The singing cowboy used to be a standard back in the 50’s. From Gene Autry, the actual “Singing Cowboy,” through Roy Rogers, on to The Mellomen (who featured the rumbling bass voice of Thurl Ravenscroft), a lot of people married the Western visual of the cowboy on the range to the songs of Country. In 1973, Elton John could sing a twangy country-western tune “of roundups and rustlers and home on the range” without any trace of hipsterism or post-modern irony.
We’ve lost one of the last of them today: the yodeling cowboy, Slim Whitman.
He maybe didn’t get a tribute quite as exotic or heartfelt as Sir Elton’s, but he was name-dropped in one of my favorite tunes:
I put on a Slim Whitman tape Mama wore a brand-new hair net Kids are in the back seat Jumping up and down, saying “Are we there yet?” And all of us were bound together in one common thought As we rolled down the long and winding interstate in our ’53 DeSota We’re gonna see the biggest ball of twine in Minnesota!
More importantly, he seemed like a man of decent heart and good humor, such as in the closing quote from the linked obituary above:
I don’t think you’ve ever heard anything bad about me, and I’d like to keep it that way. I’d like my son (Bryon) to remember me as a good dad. I’d like the people to remember me as having a good voice and a clean suit.
But if that’s not enough, one of the standards he had a hit with was later remade (in a matter of speaking) very famously:
Hey, if you’re still famous in the 23rd century, you’re doing something right. Godspeed, Mr. Whitman.