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Warning From Two Outlaws: “Mammas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys”


One of the pinnacles of Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson‘s partnership is absolutely the song “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys.”

Jennings and Nelson collaborated at numerous stages of their careers, and this country classic is one of the most famous alliances between the two stars. Released on their 1978 duet album Waylon & Willie, it peaked at No. 1 and spent four weeks on the top of the country music charts. It also reached No. 42 on the Billboard Hot 100, and even won Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal during the 1979 Grammy Awards. 

A Warning To All The Mothers Out There 

Written by Ed Bruce and his wife Patsy Bruce, “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” is a warning to all the mothers not to let their little boys become cowboys because of the tough and nomadic life of cowboy culture.

“Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys. Don’t let ’em pick guitars or drive them old trucks. Let ’em be doctors and lawyers and such. Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys. ‘Cause, they’ll never stay home, and they’re always alone. Even with someone they love,” the song goes.

“Ed started it on the way home from a recording session in Nashville in 1975,” Patsy said. “By the time he got home, he had a verse and part of a chorus, but it lay around for a while, and he could never finish it. So, one night we sat down together to work on it, and we finished it that night.” Patsy also revealed that the song was also supposed to be called “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Guitar Players;” however, it didn’t sound very commercial.

Ed Bruce then recorded the song for his 1976 self-titled album, and it reached No. 15 on the Hot Country Singles charts. But it was really Jennings and Nelson’s collaboration that made the song famous and remained the most recognizable to this day.

More than four decades later, the sons of the outlaw-country pioneers unite for their own version. Shooter Jennings and Lukas Nelson cut “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” as the theme song to Netflix’s The Ranch, which stars Ashton Kutcher, Elisha Cuthbert, and Sam Elliott.

“Lukas and I had a great time in the studio. We came up with an alternate rhythm that changes the vibe a little bit from the original — that gave us the space to make it our own,” Shooter said. “He and I have had very close relationships with our fathers — they always were our Number One fans. I’m so happy to have had the opportunity to sing this song with my brother and just have fun with it.”

Lukas has also expressed how honored he was to have worked with Shooter. He said, “We had a great time in the studio, and I would love to do it again many times.”

Anyway, you can listen to the song in the video below.

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