Why I Like the Cowboy Junkies

Neither cowboy nor junkie (I hope), the Cowboy Junkies have been making and delivering music for almost three decades.  I never really knew the band until last night, but I have always loved their name.  Cowboy Junkies.  Are they junkies for cowboys?  I think instead they are junkies for being a cowboy.  Many years ago Corey and I were driving our 1998 2 door Jeep Cherokee north into Nova Scotia with the sky darkening ahead and a sunset out the driver’s side window and I thought of us as cowboys (on a steel horse we ride- apologies to Bon Jovi).   To cowboy, for us, is to put a little art in the wander. After seeing them last night (and writing it up for Splash), I now like them for their music.  They’re good.  Not great, but better than many.  And they are more than capable of haunting every inch of venue with their delightfully gloomy sound.

Before seeing them last night I stumbled unto their website.  A prominent part of their site is their “tour diary” and it felt a lot like this blog in that you could never be quiet sure who was writing what, not everything was flattery, and it talked a lot about being on the road.  They talked up watching hockey in bars and on their tour bus, complained about dressing rooms and a lack of respect given, and were appreciative of being allowed to use washing machines and dryers in Omaha.  In concert last night they sighed at the thought of doing back to back shows (I saw their first gig at 7 and they were on again at 10) and applauded not only the audience, but the good parking at the venue.  The miles beneath their feet were evident in Margo Timmins deliberate pacing on stage as well in the stories she hinted at (which I knew more about after reading their blog but still much less than the whole story).  She also apologized for playing the new stuff first before going deeper into the catalog (“well, we hope to sell more music” is what I think she said).  The band played well, but they looked less than fresh.

And isn’t that what travel is?  The best of the best in travel writing, Paul Theroux, gives us long waits in third world government offices, battles with gout, and the bumps in a long bus ride to a desolate border crossing where he will wait some more.  All of it makes the sunrise over water or the honest conversation with a rickshaw driver more special for being real.  Travel is often nothing more than tedium interrupted by moments of illumination.  I love the Cowboy Junkies (and like their music) because they are honest travelers not above a complaint or two.  Driving across a foreign country (even one as lovely as ours) is tiring.  At the end of a long tour it would suck to do back to back concerts (they played last night, by the way, for almost 2 hours without break leaving them just an hour before the next concert).  I feel the miles on our trips and we do it for fun; them they do it for….   I don’t know.  But they did it (and did it well).  God bless the Cowboy Junkies.

If you want to check out the related article click here:  http://www.chicago-splash.com/publish/Entertainment/cat_index_chicago_entertainment/the-cowboy-junkies.php  Here also is their website complete with Tour Diary:  http://latentrecordings.com/cowboyjunkies/

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