Sunday, October 2, 2011

Much LeDoux about cowboys

Chris LeDoux was a true cowboy.
By Al Tays

We're mighty happy
those cowboy boots
didn't fit Al Tays --
not that he doesn't
know a good ropin'
song when he hears it.
 During my country and western period (1990-95, when I lived in Atlanta and decided to "go native") one of my favorite songs was Chris LeDoux's "Whatcha Gonna Do With a Cowboy?" in which he's joined by Garth Brooks. I don't listen to C&W radio anymore, so I hear that song only when the shuffle function on my iPod cues it up. But the witty lyrics, zippy fiddle and catchy tune never fail to make me smile. And I think about how LeDoux wasn't just a guy with a hat singing about cowboys -- he really was one. He won the world bareback riding championship at the National Finals Rodeo in 1976.

And then I think what a shame it is that Chris LeDoux died before his time.

Born on this date in 1948, LeDoux was 51 in 2000 when he was diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitis, a chronic liver disease.

He had to have a liver transplant. Brooks volunteered to be a donor, but his tissue was incompatible. LeDoux underwent a transplant from another donor later that year. Four years later he was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma, cancer of the bile ducts, and died on March 9, 2005.

Shorty after LeDoux's death, Brooks recorded the song "Good Ride Cowboy" as a tribute. "I knew if I ever recorded any kind of tribute to Chris, it would have to be up-tempo, happy ... a song like him ... not some slow, mournful song," Brooks said in an interview with CMT. "He wasn't like that."

Thinking about LeDoux and "Whatcha Gonna Do With a Cowboy?" got me thinking about how many songs with "Cowboy" (or "Cowgirl") in the title are among my favorites. And make no mistake -- I'm no cowboy. This Boston tenderfoot (literally) tried wearing cowboy boots in Atlanta and found them to be the most uncomfortable things he ever put on his feet. And I'm allergic to horses. But I love these songs:

Whatcha Gonna Do With a Cowboy? (Chris LeDoux and Garth Brooks)
The Cowboy Tune, also known as The End is not in Sight, (Amazing Rhythm Aces)
Honky-Tonk Stardust Cowboy (Jonathan Edwards)
Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys (Willie Nelson)
King of the Cowboys (Amazing Rhythm Aces)
Should've Been a Cowboy (Toby keith)
What the Cowgirls Do (Vince Gill)

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