Stories and Reports

Colorado River
In Crisis

Stories and Reports

The Western
Energy Boom

Stories and Reports

Health Care in
the Rural West

Historical Background

The Country Life Commission


The Contraction and Expansion of the Rural West

By Michael De Alessi

A jovial farmer boy I'll be
As free as birds that sing,
And carry forth my songs of glee,
Among the flowers of Spring.
No place for me - the crowded town,
With pavements hard and dry,
With lengthened streets of dusty brown,
And gloomy houses high.
I go and come a farmer boy,
From city trammels free,
I crack my whip and cry "Who hoy,"
A farmer boy I'll be.

- "The jovial farmer boy" words [1] and music by M. W. Cobb, 1885

Snapshot of 1910 vs. 2008 in population percent

Whether conjuring images of an opportunity to work the land, a close-knit community, or wide open spaces and fresh air, country life has long held a powerful sway over American hearts and minds.[2] The jovial farmer boy is just one example of the romantic allure of country life, but one that highlights the fact that this allure exists in contrast to city life, which has its own powerful economic, cultural, and social attractions.