My musical tastes are all across the board. I’ll listen to almost anything with a few exceptions. I appreciate anything that tells a good story. This number in particular tells a story of a self-proclaimed cowboy. This is someone who has never lived the life. This storyteller is someone who is either a wannabe or a has-been.
Robinson’s recording is my favorite so far of this song. It echoes the western theme of the song in clear and evocative lyrics. His words when it comes to his character’s knowledge of the cowboy life: “I know all the songs that the cowboys know bout the big corral where the doggies go, cause I learned them all on the radio.” These are the words of someone who is likely aching and hurting for not living the life of a profession real, but misunderstood.
Johnny Cash’s version is also good. My wife and I agreed on that. Many of the others were not of the same quality.
Cash’s earthy voice lends the same quality to the song as Robinson’s efforts. Yet he does it in a completely different way. Again, this is an anthem for a has-been or a wannabe. A more folky way to be certain. There’s no dated campy feel here. This is Americana music, first and foremost. No bells and whistles here folks, move along if you want auto tune. Cash, like Elvis Presley is one of those icons whom the world will never see again. Both he and Robinson do a fine job of telling a story with this ballad.
My Thoughts: Cowboys were members of a profession often over-glamorized. They lived a hard life on the trail. My former job, that of a private investigator is an often over-glamorized profession as well. Many believe that the trench coat, fedora, and high powered car are the tools of the trade. They aren’t. Many a time I followed the subject, but I didn’t do it in a Ferrari. My colleagues and I favored inconspicuous sedans and dingy vans.
These two professions are and were ways of life. Songs and stories were and still are composed about these ways of life. Only the true professionals know and learned the truth. The ‘Old Cowhand From The Rio Grande’ is not a happy individual. They are blissfully and tragically ignorant.