Nineties country music was rife with cowboy aesthetic. While some artists were adorned in rhinestoned chaps for cowpoke clout, there was one buckaroo who wasn’t bluffing.
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Chris LeDoux was the real deal. He didn’t just sing about being “Hooked On An 8 Second Ride,” he was an actual ProRodeo Hall of Famer and the only artist to perform, as well as participate in the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. He wrote modern western ballads in which horses were traded in for Cadillacs and a holstered six-shooter was replaced by a Copenhagen ring.
Below are 10 Chris LeDoux classics that prove he was just as much a cowboy as he was a country hitmaker.
10. “Cadillac Cowboy”
10-4 buddy, come on back / A horse trailer on a Cadillac / Yeah, we’re talkin’ to the cowboy / In the Coupe de Ville, plays the chorus of the 1988 hit, “Cadillac Cowboy.”
A bouncy ride of a rodeo tune, the song’s giddy-up strums and honky-tonk keys make for a fun, foot-tapping listen.
9. “County Fair”
His 1991 tune, “Country Fair,” is a song about young love and good times.
A showman both on the stage and out of the chute, LeDoux’s live performances often featured mechanical bull rides and pyrotechnic displays. The below performance of the tune is tame in comparison but showcases his lively appearance in the spotlight.
8. “Western Skies”
My Nashville friends, they think I’m strange / To make my home out on the range, opens the brightly twinkling “Western Skies.” A no-frill songsmith, the tune sums up LeDoux, his lifestyle, and how it seeps into everything he is.
7. “Look At You Girl”
Just look at you, girl / Standin’ here beside me / Starlight on your hair / Lookin’ like a dream / I dreamed somewhere, plays the swoon-inducing “Look At You Girl.” Sweetly sung in LeDoux’s alluring twang, the 1992 ballad is a country love tune for the ages.
6. “Tougher Than the Rest”
The 1995 cover of Bruce Springsteen’s 1987 hit, “Tougher Than the Rest,” did not achieve the success of the Boss’ original, but LeDoux’s country-rendition of the song adds a unique spin on an enduring classic.
5. “Hooked On An 8 Second Ride”
He’s addicted to danger / Ruled by passion and pride / To pain and fear he’s no stranger / But his lust needs to satisfied / Hooked on an 8 second ride, the song’s chorus haunts against a stampede of steel strings and steady beats.
“Hooked On An 8 Second Ride” buzzes with a cinematic country-rock arrangement that mirrors the drama that comes with bull riding.
Copenhagen it makes me feel so good / Copenhagen the way I know it should / I put a little chew in my mouth / Go spittin’ and a-slobberin’ / All around the house, that / Copenhagen, it makes me feel so good, plays LeDoux’s ode to dipping tobacco, “Copenhagen.”
One of the earliest in his catalog, the song pays tribute to the brand and the bad habit in the form of a good timin’ tune.
3. “Whatcha Gonna Do with a Cowboy”
Recorded as a duet with Garth Brooks, the Grammy-nominated “Whatcha Gonna Do with a Cowboy” was LeDoux’s first and only single to reach the top 10. The fun, fiery tune was featured on his 1992 smash hit album of the name.
2. “Cadillac Ranch”
There we called it the Cadillac Ranch / They’re parking cars in the old bean patch / There’s a bar in the barn and the place stays packed / Till the cows come home at Cadillac Ranch, roars the 1992 tune, “Cadillac Ranch,” in a flurry of hammering drums and honky-tonk keys.
“Cadillac Ranch” is a raucous song story, telling the tale of a farm-turned-roadhouse where the music plays, the 90-proof flows, and the good time’s roll.
1. “This Cowboy’s Hat”
You’ll ride a black tornado ‘cross the western sky / Rope an old Blue Norther’ and milk it till it’s dry / Bulldog the Mississippi, pin its ears down flat / Long before you take this cowboy’s hat, plays another of LeDoux’s narrative songs.
“This Cowboy’s Hat” is a chilling tune, one of the singer’s most essential, and perhaps most poignant as it references tradition and sentimentality. The song not only showcases his storytelling abilities but also what it means to be a true blue cowboy in country music.
(Photo by Beth Gwinn/Redferns)