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Cowboy (Kid Rock song)

"Cowboy" is a song by Kid Rock from his album Devil Without a Cause. The song, noted for its country rap style, reflects a cross-section of Kid Rock's country music, Southern rock and hip hop influences,[1][2] having been described by the artist as a cross between Run DMC and Lynyrd Skynyrd.[5]

Cowboy Kid Rock.jpg
Single by Kid Rock
from the album Devil Without a Cause
Released August 17, 1999
Recorded Temper Mill Studios, Detroit, Michigan
Length 4:17
Label Atlantic
Songwriter(s) R. J. Ritchie, Matthew Shafer, James Trombly, John Travis
Producer(s) John Travis, Kid Rock
Kid Rock singles chronology
"Only God Knows Why"
"Only God Knows Why"

With its lyrics about pimping and traveling to California, the song is considered to be one of Kid Rock's best works, and has been claimed as greatly influencing modern country music[1][2][5][6] and as the first country rap song.[2]



Musically, "Cowboy" is a fusion of hip hop, country music, Southern rock and heavy metal.[2] Billboard, as well as Kid Rock himself, described the song as a cross between Run DMC and Lynyrd Skynyrd.[6][5] The song's music style has been described as "country rap",[1][2] "cowboy rap"[5] and "rap rock".[3][4] AXS called it "the first country rap song".[2]

The instrumentation includes Jew's harp, blues harmonica and a piano solo.[5] It also contains a sample of vocals from the 1967 song "Different Strokes" by Syl Johnson,[7] and an interpolation of Ennio Morricone's main theme from the 1966 spaghetti Western The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.[8]

The lyrics feature Kid Rock rapping about moving to California to become a pimp, and start an escort service "for all the right reasons", located at the top of the Four Seasons Hotel, as well as getting thrown out of bars and buying a yacht.[5][9]


In 2002, the music group Boys Don't Cry filed suit against Kid Rock, claiming the song "Cowboy" was derivative of their 1986 synth-pop track "I Wanna Be a Cowboy", and alleged that Kid Rock, while DJ'ing in Detroit, had played the song; the suit claimed that Kid Rock had taken the bassline and adapted his chorus from the 1986 song.[10]


"Cowboy" was named one of the "ten worst songs about cowboys" by the Houston Press,[11] while numerous other critics and journalists have called it one of Kid Rock's best songs, including writers for AXS and Billboard.[2][5][6]

The Village Voice writer Chaz Kangas called "Cowboy" a classic song, writing, "in the Clinton era when your most viable pop stars were pristine teen-pop sensations, raucous nu-metal antagonists or alternative-to-alternative-to-alternative rock weirdos, Rock stood alone. It’s been a surprising 15 years since, but 'Cowboy' remains one track from this era that’s timeless without even trying to be."[12]


"Cowboy" is considered to be the first country rap song, and was influential on the music styles described as "hick-hop" and "bro country".[2][6] Cowboys & Indians claims that "Cowboy" had a major impact on the country music scene; the magazine alleges that artists Jason Aldean and Big & Rich, among others, were influenced by the song's country rap style.[1]

Country singer Kenny Chesney has covered the song in concert in 2009 and 2016, the latter with Kid Rock on Chesney's Spread the Love Tour.[13][14][15][16][17]

In 2017, Kid Rock joined country singer Chris Janson on stage for mashup of Janson's song "Buy Me A Boat" and "Cowboy".[18]


Chart (1999) Peak
British Singles Chart 36
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 82
U.S. Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks 10
U.S. Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks 5
U.S. Billboard Top 40 Mainstream 34
Australian Singles Chart 52


  • Kid Rock - vocals,banjo, acoustic guitar, piano, harp
  • Bobby East - slide guitar, electric guitar
  • Matt O'Brien - bass guitar
  • Kenny Tudrick - drums
  • Misty Love - background vocals
  • Shirley Hayden - background vocals


External linksEdit