Boots, Buckles & Spurs: 50 Songs Celebrate 50 Years of Cowboy Tradition

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Compiled to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the National Finals Rodeo, this three-CD box set traces the ongoing evolution of songs about cowboys in the genre that—it’s worth remembering—used to be called “Country and Western.” It’s a revealing journey that demonstrates just how durable the image of the rugged, individualistic roper-and-rider has been throughout the past century.
Boots, Buckles & Spurs saddles up in 1939 with Gene Autry’s “Back in the Saddle Again,” and dismounts 68 years later with Brooks & Dunn’s “Cowboy Town.” In between, we discover the ways in which many of country’s greatest artists have found in the cowboy a useful and malleable metaphor. When Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings sing “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,” for example, the way of life they’re really warning against is their own. That such warnings usually don’t work testifies to the allure of both cowboys and country music.

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