Where Have All the Cowboy Songs Gone?

Why We Need the Western Back in Country

Country fans always kind of scoff at people who still call it country and western. Like they are so out of touch, and we don’t call it that any more than we wear gingham and overalls and sit on hay bales during concerts.

But, really, would a little more western in our country be all that bad?

When I listen to the radio today, and song after song comes on that doesn’t feel country at all, I wonder if maybe I’ve never really liked just plain country music. I think that what I really liked all along is cowboy music.

I wonder this every time Randy Houser‘s “Like a Cowboy” comes on. Because when it’s over, I’m left wanting.

And what I want, I’ve realized, is this:

Songs with something about rodeos and roping and riding, campfires, baling hay, his and her buckles, boots and spurs, saddles and cattle, bull riding, roosters crowing, crops that need rain, one-horse towns, front porch swings, canteens, dusty dance hall floors and swinging doors, the Great Divide, the open range, county auctions, saloons with jukeboxes, desert stars, boot sliding, salt of the earth, Texas sunflower yellow and St. Peter tipping his hat when the good Lord calls you home.

That void makes me feel a little empty.

Because even though I’ve never lived on farm, baled hay, roped for short pay, wrestled a steer, tipped my hat or sat around a campfire with a canteen, when I hear those songs, I can live vicariously through all those cowboys.

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.