Cowboys ain’t easy to love and they’re harder to hold
They’d rather give you a song then diamonds or gold
Lonestar belt buckles and old faded Levi’s and each night begins a new day
If you don’t understand him and he don’t die young
He’ll probably just ride away.Mamas’ don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys
Don’t let ’em pick guitars or drive them old trucks
Let ’em be doctors and lawyers and such
Mamas’ don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys
‘Cause they’ll never stay home and they’re always alone
Even with someone they love.- Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson
One day last winter when we were in AZ, we stopped at a little bistro near us for some wine and appetizers. We were with some friends and Bill and I had just seen the wild horses for the first time. Seeing wild horses makes me hungry and thirsty. It was happy hour, and we sat outside.
It happened that they were offering live music. A man of Baby Boomer age was playing guitar and singing country music. Random for something called a bistro, but it is, after all, the Wild Wild West. And he was quite good. Or maybe it was the wine.
He struck up a song…Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys. The people enjoying the music on the patio —including the four of us — were all swaying to the three-four waltz rhythm and singing along.
When he finished, the singer asked the crowd, “Does anyone know who recorded that song?”
Before you could say Ride ‘em Cowboy, Bill hollared out, “Waylon Jennings!”
What? Now how in the world did he remember that?
“How in the world did you remember that?” I asked him.
“Beats the hell out of me,” he answered. “It just came to me.”
Many years ago, when Bill moved to Colorado from Chicago, he went all in, as Bill is wont to do. He bought a pickup truck, a horse, a cowboy hat and cowboy boots. And he started listening to country music. And those were the days when country music was, well, COUNTRY. Willie Nelson. Glen Campbell. Johnny Cash. And Waylon Jennings. As we age, while we can’t remember where we put our phone, we can remember things like who sang what country song.
As an aside, recently we were talking about things to do in Mesa with these same friends. Denice told me that there is a house located on the Arizona Golf Resort property where the television program Bonanza was partially recorded. “You know,” she said, “where the Cartwright’s cook prepared their meals. What was his name again?”
And before you could say Little Joe, I said, “Hop Sing.” Now where in the world did THAT come from? Our friends must think we’re really smart. Ha.
Anyhoo, back to Waylon. Fast forward a few months. I’m watching the PBS Ken Burns series about the history of country music. As usual, I am Wikipedia-ing all sorts of things as I watch. One of the things I googled was the background of Waylon Jennings. Lo, and behold, I learned that he was buried in the City of Mesa Cemetery.
Can you say Field Trip?
So on Saturday, when Bill was so bored that he was considering cleaning his workbench in the garage, I suggested we take the half-hour drive to the cemetery and find the gravestone. We had planned on waiting for our friends who shared the Waylon Jennings song-recognition-shout-out by Bill, but he was mighty bored.
I’ll leave you with two things: 1) We didn’t leave the beer bottles and cigarettes. They were already there. And 2) That song is now so stuck in my mind that I don’t think it will ever leave.