The term ‘cowboy’ has been extended and over-used to the point where every self-styled cool guy from a specific geography gets to call himself whatever. Twentieth and twenty-first centurions hardly qualify. But they still sing about the life, even straight-faced to God on his birthday.
A friend of Muddy Jack’s, Juddy Mac, has penned and strummed a number about an hombre that helped him when he had car trouble around the holidays. Wishing the good samaritan a “Cowboy Christmas,” he yippie-ki-yai-ays his troubles as if he were deserving of the assignation. Close, but no cimarron. Appreciate the talent, though.
Clay Walker’s “Cowboy Christmas” has screechy pop fiddlin’, but it’s about a day-late, dollar-short loser off the rodeo circuit who can’t face the family. Dude, i says.
Moe Brandy remembers what must be “A Cowboy Christmas” while slogging through Christmas tree farms. Good memory. Country pop sing song.
Let’s polish off the saddle horn with a last near-miss sentiment from Don Edwards. “Every Day is Christmas in the West” is thoughtful set of similes making the cowboys’ travails like your decorated front room. Pretty.
“Ridin’ Trails with Jesus” compares the wandering cowpoke to the life of man. David Shook compels some gospel from some half-baked country.
Mary Kaye’s “It All Began in a Barn” compares some old farm outbuilding to the beginning of forgiveness. Farmer’s Xmas song?
Cathy Jones ponders the possibility with “If There had been Cowboys” the first Christmas night in a song that reaches farther than its manure roots can support. Now, what if there had been face-recognition software in Herod’s kingdom?
Most fun with the contrast, Three Day Threshold and Summer Villains lean into the genre with “The Ballad of Baby Jesus.” I like it when they drawl ‘King of the Jews’ with a Texan accent like he’s some gunslinger to contend with.
Iffen we don’t compare cowboys to Santa, p’raps we could compare them to three men who rode far to deliver unto the Lord some stuff.
Most strange, a one-act play ‘A Cowboy’s Christmas‘ hit Philadelphia in 1944. The operatic finale “A Cowboy Carol” featured three rangers figuring out how the world was about to become a better place right at a manger around Christmas time. Nate Tripp leads us to the new world beginning tonight. This musical is a worldwide sensation. Not so much here.
“Riding the Range for Jesus” is a vocal exercise of some dubiousness. Of the many gospel place-fillers to choose from i’ll click on father son duet Byron and Slim Whitman. ‘Cuz of the yodeling.
The best metaphor for the wise men a la cowboys is “Corn, Water, and Wood,” a magic realism mirage on the December badlands. This is best done by Michael Martin Murphy. Riders in the Sky do a pretty, subdued version with haunting harmonies. Bryndle adds a percussive ethereal quality. But i want to feature Barry Ward and his rough hewn throatiness. Sounds like prayer.
Walter Giblin launches us unto a genre collision of Santa Claus and the western laying of hands upon wild stock in order to get the travels accomplished. “Good Ole Santa’s Reindeer Ranch” is a folk beater of supposition to consider. The growling gets bluesy.
“Santa’s Roundup” encapsulates what we’re going for. Mary Kaye yodels into country pop to signal the mish mash of the fun here.
What’s Santa Claus do in his down time? Break broncs? Soap his saddle? Stare out into the wilderness until guided to his bedstead by those who care?
A sinister image, the red rider bearing down on you with his sack. “Far from the North Pole” is odd madness from Death Tongue that collapses one mythology into another. Just my cup of Glühwein.
Even more ‘Something Awful’ “Santa and Them Ingin Mans.” This spoken word acid trip from Lifepuzzler (feat. Stalwart Betamax) delivers the greatest gift of all: absurdity. (Well, racial tolerance, actually.)
So, the long riders are settled in and Christmas is come. What’s that like?
Working through the day, a cowboy can still celebrate. Follow the extended analogy of “Cowboy Christmas” with Erin Enderlin. I think you’ll find all our traditions reflected in his world.
Red Steagall & The Boy’s in the Bunkhouse begin in melancholy but take the journey to joy in “A Cowboy’s Special Christmas.” Happy endings for everyone (except Jesus)!
“When the Cowboys Sing Again” reveal a bit of festive bravado from the stoic men’s men. Flying W Wranglers make them seem, well not joyous with their hard driving bluegrass, but glee(club)ful.
Michael Martin Murphey feels the excitement in the old time square with “Christmas Cowboy Style.” Popcorn, singing, riding. Caution: may contain yodeling. Still, fun. (Nelson Graham does this as a distant observer.)