Retro Single Review: George Strait, “The Cowboy Rides Away”

1985 | Peak: #5

A classic single that embraces the traditional cowboy mythos while simultaneously reinventing it.

The title invokes memories of the cowboy archetype.  A relationship is coming to an end, so the cowboy saddles up and rides out of town, into the sunset.

Big difference here? He’s not leaving by his choice.  It’s the lady who holds the power here, and it’s the cowboy who’s on the receiving end of a broken heart.  This isn’t Waylon and Willie’s cowboy.

Written by Casey Kelly and Sonny Throckmorton

Grade: A

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  1. One of my very favorite recordings, by Strait or anyone else. It pains me that when he performs this in concert he doesn’t finish the song! (He sings to the first chorus and then lets the band play out while he struts the stage and leaves.) This is one of those perfect songs where the lyrics are well written and the sound of the song is captivating.

  2. I generally like cowboys songs, books about cowboys, etc., maybe because I grew up watching the TV westerns of the 50’s and 60’s.

    A more recent song (’09) about a cowboy leaving a relationship but not by his own choice is Lane Turner’s “Where’s a Sunset When You Need One”, solely written by Lane. It’s a more lighthearted look at the situation. The end of the first verse goes, “she chose another, what else could you, but look for a way, to walk away looking cool, tell me what would John Wayne do?” The chorus then begins “Where’s a sunset when you need one, the only way to say goodbye, …

  3. I love this song. Something about the basic, almost garage-band production and raw vocal just makes it seems all the more poignant.

    ^Nice call on the Lane Turner song. Still don’t understand why he wasn’t more successful…

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