January 8

Life of a Cowboy Seen in “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys”


Willie Nelson tells the story of a young boy who wanted to become a cowboy in his single “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys.” The song began with a young boy dreaming of wanting to become a cowboy because he sees something in them that amazed him. He learned everything about the life of a cowboy and grew up to become one. It wasn’t an easy life he realized, but it’s one that he has always wanted.

Willie Nelson on stage
Photo Credit: Willie Nelson/ Official Facebook Page

My heroes have always been cowboys

And they still are, it seems

Sadly, in search of, but one step in back of

Themselves and their slow movin’ dreams

Recording of “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys”

“My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys” was a song written by Sharon Vaughn in 1976. The first recording of the song was by Waylon Jennings, for his album Wanted! The Outlaws. However, Jennings’ recording was not commercially successful. In 1980, another outlaw country singer covered the song, Willie Nelson. This time when Nelson recorded the song it went straight up to number one on the country chart. In addition, it crossed over to the pop chart at number forty-four, and it also entered the Canadian chart.

Nelson included the song on his album The Electric Horseman.

Story Behind the Song

The story of how the song came into Jennings’ hands was told by Vaughn on an interview. She said that she was asked to write a cowboys song, and she wrote the song for about seventeen minutes. The song reached Jennings when Vaughn dropped by in his office to show him her recording of “Back in the Country.” Vaughn thought that the song was co-written by Jennings. Therefore, she showed him her recording, but it turns out that it was Will Jennings who wrote the song. It was there that she gave her recording of “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys.” Jennings liked the song, and therefore he recorded it that day.


My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson

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