Perfect Songs #1: Thin Lizzy – The Cowboy Song

I will still continue to consider certain songs as “perfect” even though I should really just admit that I am biased and will only be able to offer reasons why I find certain music to be particularly interesting…

That being said, my first “perfect song” is Cowboy Song by Thin Lizzy. This song appears on the 1976 album Jailbreak. A song by Thin Lizzy should naturally be considered for perfection because the group is so very awesome, and certainly one of the best rock bands ever. Beyond Cowboy Song, so many of their songs are excellent. The whole Jailbreak record is great, especially Romeo and the Lonely Girl and probably one of my other most favorite Lizzy songs, Emerald. Other considerations: Phil Lynott’s voice, his bass lines, his romantic lyrics, and his ability to create stories by imagining himself as various characters. The clever drumming and the glorious guitar harmonies, of course. Those guys are just talented. There apparently were issues recording some of the Thin Lizzy records, with some of the band members being very dissatisfied with how some of the instrumentation sounded (for example Johnny the Fox), however Jailbreak was produced really well, which adds to the enjoyment of the album.

Cowboy Song is remarkable because of the lyrics and the story: a loner seeking the freedom and solitude of the trail and finding it in the excitement of the rodeo. This is a romantic cowboy who reflects upon lost love. It makes me think of my favorite lovelorn cowboy, Dusty Farlow, from the original Dallas. I always loved Dusty Farlow and his blue eyes and I wanted for Sue Ellen and Dusty to be together forever, but of course he could never match J.R. I always have a soft spot for a cowboy, and I love Westerns. I digress.

The melody, tempo, and other elements change with the mood of the cowboy – the repeated lyrics,

Roll me over and turn me around
Let me keep spinning till I hit the ground
Roll me over and let me go

—-

Roll me over and I’ll turn around
And I’ll move my fingers up and down
Up and down

It’s ok amigos
Just let me go
Riding in the rodeo

Roll me over and turn me around
Let me keep spinning till I hit the ground
Roll me over and let me go
Riding in the rodeo
Roll me over and set me free
The cowboy’s life is the life for me

are accompanied by more subdued instrumentation, giving the heightened impression that the cowboy is floating through the air after being bucked off, in kind of a surreal spinning space that is endless. As his excitement builds during other parts of the song, so does the music, particularly the ecstatic guitar solos and uplifting harmonies.

The complete lyrics:

I am just a cowboy lonesome on the trail
A starry night,the campfire light
The coyote call, and the howling winds wail
So I’ll ride out to the old sundown

I am just a cowboy lonesome on the trail
Lord, I’m just thinking about a certain female
The nights we spent together riding on the range
Looking back it seems so strange

Roll me over and turn me around
Let me keep spinning till I hit the ground
Roll me over and let me go
Riding in the rodeo

I was took in Texas I did not know her name
Lord, all these southern girls seem the same
Down below the border in a town in Mexico
I got my job busting broncs for the rodeo

Roll me over and turn me around
Let me keep spinning till I hit the ground
Roll me over and let me go
Running free with the buffalo
Here I go

Roll me over and I’ll turn around
And I’ll move my fingers up and down
Up and down

It’s ok amigos
Just let me go
Riding in the rodeo

Roll me over and turn me around
Let me keep spinning till I hit the ground
Roll me over and let me go
Riding in the rodeo
Roll me over and set me free
The cowboy’s life is the life for me

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~ by atomlattice on July 2, 2012.

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