Video: Bill Callahan – “Cowboy”
Directed by Anthony Gasparro and Mikey Kampmann. From Gold Record, out now on Drag City.
Callahan is one of those artists where I’ve liked every song I’ve heard by them but I don’t own any of their albums because their discography is so large and I don’t know where to start. You’d think that the ease of streaming would solve this conundrum but for dingdongs like me, having immediate access to everything only compounds the issue.
Back in the day, I would stumble across a CD in the used bin for $6 and just pick it up and start there. Allow synchronicity and kismet to set the path.
But it’s been a while since I’ve been to the record store, and besides, the knowledge that I could just go home and stream anything puts up a mental barrier that stops me from pulling the trigger. So instead I just end up buying another copy of one of those Rolling Stones ABKCO SACDs that I pick up whenever I see them. It’s a problem.
So here’s another great song from another Bill Callahan album I don’t own. Maybe I’ll start with this one and work backwards. That’s a good idea. That’s a plan!
Callahan told Apple Music that “Cowboy” is “kind of nostalgic for the way TV used to be. There would be a later movie, and then later there was a late, late movie. If you were staying up to watch that, it would usually be after The Tonight Show. That meant something. It meant you’re up pretty late, for whatever reason. You might be being irresponsible, or you might just be indulging yourself. Now that TV is on demand, I don’t think anyone really watches late-night shows at night anymore—they just watch the highlights the next day. So on one level, it’s about that loss of sense of place that TV used to give you, because it was a much more fixed thing. And that kind of correlates to watching a Western, because that’s about a time that is also gone. I was just thinking about that, the time of your life when you can just watch a movie at two in the morning.”
Trying to fit it all in
Before the test pattern and the anthem
And off to bed you go, and off to sleep
And off to dream that trail you ride.
Ride along, little doggies. Ride along.