"Rhinestone Cowboy" as written by and Larry Weiss....
I've been walkin' these streets so long
Singin' the same old song
I know every crack in these dirty sidewalks of Broadway
Where hustle's the name of the game
And nice guys get washed away like the snow and the rain
There's been a load of compromisin'
On the road to my horizon
But I'm gonna be where the lights are shinin' on me

Like a rhinestone cowboy
Riding out on a horse in a star-spangled rodeo
Like a rhinestone cowboy
Getting cards and letters from people I don't even know
And offers comin' over the phone

Well, I really don't mind the rain
And a smile can hide all the pain
But you're down when you're ridin' the train that's takin' the long way
And I dream of the things I'll do
With a subway token and a dollar tucked inside my shoe
There'll be a load of compromisin'
On the road to my horizon
But I'm gonna be where the lights are shinin' on me

Like a rhinestone cowboy
Riding out on a horse in a star-spangled rodeo
Rhinestone cowboy
Gettin' cards and letters from people I don't even know
And offers comin' over the phone

Like a rhinestone cowboy
Riding out on a horse in a star-spangled rodeo

Like a rhinestone cowboy
Gettin' card and letters from people I don't even know


Lyrics submitted by OpinionHead

"Rhinestone Cowboy" as written by Larry Weiss

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., EMI Music Publishing

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Rhinestone Cowboy song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentThis song takes me back to when I was all of seven years old. In the summer of 1975 I was gleefully on the road with my parents off to another horse show. This one happened to be in Minneapolis where my Grandma lived. Dad usually had the radio tuned to a country western station, which was OK, since back then there were actually some pretty good C/W tunes. Some of the ones that stick out in my memory are Roger Miller's King of the Road (covered admirably by Rufus Wainwright and Teddy Thompson on the Brokeback Mountain CD) and Tanya Tucker's Delta Dawn. But none captured my imagination quite like Glen Campbell's Rhinestone Cowboy.

    This tune was country glam, if there is such a thing--a bright and shiny ditty with all the bells and whistles, not to mention a string section. To my ears it had a BIG and monumental sound that was only bolstered by Campbell's emotive vocal stylings. At that age I really didn't pay very much attention to the lyrics or their meaning. All's I knew was that it was about some horse riding rodeo star who liked wearing rhinestone encrusted outfits. Only very recently did I come to realize what the song was really about. This probably explains why here on songmeanings.net there is only one short analysis of the song: "lol, what a gay song..." I nearly laughed out loud when I read it. But, it's kind of true. This also probably explains why when I did a Gooogle image search using the keywords "rhinestone" and "cowboy", I encountered a few pictures of Liberace in all his glittering glory.

    OK, here's my take on it: It's about this young stage actor who is relating how he wants to make it big on Broadway ("I know every crack in these dirty sidewalks of Broadway...But I'm gonna be where the lights are shinin' on me."). It seems that the rhinestone cowboy is actually a metaphor for his success, and it also alludes to him sticking it out until he gets what he wants. Oh well, that probably sounds a bit too deep, but considering the words it seems fairly believable.

    This song will always have a special place in my heart...sweet cherished memories of childhood. While Mom and Dad were at the horse show (it was a banner year for Dad and his stallion Auric) I stayed with Grandma. She would drag me from one second-hand store to the next, and later we'd head for the closest cafeteria for lunch. When we got back to her home after a long day of shopping she would put on some of her favorite records, which included Judy Garland and Frank Sinatra if I remember correctly. She'd always try and get me to dance with her, and usually I'd give in (though my hyper-active nature was trying on her at times).

    That summer Dad and Auric took home best in show Western Pleasure, I think it was. It was so obvious that Mom and Dad were having the time of their lives, relishing the success merited by all of their hard work. The trophy was the biggest one I had ever seen, with four large columns supporting a pedestal bearing a shiny metalic golden Arabian horse on top. On the way home when Rhinestone Cowboy played on the radio, it seemed to have acquired a new meaning. It's funny to think, years later, it has actually come to signify many things for me.
    celeryon September 13, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's clearly about Gay Cowboys.
    Luuuukeon May 16, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhat's GAY about this song....you two must really be gays...lol
    bear_hug20on September 09, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentbecause you can tell easily what being gay is, surely you are one of them...hahahaha
    bear_hug20on September 09, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti used to listen to this when i was seven too... except now i'm eighteen!! hahaha gotta love my parents. but i don't think of this as a gay song - yeah, there's the whole "rhinestone" and "cowboy" i guess but the meaning is pretty clearly not a part of that. i just always think of the "star-spangled rodeo" because those were the only lyrics i could really visualize back then. it was actually kind of pretty.
    cloudy eyeon January 11, 2010   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationI think the song is about shortcut to success,

    I've been walkin' these streets so long
    (He had lived long)

    Singin' the same old song
    (being idling and living a monotonous life)

    I know every crack in these dirty sidewalks of Broadway
    (crack=weakness, dirty=ruined/corrupted, Broadway=society)

    Where hustle's the name of the game
    (Speed is the key factor to success)

    And nice guys get washed away like the snow and the rain
    (Honest people are ignored)

    There's been a load of compromisin'
    On the road to my horizon
    But I'm gonna be where the lights are shinin' on me
    (I'm gonna get the fame by any means)

    Well, I really don't mind the rain
    And a smile can hide all the pain
    (Ignoring the cost of the fame, probably moral values, or family or friends, or the humiliation before success)

    But you're down when you're ridin' the train that's takin' the long way
    (even a train was considered too long, meant his yearn for quick success)

    And I dream of the things I'll do
    With a subway token and a dollar tucked inside my shoe
    (Finding means to take the shortcut to success)

    There'll be a load of compromisin'
    On the road to my horizon
    But I'm gonna be where the lights are shinin' on me
    (repeat)
    KayaOtahon January 09, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIn all of the history of the internet, 'LOL gay' as a stock response to almost everything has never been appropriate or funny. Like infinite monkeys and typewriters, it hits home. It's really gay, and it's about a cowboy.

    Then again it demonstrates (Camp)bell's great songwriting skills. What a hook. You dont' have to like Campbell, Elton John, ABBA and so many others to acknowledge that they understand how to construct intro, chorus, coda etc.

    It's not Britten, but it's excellent feelgood popcorn countrypop. If you can't enjoy this, you are dead inside. I'm glad that I stopped being an up-my-own-arse muso pseud - it just took me 50 years.
    cornwellon October 28, 2011   Link
  • -2
    General Commentlol, what a gay song...
    J0K3Ron July 31, 2006   Link

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