“Cowboy Take Me Away” is a modern classic – steeped in the overwhelming high of falling in love. It is essential listening from the Dixie Chicks. The tune is off of the second major-label record from the group, Fly, which turned 20 in August.
The wistful tune is synonymous with weepy nuptial balladry. Above all else, it is a universal love story of innocence and wonder and on November 8, 1999, the song became the album’s official second single and topped the Billboard charts in February 2000.
To commemorate the date, rising country star Levi Hummon teamed up with breakout group Runaway June — which recently landed its first-ever Top 5 hit with “Buy My Own Drinks,” for a beautiful interpretation, premiering today on American Songwriter.
“Cowboy has a special place in my heart,” Hummon said. “I remember the first time hearing it as a demo, the first time on the radio and going to the number one party here in Nashville as a kid. It’s a masterpiece of a song, and it’s just so much fun to sing. I’m so excited to honor my dad and the Dixie Chicks 20 years after the song was released.”
Levi’s father Marcus Hummon, also known for penning such hits as Rascal Flatts’ “Bless the Broken Road” and Sara Evans’ “Born to Fly,” co-wrote the song with Dixie Chicks singer and musician Martie Maguire. Originally, it was intended as a wedding dedication for Maguire’s sister Emily Strayer and then-husband and Texas legend Charlie Robison. The band took a shine to it and recorded it proper.
“It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years since the Dixie Chicks cut their beautiful version of Martie’s and my song; although, in truth, there’s a timeless quality to all their work on ‘Fly,’” said the elder Hummon. “What a joy to get to record a version with my new favorite country vocal group, Runaway June, and my favorite new voice in country music… my son, Levi!
“The interplay between Naomi and Levi’s voice really brings out the romance of the lyric; after all, it was a song written for a wedding.”
The quartet of voices bend in unison to create something magical and wholly their own. While they stick quite faithfully to the original, Runaway June’s Naomi Cooke, Jennifer Wayne and Hannah Mulholland make distinctive and refreshing melodic choices. Levi Hummon is the trusty foundation, grounded and smooth, and pins the composition together.
Cooke offers her thoughts, as well: “[This song] is one of the most beautiful, simple love songs ever written. When I was younger, I remember playing this song over and over and over on my sisters’ CD player, singing along and dreaming about the day I would fall in love, too. And now to be able to honor our dear friend Marcus by singing it with his son Levi is truly the deepest honor and dream come true.”
Listen to “Cowboy Take Me Away” below.