In 1979, Mel Tillis released “Coca-Cola Cowboy” as the first single off his album Mr. Entertainer.
The song became another country hit for Tillis, peaking at No. 5 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart. It was also a hit in Canada, where it reached No. 3 on the Canadian RPM Country Tracks chart. It truly is a stand-out among Mel Tillis songs.
The Interesting Story Behind The Song
Written by Steve Dorff, Sandy Pinkard, Sam Atchley, and Bud Dain, “Coca-Cola Cowboy” tells the story of a man who had his lover on the run. While he got the “Eastwood smile and a Robert Redford hair,” his cowboy ways taught her how not to care anymore. So, she asked him to leave her alone as she moved on with another man.
While this country classic was such a hit, did you know that Mel Tillis totally disliked it? Even record producer Jimmy Bowen thought it was the “dumbest song he’d ever heard.”
Tillis had already established his musical abilities as a songwriter and a singer at the time of the release of “Coca-Cola Cowboy.” However, he wanted to expand his career into acting as well. So, he met up with producer Snuff Garrett, who was hired to produce the soundtrack for the action-comedy film Every Which Way But Loose that will star iconic actor Clint Eastwood.
Garrett agreed for Tillis to be in the movie. However, when Garrett played him some potential songs to record, neither of which fascinated him. So, Tillis told Garrett he would write a couple of his own for the film – to which Garrett strongly disagreed. He told Tillis to record the songs or stop thinking about appearing in the movie.
With a little to no choice, Tillis cut “Coca-Cola Cowboy” – along with “Send Me Down To Tucson,” which went to No. 2 on the country music charts – and appeared in the movie.
Anyway, you can listen to “Coca-Cola Cowboy” by Mel Tillis in the video below.