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{Off The Cuff} The Cowboy Song by Josh Grider

In 1998 I was a senior in high school in Las Cruces, NM. Looking back, I didn’t really know up from down, and never in a million years could I have imagined I’d be writing this, sitting where I am right now. I knew I was going to go to college, and by that time I had figured out that I would study music.
My folks and I traveled to a few different schools so I could audition and see what kind of scholarship money there was to be had. One such trip was to Belmont University in Nashville, TN. I was particularly excited about this audition because I felt like I could really play some music that I dug, and really showcase myself doing what I loved to do. I didn’t have to sing an aria, or a classical piece, but I could sing a contemporary country song and accompany myself on guitar. The song I chose to sing was one of my favorites at the time, and remains so to this day. It was called “The Cowboy Song” and was the last track on Garth Brooks’ In Pieces album. I went, I sang, and I didn’t end up attending Belmont. End of story?

As many of you know I attended Baylor University in Waco, TX, saw Pat Green set up and play a set on the Mars Mclean gym floor and decided I had to start a band. I did, and 10 years later I’m still at it. On my most recent radio tour in support of the lead single from my most recent album Sweet Road to Ride I found myself at KYOX in Comanche, TX being interviewed by an extremely nice lady DJ named Jerri Lynn Robinson. We did the typical “where’ve you been”, “how’s it going”, “what’s this song about” routine, and then she said something that I immediately resented. She told me she knew how tough it was “out on the road” and that she knew this because her husband was a musician. My first inkling was that she actually had no idea what it was like. I’d been 2000 miles in 4 days and she was radio station number 20 on my list of 30. In my head I thought, “that’s nice of you to say, but quite frankly you have no idea what it’s like ‘out on the road’ and I’m sure your husband is a great rhythm guitar player in praise and worship band at church” (cynical much? I’m just being honest). Out loud I said, “really, that’s cool, what does he play?” She proceeded to inform me that her husband got his start in Austin, played bass for Janis Joplin for a little while, has had his own bands, had a Santana cut, and then had a bit of a dry spell until Garth Brooks cut one of his tunes in the nineties. She had my full attention at Janis Joplin, and by the time she finished her entire statement I was reminded again why we have thoughts and we have statements and sometimes speaking your mind can make you look really bad. “What Garth cut did he have?” I asked. She told me I probably wouldn’t know it, but I was a song called “The Cowboy Song.” I couldn’t believe it.

I proceeded to give her the story I just gave you. She thought it was great and that her husband would love to hear that story, so she called him up on the phone. He said that if I could stick around for a minute, he’d love to come to the station and meet me. That is how I first met Amos Staggs. He came to the station, and we talked for a little while about this and that and found out we had some mutual friends both musical and non. He said he’d love to “make up a song with me” if I got the chance.

Well friends, I got the chance. I’m sitting on Jerri Lynn and Amos’ couch right now, and we just wrote one of coolest songs I’ve had the pleasure of being a part of. It’s 1:32 am on Tuesday morning February 23, 2010 and my mind is reeling about how cool life can be. When I was a teenager in New Mexico, Garth was it for me, and if you told me 15 years later I’d be rubbing elbows and swapping lines with guys who wrote songs that Garth would record, I don’t think I’d have believed you. Hell, I might have been disappointed. At that time I thought having your name in the big print on the front of the album was the goal. Little did I know, or appreciate the art of songwriting then. I’ve heard stories from Amos this evening that I’ll never forget and horribly retell to some of you one of these days. This evening has been nothing short of a treat.

For all the nights me and my fellow brothers in the road get together and bitch about the state of the music business, and how hard it truly is out on the road, it’s nights like these, and Valentine’s day at the White Elephant, and every time I play Gruene Hall that remind me I am one of the luckiest dudes I know. Sometimes I forget that. It’s a weird, hard, disappointing life, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I just wanted to share that with you.

See you down the road.

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