Cowboy Junkies

🏷 Folk rock band from Toronto

"Cowboy Junkies Lament" by Cowboy Junkies
🗓
1992

"I'd always been a huge fan of [Townes Van Zandt] for years and years," [Cowboy Junkies songwriter and guitarist Michael] Timmins says. "If there's one person who's influenced me most even before I met him, as far as songwriting goes, it was Townes -- we played his tapes on the bus on the first tour."

So when Cowboy Junkies needed an opener for their "Caution Horses" tour, Timmins steeled himself to call his idol. "We hadn't met him, we were really apprehensive and nervous about it because he was going to travel with us on our bus. But he turned out to be the most amazing gentleman, everything that you could hope and think that he was because of his songs. We really got to know him well."

And Van Zandt got to know the band well enough to write a song about them, so his tantalizingly enigmatic "Cowboy Junkies Lament" takes a place of honor on the album. But Timmins says he still doesn't quite know what to make of it.

"We got the song, and we started to work on it and tried to decipher it -- a lot of Townes's lyrics are like that, very enigmatic," Timmins says. "So after about a month of working on it, I called him up and said, 'Give us a clue, what's going on here?' And he said, 'Well, Mike, the first verse is about you, the second verse is about Margo and the third verse is about Pete.' And since then we've sort of begun to crack the code, so it makes a lot more sense to us now.

"He's a great observer, as you'd guess from his songs, and there are things within the song that he obviously saw while touring with us, that other people wouldn't necessarily see. And being diplomatic about it, he hid them in all these different metaphors," Timmins says, and laughs.

📄 Washington Post
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