Country music is pretty much synonymous with the rodeo -- and for good reason. Some of the genre's biggest hits and best songs are about horses, cattle and life in the West.
From Patsy Montana's signature hit from 1935 all through the new millennium, artists have been singing for decades about one of America's favorite pastimes. The following are The Boot's Top 10 country songs about the rodeo.
From Brooks' third studio album, Ropin' the Wind, came this song, which was originally called "Miss Rodeo" and was intended for a female singer. But when Brooks couldn't find a woman to cut it (not even Trisha Yearwood), he decided to record it himself. With lines such as, "It's boots and chaps / It's cowboy hats / It's spurs and latigo / It's the ropes and the reins / And the joy and the pain / And they call the thing rodeo," the tune, written by Larry Bastian, sounds so good that it may have just been fate that Brooks took it.
Ronnie Dunn penned this song with Terry McBride. It was included on Brooks & Dunn's final studio album, Cowboy Town, but Dunn and Kix Brooks re-released it as a duet with McEntire after performing it together at the 2008 CMA Awards.
"El Paso" was the first single released from Robbins' fifth studio album, Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs. The opening verse of the song includes the lines, "Out in the West Texas town of El Paso, I fell in love with a Mexican girl / Nighttime would find me in Rosa's Cantina / Music would play, and Felina would whirl," with Felina rumored to be named after a fifth-grade classmate of the singer, named Fidelina. "El Paso" was a No. 1 hit on both the country and pop charts for the artist.
"I Want to Be a Cowboy's Sweetheart"Patsy Montana
Montana, whose real name was Rubye Blevins, recorded "I Want to Be a Cowboy's Sweetheart" in 1935, and it became the first country song by a female artist to sell over one million copies. Although the tune was written more than 80 years ago, it has remained one of the most enduring songs: Lynn Anderson, the Dixie Chicks, Patti Page, Nickel Creek and Phish are among the artists who have recorded "I Want to Be a Cowboy's Sweetheart."
Gill co-wrote "What the Cowgirls Do" with Reed Nielsen and included it on his 1994 album, When Love Finds You. A twist on the classic rodeo song, "What the Cowgirls Do" finds Gill singing about the charm of brave cowgirls. The tune was special enough to become his 16th Top 10 hit.
Bogguss included "Night Rider's Lament" on her debut album, Somewhere Between, which was released on Capitol Records in 1989. Although not released as a single, the song, written by Michael Burton, remains a favorite of Bogguss' fans. With lines that include, "He asked me, 'Why does he ride for his money? / Why does he rope for short pay?' / He ain't gettin' nowhere / And he's losin' his share / Oh, he must've gone crazy out there," "Night Rider's Lament" still finds its way into Bogguss' setlists.
Ed Bruce wrote "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys" with his wife, Patsy Bruce, for his eponymous album, released in 1976. But it was Jennings and Nelson who took the song to the top of the charts after recording it for their 1978 duets album, Waylon & Willie. The tune, which warns, "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," earned the two men a Grammy for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.
Brooks introduced himself to country music fans with "Much Too Young (to Feel This Damn Old)," which was the debut single from his freshman album. Written by Brooks, along with Randy Taylor, the song name-checks one of Brooks' own heroes: "The competition's getting younger / Tougher broncs, you know I can't recall / A worn-out tape of Chris LeDoux, lonely women and bad booze / Seem to be the only friends I've left at all." Brooks has stated that the song wouldn't have been as successful without LeDoux's name, while LeDoux said that the song helped his popularity increase as well.
And speaking of LeDoux ... Following the release of "Much Too Young," LeDoux landed his own record deal and released Western Underground in 1991. Although "This Cowboy's Hat," failed to chart at radio, it remains one of LeDoux's most-beloved songs. With lyrics that say, "You'll ride a black tornado 'cross the western sky / Rope an ol' blue northern, and milk it 'til it's dry / Bull dawg the Mississippi, pin its ears down flat / Long before you take this cowboy's hat," the song perfectly combined the singer's love of the rodeo and country music.
There's not another song that better describes the rodeo life than Strait's hit "I Can Still Make Cheyenne," from his 1996 album, Blue Clear Sky. "She said, 'Don't bother comin' home / By the time you get here, I'll be long gone / There's somebody new, and he sure ain't no rodeo man,'" Strait sings. "He said, 'I'm sorry it's come down to this / There's so much about you that I'm gonna miss / But it's alright, baby / If I hurry, I can still make Cheyenne / Gotta go now, baby / If I hurry, I can still make Cheyenne." The King of Country Music included the song on his The Cowboy Rides Away: Live From AT&T Stadium album, which was recorded live during his final show.