavior in a man…. Won’t tolerate it.” —Woodrow to crowd after beating the tar out of that army man!

  7. Probably a combination of ’em. I identify with Call as a loner with an intense sense of loyalty, and with Gus as a cut-up who sees the absurdity and value of everyday situations.

    Favorite quote:
    1) “I hate rude behavior in a man. Won’t tolerate it.” —Woodrow
    2) “Lorie darlin’, life in San Francisco, you see, is still just life. If you want any one thing too badly, it’s likely to turn out to be a disappointment. The only healthy way to live life is to learn to like all the little everyday things, like a sip of good whiskey in the evening, a soft bed, a glass of buttermilk, or a feisty gentleman like myself.” —Gus

  8. I’d like to think I’m most like Gus….I like to enjoy the simple things in life and keep a positive attitude.

    Favorite quote:
    1) “Lori Darlin you’re as sweet as the mornin….how bout a poke?” —Gus with a laugh.
    2) “You ride with an outlaw, you die with an outlaw.” —Gus before they hang Jake

  9. Augustus – I’ve ben told I’m a little ornery same as him.

    Favorite quote: “My God, Woodrow. You never get the point do ya? It ain’t dying I’m talking about, it’s livin’!” —Gus

  10. I suppose I am most like Woodrow F. Call – a workaholic who is too serious much of the time! I find a little bit of Deets in my band – loyal and dependable.

    Favorite quote:
    1) “The first man that comes along that can read Latin is welcome to rob us; I’d like the chance to shoot at an educated man once in my life.” —Gus
    2) “Now if you want only one thing out of life too much, it’s bound to be a disappointment. So, the only healthy way to live life, as I see it, is to enjoy all the little everyday things, like a sip of whiskey in the evening, a soft bed, or a glass of buttermilk, or say a feisty gentleman like myself.” —Gus

Answers: 1-F; 2-D; 3-A; 4-H; 5-J; 6-C; 7-I; 8-E; 9-B; 10-G.

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About the Author

Daniel Mullins

Daniel is from southwestern Ohio and has been around bluegrass his entire life. He manages the Classic Country Connection, a music store in southern Ohio which specializes in bluegrass, classic country, gospel, and Americana music. He is the host of the Bending The Strings radio program, which plays a variety of bluegrass, newgrass, and Americana music. He also maintains the website for Joe Mullins and the Radio Ramblers. photo by LuAnn Adams