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“Rhinestone Cowboy:” The Original Version by Larry Weiss


“Rhinestone Cowboy” is a classic song made popular by Glen Campbell in 1975. He heard the song while he was on tour in Australia. Campbell memorized the song and tried to make a version of his own. Upon returning to the US, he told Al Coury about his desire to record the song. Campbell became interested in recording it because of the philosophy behind the song:

There’s been a load of compromisin’
On the road to my horizon
But I’m gonna be where the lights are shinin’ on me

glen campbell rhinestone cowboy larry weiss
Photo Credit: Glen Campbell/ Official Website

“Rhinestone Cowboy,” Glen Campbell’s Version

Campbell’s version had reached the top of the country and pop charts. Furthermore, he made the song extremely successful by making it enter different charts outside of the US. Aside from securing spots on the country chart, Campbell also won numerous awards after releasing his version. He brought home awards from CMA, ACM, and AMA. In addition, he was also nominated for a Grammy Award. However, this award-winning signature song of Campbell was not originally recorded by him.

The Original Version of Larry Weiss

In 1974, Larry Weiss penned the song “Rhinestone Cowboy.” He also released his version on the same year for his album Black and Blue Suite. Sadly, Weiss’ version wasn’t as successful as Campbell’s. The inspiration behind his song came to him when he heard the words Rhinestone Cowboy. Weiss said in an interview with the American Songwriter Magazine that after hearing the words, he wrote the song based on how he imagined it. In addition, he also remembered his childhood days when he used to watch cowboy movies.

On his interview with the Tennessean, Weiss said that it took him a while to accept that he was not the one who made the song popular.

The Story of the “Rhinestone Cowboy”

The song tells the story of a man who, one day, hopes that he’ll reach stardom. He imagines himself wearing those shiny outfits and people calling his name. In addition, he also thinks that he’ll be receiving letters and deals from people because of his popularity.

Like a rhinestone cowboy
Riding out on a horse in a star-spangled rodeo
Rhinestone cowboy
Gettin’ cards and letters from people I don’t even know
And offers comin’ over the phone

During those days, some performers use shiny cowboy outfits when they perform on stage. This, therefore, became a symbol for someone famous.

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