By Guest Writer @CiarasCountry
Cowboys and country music go together like peanut butter and jelly. Country music epitomises the soundtrack of the Wild West, and even though cowboys themselves might be mostly a thing of the past nowadays, it doesn’t mean we can’t sing songs about them! ‘Cowboy country’ is probably one of my favourite sub-genres of country music, and I’m sure once you read the songs that I’ve chosen for this week’s list, you’ll see why. In no particular order…
1. Cowboy Take Me Away – The Chicks
When I think cowboys, I think this song. The Chicks just have a way of crafting songs that make you yearn for the wild outdoors – Wide Open Spaces, Landslide (even if it’s a cover song!) and of course Cowboy Take Me Away. From the very first lines, “I wanna touch the earth, I wanna break it in my hands, I wanna grow something wild and unruly,” I always find myself transported to the great plains and a longing for a simpler life. The Chicks have made a romantic song not about cowboys themselves, but about the lives they lead – sleeping on the hard ground on a pillow of blue bonnets, looking at the horizon and not seeing a building standing tall, being the only one for miles and miles. I couldn’t agree with The Chicks more – it sounds so good to me.
2. Cowboy Casanova – Carrie Underwood
Now here we have a song charting a romantic fling with a cowboy, but probably not the type you’d want to get involved in. I love how Carrie can seamlessly transition between cutesy love songs to those that will make you think twice before you look at a man (Before He Cheats, Two Black Cadillacs, anyone?) and Cowboy Casanova certainly falls into the second of those categories. Carrie paints the clearest picture of this man – “he looks like a cool drink of water, but he’s candy-coated misery. He’s the devil in disguise, a snake with blue eyes, and he only comes out at night,” and tells us why we should stay away – “he’s like a curse, he’s like a drug, you get addicted to his love…don’t even look in his eyes, he’ll tell you nothing but lies.” This song is a force of nature, with some good advice thrown in for good measure.
3. Space Cowboy – Kacey Musgraves
Kacey’s music always surprises me. I remember looking at the tracklist for Golden Hour and thinking ‘Space Cowboy? Is that some kind of astronaut cowboy?’ No, it’s even better. Instead of being about a space cowboy, this is about space, cowboy (“You can have your space, cowboy, I ain’t gonna fence you in). Upon close inspection, this is a really heart-wrenching song – “after the gold rush, there ain’t no reason to stay. Shoulda learned form the movies that good guys don’t run away, but roads weren’t made to not go down, and there ain’t room for both of us in this town” – about knowing when it’s time to let someone go. I loved finding out the story behind it too – whilst at a riding lesson, Kacey was watching a stallion charge when her instructor said to move out of the way. Kacey replied that it was fine, the gate was closed, to which her instructor responded ‘when they wanna go, they will, there ain’t no point in even shuttin’ the gate,’ and so, Space Cowboy was born!
4. Rhinestone Cowboy – Glen Campbell
Perhaps you’re new to country music, and the other songs in this list might be ones you haven’t heard of before, but I’ll bet my bottom dollar that this is one you have. It begins with those oh so recognisable piano chords, then the drum hits in, and then we hear Glen talking about how he’ll make it big someday – “There’s been a load of compromising on the road to my horizon, but I’m gonna be where the lights are shinin’ on me like a rhinestone cowboy.” This is such a feel-good song with hugely motivational undertones – it might take some time, pain, and even a little rain, but if we keep on slugging and dreaming, we too might all find ourselves riding out in a star-spangled rodeo.
5. Cowboys and Angels – Dustin Lynch
There’s something about this song that just makes tears well up in my eyes – I think there’s something about the melody that makes you think it ought to be a sad song, but it’s actually extremely sweet and loving. In his signature dusky voice, Dustin Lynch tells us about the unlikely and yet common pairing of ‘girls like her and guys like me’ – “I’m hell on wheels and she’s heavenly, I’d die for her and she lives for me.” It might not totally make sense, but we see in this song that there’s something that just makes sullen cowboys and sweet girls next door work together. This song is gorgeous, and honestly a perfect love song (if you can get through it without crying, that is!), and a pleasant reminder that as well as all of those songs we have nowadays about bad boys and girls with cut-off jeans, we still have great songs like this too.
I hope you enjoyed today’s Top 5! What cowboy songs do you utterly adore? Toby Keith’s Shoul’ve Been A Cowboy? Jon Pardi’s Ain’t Always The Cowboy? Big & Rich’s Save A Horse (Ride A Cowboy)? Let us know on Twitter @Think_Country and @CiarasCountry, and if you want to hear even more connected country songs, tune in for Ciara’s Country Connections every Friday from 5-8pm on www.UKCountryRadio.com. Thanks for reading!
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