For some films, soundtrack music may serve simply as background noise, a set of songs intended to create a mood and tone, or just to fill up space between scenes. But for Urban Cowboy songs, they were the major components.
The 1980 film Urban Cowboy was quite a hit when it came out, and so was its soundtrack album – rising to No. 1 on the country charts, where it stayed for a remarkable eight weeks. It even landed at No. 3 on the all-genre Billboard 200, introducing country music to a larger audience and kick-starting the pop-country movement.
So, without further ado, let’s take a look back at all of Urban Cowboy’s tracks that dominated the 1980s.
1. “Lookin’ For Love” by Johnny Lee
Johnny Lee’s now-classic “Lookin’ for Love” was vital in establishing the on-screen romance between the film’s main characters, Bud and Sissy – played by John Travolta and Debra Winger.
During the movie premiere, Travolta also expressed a liking for the romantic ballad, which helped the song become a huge commercial hit.
2. “Hello Texas” by Jimmy Buffett
“Hello Texas” was the song that Bud danced to with a beautiful girl named Pam – the daughter of a wealthy oilman – at the uptown sleek, trendy, and elegant country disco in Houston, a far cry from Gilley’s.
3. “Could I Have This Dance” by Anne Murray
The dreamy ballad has indeed helped advance the romantic film’s plotline. Not only that, but it also helped Murray earn another No. 1 country hit as a solo artist and take home Grammy Awards for Best Female Country Vocal Performance.
4. “Stand by Me” by Mickey Gilley
Mickey Gilley was prominently featured in the film as well as on its soundtrack. Even though his cover of the Ben E. King soul hit “Stand by Me” for the film is his only Top-40 US Billboard hit, peaking at No. 22, it’s considered to be one of his signature songs.
5. “The Devil Went Down To Georgia” by The Charlie Daniels Band
“The Devil Went Down to Georgia” is absolutely Charlie Daniels’ biggest and most career-defining hit. It is one of the songs the band performed at Gilley’s.
6. “Don’t It Make Ya Wanna Dance” by Bonnie Raitt
There’s no better platform than Urban Cowboy for Bonnie Raitt’s pedal steel and fiddle-driven song, which perfectly showcased the singer’s smoky voice.
7. “Hearts Against The Wind” by JD Souther and Linda Ronstadt
This duet by frequent collaborators, Southern and Ronstadt, was the classic conclusion to the soundtrack. Ricky Skaggs plays the mandolin for the tear-jerking ballad.
8. “All Night Long” by Joe Walsh
Unlike the other songs from the film’s soundtrack, rocker Joe Walsh’s “All Night Long” did not show up on the country charts. Nevertheless, it turned out to be a staple of classic rock radio formats through the years.
9. “Love The World Away” by Kenny Rogers
The iconic film spawned another country hit with Kenny Rogers’ “Love the World Away.” The song reached No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100, while No. 4 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart and No. 8 on the Adult Contemporary chart.
10. “Cherokee Fiddle” by Johnny Lee
Two years after Lee recorded “Cherokee Fiddle” for Urban Cowboy, the country singer released a remixed version as the lead single from his album Sounds Like Love, featuring fiddle by Charlie Daniels. This version reached No. 10 on the country charts.
11. “Lyin’ Eyes” by Eagles
Reportedly, Urban Cowboy’s co-producer Irving Azoff – who also happens to be the Eagle’s manager – considered an all-Eagles soundtrack for Urban Cowboy but, in the end, chose the band’s hit song “Lyin’ Eyes.”
12. “Falling In Love For The Night” by The Charlie Daniels Band
There’s nothing more perfect for Urban Cowboy’s dancefloor scenes than the breezy vibe of The Charlie Daniels Band’s “Falling in Love for the Night.”
13. “Look What You’ve Done To Me” by Boz Scaggs
The song, which reflects on a broken romance, was written and recorded by Scaggs for Urban Cowboy. It features background vocals by the Eagles. However, the version as heard in the film replaces the band’s vocals with a female chorus.
14. “Times Like These” by Dan Fogelberg
Fogelberg’s haunting song has all the elements of a hit: poignant vocals combined with a melodic guitar line and catchy hook. So, it was a surprise when it wasn’t released as a single.
15. “Here Comes The Hurt Again” by Mickey Gilley
Gilley released the song in 1978 as the second single from his album Flyin’ High – which reached No. 9 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart – before it appeared on Urban Cowboy’s soundtrack.
Other ‘Urban Cowboy’ Songs That Also Deserves Your Attention
There was absolutely plenty of great music that came out of the film. Here are some more!
- “Nine Tonight” by Bob Seger
- “Orange Blossom Special/Hoedown” by Gilley’s ‘Urban Cowboy’ Band
- “Darlin'” by Bonnie Raitt
- “Rockin’ My Life Away” by Mickey Gilley
- “The Moon Just Turned Blue” by JD Souther
- “Jukebox Argument” by Mickey Gilley
- “Here You Come Again” by Gilley’s ‘Urban Cowboy’ Band
- “Cotton-Eyed Joe” by Bayou City Beats
- “Texas” by The Charlie Daniels Band
- “Honky Tonk Wine” by Mack Vickery
- “Rode Hard & Put Up Wet” by Marshall Chapman
- “Mamma’s Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys” by Mickey Gilley and Johnny Lee
- “Urban Cowboy Breakdown” by The Charlie Daniels Band
- “Orange Blossom Special” by The Charlie Daniels Band
Indeed, Urban Cowboy songs have more of an impact than most country fans likely realize.