Country-pop crossover was at its peak in the late ’70s and early ’80s, and our tape cases were populated by Charlie Daniels, Dolly Parton and “Urban Cowboy,” alongside Blondie, Queen and Meat Loaf. Strange bedfellows, it seems, but it worked for us.
Nowhere was this broad appeal more evident than in the seat of a pick-up, traveling for hours to a livestock show. We jammed three, four of us, along with our ag teacher, into the truck, and off we’d go to Denver or Kansas City, a trailer full of show cattle behind us. And the music pushed us through the night. We couldn’t get a consensus on Pink Floyd or Waylon Jennings, but it was easy to find common ground.
This morning, Rodney Crowell’s original version of this song popped into my Spotify feed, which led me to a brief binge in classic era Oak Ridge Boys. It’s hokey now, but the memory has a soft focus and Polaroid tint. There’s Brad Rayburn, a goosedown vest and a trucker’s hat, singing it as we drive through the Panhandle. He always rides shotgun.