Cowboy Attitude

Album: Companero Blanco (2002)
  • songfacts ®
  • About this song, singer/songwriter Andy Hersey tells this story: "A buddy of mine named Rocky Locke, who's in the song there, was a bull rider, a construction guy by trade and then riding bulls on weekends, had a bull roll on him at the old hometown rodeo here. Crushed his hat and broke his back. And as they're loading him into the ambulance, all he's saying is, 'Where's my hat?' And so it was the cowboy attitude, keeping up no matter how bad it hurts, you keep on the cowboy attitude type thing. And that might be poking fun at some of the rodeo-ers that are into ego and their latest ride, rather than keeping an animal healthy, like on a ranch someplace. And a lot of those rodeo-ers, they do ranching, too, they come from ranching families, but not this guy. He's a good friend of mine, but he had a bull roll on him and he never changed pace.

    But that's the cowboy attitude," he continues. "It seems like that's what it's evolved into. And it's far different than the boys that rode on the Chisholm Trail because they had nothing else to do. All those cowboys on the Chisholm Trail, they were looked down on. There was no glamour. If you're just pushing a bunch of cows from Abilene down to the stockyards in Fort Worth - or, actually, I don't even know where the end of the Chisholm Trail is. But if you're going from Abilene, Kansas, down to Amarillo, in the panhandle, there's not a lot of glamour in that. You come to town, they didn't pay you a lot, it's all you can do to get a shower, I would imagine, from what I read in the biographical dictionaries and such. So nowadays it's changed into a glamorous thing, and there's a bunch of real estate agents running around wearing cowboy hats that don't know the first end of a cow, or how to keep one healthy. It's just kind of a dichotomy, and the actual cowhands that do it for a living that are working right now for $1,200 a month and a pickup truck and a side of beef, and really - they know their animals, they know their cattle. And it's a lot different than putting a number on your back in a rodeo. So that's kind of what 'Cowboy Attitude' came from. It's a little bit tongue-in-cheek."

    Hersey says that a big part of a rodeo is dressing up and looking good. People are more interested in a performance than they are about the animal. "It is a show, and you do have to keep it moving, he says. "I mean, if someone were to walk into the middle of the arena and give a demonstration on how to immunize cattle properly, that's not what the rodeo crowd goes for. They want to see a bull spin around and someone either riding the hell out of it, or not, and see how far they fly. So that's what 'Cowboy Attitude' was about. And that's a true story. That was about a buddy of mine that was too tough to die." Rocky Locke did recover and, says Hersey, "is doing great. But I'm not sure about the hat." (Read more in the Andy Hersey interview.)
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