The rugged and rebellious lifestyle of the Wild West has captured country music that there’s now an abundance of country songs about cowboys. From outlaw country songs featuring cowboys and rebels to old-timey cowboy songs with harmonies and melodies, their appeal has always been enduring.
Of course, who doesn’t love the thought of cowboys driving cattle across the prairie, a lawman riding for justice – and most especially, a modern rodeo cowboy? There’s always something about a man in denim, boots, and a cowboy hat and the drama of the old West that makes our hearts beat.
So, giddy up and scroll below for the absolute best country songs about cowboys.
1. Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys by Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings
“Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” is undoubtedly one of the most beloved songs about the cowboy way of life in country music. In the song, Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings warn mothers not to let their children become cowboys, who often live a tough and rootless life. The two country outlaws covered the song on their 1978 duet album.
2. Rhinestone Cowboy by Glen Campbell
There’s indeed a plethora of cowboy life and adventures in country music. That includes Glen Campbell’s “Rhinestone Cowboy,” which tells the story of an American cowboy that has all but vanished from the scene – a true story of the disappearance of the American Old West. While it’s a sad song, it’s absolutely one of the very best written odes to the wild west, a sentiment of remembering cowboy culture.
3. The Cowboy Rides Away by George Strait
Here’s one of the famous cowboy ballads from country music history. In the song, George Strait is riding away from a failed relationship. He and his lover have been through it all, and there are no more ways to work things out.
Strait released “The Cowboy Rides Away” in 1985 and has since used it to close out his performances. In 2013, the song’s title also became the name of Strait’s last and final tour.
4. Cowboy Casanova by Carrie Underwood
Carrie Underwood made country radio listeners strap on their cowboy boots with this sassy country hit. In the song, she warns another woman to stay away from this good-time cowboy, whom she describes as a candy-coated misery.
The up-tempo ballad became Underwood’s eighth No.1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart – within just ten weeks, making it her fastest-rising chart-topper to date.
5. Love Is A Cowboy by Kelsea Ballerini
Are you looking for cowboy songs with poetic lyrics and imagery? Kelsea Ballerini got you covered as she compares a love’s roller-coaster ups and downs to a wanderlust of a cowboy.
There’s the joy of embarking on a relationship and, of course, the pain of an inevitable heartbreak when your lover goes his own way. But even if you’re constantly knocked off the horse, you’d keep returning for more, as a cowboy would.
6. Should’ve Been a Cowboy by Toby Keith
Toby Keith released one of the best classic country songs about cowboys and the wild west. The song romanticizes a cowboy’s lifestyle as Keith made references to the old Westerns such as the American radio and television Western drama series Gunsmoke.
He also gave legendary cowboy heroes in country songs, such as Gene Autry and Roy Rogers, some name checks.
7. If I Was A Cowboy by Miranda Lambert
Miranda Lambert finds herself dreaming of being a cowboy in the Wild West. In the song, she wishes to be wild and free, roll around towns like tumbleweed, nip on a whiskey, and be a legend at loving and leaving. She believes there’s nothing she can’t do if she is only a cowboy.
8. Cowboy Take Me Away by Dixie Chicks
Would you believe the song’s title was derived from a popular slogan used in commercials for Calgon bath and beauty products? “Cowboy Take Me Away” tells the story of a woman head over heels in love with a cowboy. Its deeply romantic lyrics captured the hearts of many country fans, quickly becoming one of the trio’s signature songs.
9. Good Ride Cowboy by Garth Brooks
“Good Ride Cowboy,” tells the story of a man from Wyoming who found success in sharing cowboy tunes with the world.
The song is a tribute to Garth Brooks’ friend and fellow country musician Chris LeDoux, who was also a champion rodeo bareback rider. Brooks released the song shortly after LeDoux died in 2005, and it went on to peak at No. 3 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.
10. I Want to Be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart by Patsy Montana
At some point in a girl’s life, she dreams of being a cowboy’s sweetheart – and Patsy Montana is a testament. Feeling lonely and missing her boyfriend, Montana wrote “I Want to Be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart” in 1934 and recorded it a year later.
The song became an enduring classic. In fact, Montana’s record was added to the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry in 2012.
11. Are There Any More Real Cowboys? by Neil Young
Neil Young has always explored themes of rural American life, and in this song, he laments the loss of Western culture and cowboy lifestyle and goes after the fake cowboys “snortin’ cocaine when the honky-tonk’s all closed.” Country legend Willie Nelson also sang and played guitar in the song and appeared in the video.
12. My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys by Willie Nelson
Well, no one does Americana music better than Willie Nelson. Take, for instance, “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys,” where he recalled his childhood dream of becoming a cowboy. He once wished to pursue the life of his hard-riding heroes but eventually realized that cowboys live quite a miserable life from being alone too long.
13. The Ballad of the Lonesome Cowboy by Chris Stapleton
Chris Stapleton recorded “The Ballad of the Lonesome Cowboy” as a soundtrack for the animated comedy-drama film Toy Story 4. While its lyrics are childlike, they are heartfelt words from the perspective of Woody, the animated cowboy voiced by Tom Hanks.
14. Cowboys and Clowns by Ronnie Milsap
One of our favorite country songs from Western movies is definitely Ronnie Milsap’s “Cowboys and Clowns.” It was featured on the soundtrack for the comedy-drama film Bronco Billy, which starred Clint Eastwood as the star performer in a Wild West show. While Eastwood’s character was hailed as “the fastest draw in the West,” he was just an entertainer pretending to be a cowboy.
15. Like a Cowboy by Randy Houser
Randy Houser said he “grew up around the rodeo and around a bunch of cowboys” and how they travel all over the country. But one thing he remembers the most is how they come home and make things easier for their family – to which he realizes musicians are a lot like an old cowboy.
Isn’t it amazing how these tracks have poetically described the life and times of the wild west? So, what are you waiting for? Strap on your boots as you play these country songs about cowboys on repeat.
Carrie Underwood, Dixie Chicks, Garth Brooks, George Strait, glen campbell, Kelsea Ballerini, Miranda Lambert, patsy montana, Toby Keith, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson