With the exception of a community of Texas artists, there seems to be an overwhelming lack of genuine cowboys in country music. It would seem that Jon Pardi has been on a crusade to change that, but if you missed the subtleties, he plays his hand with his new single, “Ain’t Always the Cowboy.”
Jon’s newest single, which is currently climbing the charts, fights the stereotype of restless rodeo cowboys like the ones depicted in George Strait’s “I Can Still Make Cheyenne” and “Amarillo By Morning,” and Garth Brooks “Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old).” In “Ain’t Always the Cowboy,” it isn’t the vaquero that is leaving, but instead is being left behind.
The music video for “Ain’t Always the Cowboy,” gives a face to the one who is leaving. Set on a desolate ranch surrounded by saguaro and tumbleweed, a cowgirl puts her pony through its paces, relentlessly repeating the cloverleaf. The repetition of the practice matches her unsettled spirit:
“It ain’t always the cowboy / That ain’t got a lot of hang around, / Ain’t got no settle down in their boots, / Gone’s just what they do / That restless running, searching for somethin’ / Leavin’ love in the dust of a midnight Chevrolet / It ain’t always the cowboy that rides away.”
Jon, a competitive team roper, is a fitting narrator in this story of unrequited love. His mournful voice seems to rise up against the nearby mountains, yet there isn’t as much a tone of regret in his voice as there is an acceptance, as if a western fairy tale ending was never expected.
Maybe when touring resumes in 2021, Jon and Cody Johnson can take their rodeo and country show on the road together.