Where Have All the Cowboys Gone? Lyrics - Paula Cole
Review The Song (29)
Oh you get me ready in your 56 chevy
Why don't we go sit down in the shade
Take shelter on my front porch
The dandy lion sun scorching,
Like a glass of cold lemonade
I will do the laundry if you pay all the bills
Where is my John Wayne
Where is my prairie son
Where is my happy ending
Where have all the cowboys gone
Why don't you stay the evening
Kick back and watch the TV
And I'll fix a little something to eat
Oh I know your back hurts from working on the tractor
How do you take your coffee my sweet
I will raise the children if you pay all the bills
I am wearing my new dress tonight
But you don't, but you don't even notice me
Say our goodbyes
Say our goodbyes
Say our goodbyes
We finally sold the chevy
When we had another baby
And you took the job in tennessee
You made friends at the farm
And you joined them at the bar
Almost every single day of the week
I will wash the dishes while you go have a beer
Where is my Marlboro man
Where is his shiny gun
Where is my lonely ranger
Where have all the cowboys gone
Where have all the cowboys gone
Where have all the cowboys gone
Yippee aw, yippee yea (6 times)
Writer: COLE, PAULA
Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
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What this song means | Reviewer: Anonymous | 3/31/13
I don't think most people here are getting it. This song is supposed to be warning women about what happens when you give up yourself to the nostalgic dream of a "cowboy" who will take care of you, happily becoming dependent from him (paying all the bills is all he does). What happens is life goes on, he will eventually get bored of you (stops noticing her), get on with his own life (new job, new friends) and you'll be left alone and powerless wandering where you went wrong and complaining about the lack of "real" cowboys. Sadly many girls are raised to think this way , waiting for the "prince" or the "cowboy", and most of them end up unhappy.
The main aspect...? | Reviewer: dee | 5/22/12
Whenever I hear this song, I think it shows a general dilemma known everywhere and here it is:
Woman who dream of a cowboy tend to like his wildness, his independece, roughness, his lonesome-wolf-ness. He's a "real man" in a traditional sense. They want him. The only problem is, once you have him, you start "taming" him which is what these women secretly want. The cowboy who then becomes part of a relationship can't remain an independent lonesome cowboy at the same time. And if he did, he'd hurt his woman because she has all kinds of needs. But when he's "tamed", settled-down, he's not anymore the cowboy that she wanted. It's an paradox but makes perfect sense.
I think in the beginning of the song she meets him while he still is a cowboy or close to one. Then he sort of settles down (job other than cowboy, friends, bars) but on his inside, he always keeps his independence - he doesn't get close to her and keeps her emtionally at bay.
And to her, he's not a cowboy anymore (b/c he actually isn't) but only a cold man who leaves her lonesome (he'd probably say: "I'm independent, what does she want?").
Stupidly enough, she doesn't realize the paradox and goes on to dream of a REAL cowboy, a REAL hero who'll rescue her out of this situation. Cause this one really didn't pan out. She doesn't get it.
notes | Reviewer: Dan | 1/28/12
Fully agree with some posters .. and wonder about the relationships of others. Even when a man has a hard day, or a woman has a hard day. Its wonderful to appreciate the one that binds their heart to yours. Life is a beautiful dance, but its a shelter of loneliness, when your partner is missing. Show them you love them, appreciate them. That they are never forgotten in a kiss, in flowers, in sweet words. Remember you only can do this life great once. So make the most of it. Sure have a beer every now and again, go out with friends .. but at least notice them. I would say where have all the cowgirls gone as well.
Hugs and Love | Reviewer: Anonymous | 8/31/11
I totally get what she's saying in this song. I'm in a situation that's similiar. Sure the guy works all day but do you really think the woman has it any easier. EVERYONE wants hugs, love and gratitude. And going to a bar every once in a while is fine, but sometimes you can stay home and appreciate your wife too!
Another girl finding things to be angry about... | Reviewer: Anonymous | 4/9/11
I love the way this song sounded when it first came out, but it was the lyrics that finally killed it for me. Poor guy is out working on his tractor and at the end of the day he's tired. Such is life--she certainly doens't seem to have a thankful spirit in this song. The whole tone of the song is off--like someone said, she's bartering. Too many women these days talk about how HORRIBLE it would be to have to stay home and take care of someone that pays their bills. MY God. I guess its so much better to go to work at some desk job and have people demand things of you there for minimum wage under the lovely glow of florescent lighting and paperwork. No thanks, I'll take my adorable little babies who coo and gurgle where I can have a leisurely coffee break and read a book when all's quiet, or go poke around in the garden with my toddlers playing in the mud. If my husband wants a beer at the end of the day, then go for it! Enjoy your friends, because my day's already been awesome. I do have a cowboy and we do live on a farm. And as is typcial with songs like this, it comes from some modern woman who thinks she knows everything about everyone's life. It gets a little tiresome hearing other women complain about how bad my life with my husband must be. And people wonder why we stay-at-home moms get a little defensive sometimes? Anyone who tells me that putting dishes in a dishwasher and folding clean warm laundry is terrible has some sort of brain damage.
what an idiot | Reviewer: Henry | 4/7/11
All she wants is a little gratitude for all she does. A hug here and then, time spent with her and not the beer. But he wouldn´t understand what´s wrong with him. The idiots getting the nice girls, it hasn´t changed since school days.
hmmm... | Reviewer: Anonymous | 4/14/10
So I think there are 2 conflicting points of view addressed in this song. In the beginning, she seems to legitimately want some of the more positive aspects of a traditional relationship, and as the song progresses, she addresses some of the more negative aspects. The entire song is transcended by conflicting tones of sarcasm and nostalgic longing that emphasize both sides of the coin. When you think about it, some of the good things in the beginning and bad things at the end are common things in a relationship whether it is the classic or modern kind. Like many successful artists before her, she seems to let you draw your own conclusion through personal interpretation. However, I just can’t shake the feeling that the dominating emotion for her when she wrote this song is the one reflected in taking the song at face value. After all, if you read the wiki article about her, it sounds like her parents were more of the modern than cowboy type, and probably raised her in that fashion. According to further details in the wiki article, she seems to have embraced the modern way. I think that when it comes down to it, this song is about her accepting that even with all the problems associated with a traditional relationship, there is some basic fulfillment to be had that can’t be found any other way. And when she is addressing that point of view, she is committing the ultimate act of rebellion by accepting what has become the status quo to rebel against. It’s a beautiful piece of poetry, and I haven’t even mentioned how musically appealing it is yet. It is easy to see how this song made her famous.
my view | Reviewer: Jala | 1/4/10
I think the song describes the life of many women. When we are young we have the idea that we need to be saved by a hero, in her case a cowboy. We bargain with someone we fall for, that's why she offers to do dishes and housework. But reality sets in and we begin to feel used and pushed to the side, even by the best of men.
In the beginning of the song she is taking care of him, which means he's there with her, but later in the years his attention has turned to his friends. She is home all day and wants him to rescue her from the life she thought she wanted. Him having a beer is not the problem. The problem is he doesn't notice her even when they are together. She's longing for love while he is longing to get away. Her relationship seems to be falling apart, and she knows it.
he's no cowboy | Reviewer: Amanda | 8/6/09
I think in the song, the "cowboy" is supposed to be the good guy that she wants. She tells you what's going on in her life, like she's remembering (and regretting) the deals she made with this man. Then she goes to say, where have all the cowboys gone? Where have all the hard working, chivalrous, help-me-do-the-dishes, rescue me from danger, ride in the dessert and still look gorgeous, knows-how-to-treat-a-woman-right, men gone?? She's saying that the man she has isn't a cowboy, and that she wants one, but she can't find one.
That's just my view, though =);
but I love this song, it plays in my store everyday!
A Twist | Reviewer: Anonymous | 3/24/09
I think there might be just a little more to the song than most people realize. It's true that it's making an observation about the fate of many women who buy into a certain aesthetic, i.e. marrying the Marlboro man, being his housewife, etc. But notice the lines where she seems to be negotiating ("I will do the laundry" and (later) "raise the children," "if you pay all the bills"). I don't think it's a coincidence that the "if you pay all the bills" gets reiterated; a big part of what this girl was looking for in a man was a bread-winner. And that's what she got, but not much else.
So, yeah, this song is about how many women get taken for granted by their "cowboys," and possibly about how only a few men are real men. But it's also (at least a little) about what can happen when you make life-changing decisions before you've even come close to figuring out what really matters.
How much is enough | Reviewer: Anonymous | 2/24/09
I especially like her passive, obedient nature. She'd be OK until you meet some whacked out stripper you can live off of. She will wash the dishes while you go have a beer, hold this wrench, now go take off your clothes and wait for me in the bedroom. Good dog, here's a puparoni.
Where have all the cowboys gone | Reviewer: Luke | 2/10/09
I live in NYC and the only cowboys here are gays. this guy sounds like a gay who wants to hang out with guys all the time. What type of man does not come home and has someone wait on him hand and foot? She is not a nigger slave you know
i wouldnt say its 'typical' | Reviewer: Nikki | 12/28/08
this song touches heart for the many mothers at home, cooking, cleaning, managing bills, raising their children and providing a ground to stand on for our cowboys. For example, my husband works hard and brings me the money. I work just as hard at home doing the things I do. Without each other, we would be lost. However, I believe the lyrics to this song nail it on the head to be frank.. I feel resentment towards him occasionally because he is able to 'live' that life and enjoy his work and friends... "his adult conversation".. while we beautiful cowgirls know baby talk and how to clean up after our sloppy cowboys. ;) Good song. I love it!
Not ironic ..? | Reviewer: Anonymous | 1/25/08
''Irony is a disparity between what happens, and what you expect to happen. Her song is not ironic at all.''
Sounds like thats a perfect description of her song, no? She expects a white-knightlike cowboy but hers doesn't notice her and goes out drinking. Then again, I guess he does pay the bills so yeah ...
Memories | Reviewer: katherine | 1/16/08
I grew up listening o paula cole. My memories of my dad's house are dancing around the studio appartment and cooking dinner blasting this song. It has made great memories that will last a lifetime, and the song will always be one of my favorites. Her voice is beautiful and different then most I have heard.
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