In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well. This week, we’re picking some of our favorite songs about cowboys.
“Cowboy” is not one of the best Sugarcubes songs. I would be shocked if it’s anybody’s favorite song by the Icelandic band that launched Björk’s career. But for a brief time in high school—12 specific minutes—it was unquestionably my favorite. To pass a particular gym unit, every student had to run 1.5 miles in 12 minutes, which isn’t all that hard—but for a chubber who’d rather just sit around and listen to music than exercise, it was a bit of a challenge. On the plus side, though, this was the only gym unit that the discipline-loving Mr. Schober would allow us to bring in a Walkman for. (Kids, that’s like an iPod, only it plays a tape or CD, and just one at a time.) Anyway, for some reason I found “Cowboy”—which was a bonus track on the band’s first album, Life’s Too Good—to be massively helpful in keeping me moving. It’s a weird, deranged song dominated by co-lead-singer Einar Örn, a.k.a. the person sing-shouting in The Sugarcubes who is not Björk, and who lots of people wished would quiet down a little bit so Björk could sing more. (For the record, that’s not my opinion—I always loved the weird juxtaposition.) Örn growls and shouts his way through a nonsensical story about a cowboy in the city, and how a man’s best friend is his pony, but there’s such a primal energy to the nonsense that it somehow kept me moving around that quarter-mile track six times. Eventually, it should be noted, Björk shows up to wax weird about the cowboy: “I wanna eat him!” she exclaims. Until today, I always thought Örn’s final vocal expulsions were, “I’m a weird cowboy!” But the Internet seems to believe—and this sort of makes sense—that he’s actually a “were-cowboy,” who got a “silver bullet through my heart.” Still doesn’t make any damn sense, but it sure helped me run fast. Or at least medium.