My family is full of cow people. It’s a lot easier for me to count the number of people on Dad’s side who were not dairy farmers than it is to try and tally up how many of us were Holstein-hoarders. While the rise of consolidated farm corporations forced the last of the family to give up the dairy business in about 2009…there are still plenty of cows around. It’s like a disease. Cows aren’t easy to have around. They require more work and money than you’d think. But, even though the family has all sought work off the farms and the milking barns are closed up, they don’t know how to give up having at least a few of those mooing, bellowing, chud-chewers around. Even I still cling to the small dream of having my own place with room for a cow, despite the realities and facts I know about the damn things.
So when I was giving my first listen to Corb Lund’s new album, Cabin Fever, and “Cows Around” came on, I found myself clutching the steering wheel trying not to laugh myself right off the road (I was driving to visit Kristy at the time).
Every Corb Lund album gives me at least one dance-able western-swing style song (like “Little Foothills Heaven” on Hair In My Eyes Like A Highland Steer), and usually at least one song full of humor (like “Family Reunion” from Horse Soldier! Horse Soldier!). This time, the two collided in one fabulous ear-worm. The musical style and tune are very jaunty–it’s an instant toe-tapper. It would be great for a really fast turn around the dance floor (think of the speed and style of something like Vince Gill/Reba McEntire’s “Oklahoma Swing”). And then the lyrics, oh my. If you don’t have first hand knowledge of the cow-ownership malady I described above, the song will sum up the situation concisely: “Let me bestow this western blessing / Share what I have found / May you always have cows around / What else you gonna spend that extra money on? / What else is gonna get you up, hours before dawn?….” On the surface, it’s funny because it’s the juxtaposition is ridiculous. And for those of us who’ve encountered this, it’s hilarious for its accuracy.
And, if the cultural education provided by this depiction of the bizarre love-hate relationship cattle owners have with maintaining a herd, then you may at least appreciate the chance at 2:34 into the song to get a nicely rhymed listing of various breeds of cattle (both beef and dairy).