Monday, 15 September 2014

My Top Ten Cow Songs

Last week, my dad sold his cows. Although being a farmer was never his main form of income (he was a joiner first, then a car auctioneer, then a joiner again), he'd kept cows as a sideline / hobby for over 60 years. But at 84, he's finally had to face up to the fact that he can't be out there chucking hay bales around or chasing the bloody things down the road when they break through the fence... so they've gone off to live out their days on another farm. There were only seven left at the end, but it was sad to see them go. I have to admit, I still choke up when I think about him calling them in for the last time. (He'd had those cows so long, they came when he called.)

Growing old really is rubbish, you just say goodbye to one thing after another.

10. Tanita Tikaram - Poor Cow

Tanita's lyrics always suggested interesting stories, but left the listener to fill in the gaps. This one has a dark sting in its tail though.

9. Sonic Youth - Bull In The Heather

Actually, this one is about a racehorse. But we'll ignore that because it's Kim Gordon and the video is... nice.

8. Hoyt Axton - Wild Bull Rider

As well as being a big-hearted country singer who always brings a smile to my face, Hoyt Axton was also the dad in Gremlins. What else do you want from him?

7. The Hold Steady - Cattle & The Creeping Things

Craig Finn is an excellent storyteller. This is like listening in on a bar room conversation... an interesting one.

She said I was seeing double for three straight days after I got born again
It felt strange but it was nice and peaceful
It really pleased me to be around so many people
Of course half of them visions
Half of them were friends from going through the program with me
Later on we did some sexy things
Took a couple photographs and carved them into wood reliefs
Hey, but that's enough about me
Tell me how you got down here into Ybor City
6. Steely Dan - Black Cow

It's a root beer float, apparently. Classic Dan, from Aja.

5. Morrissey - The Bullfighter Dies

The shortest song on the new Moz album will surprise no one with its exultation of "hooray hooray" as the bullfighter dies. With cheery mariachi horns and cheesy Spanish puns, it's a more enjoyable listen than Mozzer's more famous cow song, Meat Is Murder, which I always felt went a little too far (and way too long) with its hectoring soapboxing. (Sacrilege, I know.) Besides, the cows win in this one.

4. Aerosmith - Milk Cow Blues

Originally recorded by Sleepy John Estes in 1930, this has been covered by everyone from Robert Johnson to Elvis, Eddie Cochran to Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen. The Kinks adapted the song quite a bit and it's their version that Aerosmith pay homage to here.

Leave this song in Elvis Costello's fridge too long and this is what you get: Sour Milk Cow Blues.

3. Prefab Sprout - Golden Calf

Blissful romanticism, as always, from Mr. McAloon.

Once upon a time I stalked the
Streets on raining evenings when the
Distant sea blended with the sky
My mouth was full of cigarettes
My hair is full of long-term bets
But you would always make me see the day

2. The Go-Betweens - Cattle & Cane

My favourite Go-Betweens track. Great guitar work and very evocative lyrics.

1. The Wonder Stuff - The Size Of A Cow

I always thought Miles Hunt sang "I'm gonna halve my problems to the size of a cow"... and that this was a positive song. Turns out it's a much more depressing: "I'm building up my problems to the size of a cow". Damn, blast!

Those were my sacred cows... which one moooooves you?


  1. No music but I'm doffing my flat-cap in honour of your dad and his cows.

  2. Beyond Moo-ve Any Mountain by the Shamen and Moo-ving On Up by M-People, all I can offer is the Weddoes' cover of Cattle And Cane, which is also excellent.

    1. Indeed. I should have given that a mention.

  3. And there I was thinking I'd sneak in with buffalo gals...but I realise that won't get past the starting how about 4 non blondes with Old Mr Heffer?. No one likes a smart ass.

    1. The internet tells me that buffalo are as different from cows as lions are from tigers. Buffalo Girls is great though... I'm glad you didn't suggest Buffalo Stance.

      Over on fb, Sally suggested Heifer Fallen In Love...? by the Buzzcocks. That was treated with similar derision by the judges. (And the less said about 'I Herd It Through The Bovine', the better.)

      An ass is equine, surely? ;-)

  4. Oh that's a really sad post and I prepared my flippant response based on the title before reading the content. So please forgive me, but hey, I'm going to do it anyway :)

    Old Mrs Leary - uploaded especially for you -

    1. Well, I do appreciate you gathering that enormous guiding choir together in tribute to my dad's cows.


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