Hello cowgirl in the sand
Is this place
at your command
Can I stay here
for a while
Can I see your
sweet sweet smile
Old enough now
to change your name
When so many love you
is it the same?
It's the woman in you
that makes you want
to play this game.

Hello ruby in the dust
Has your band
begun to rust
After all
the sin we've had
I was hopin' that
we'd turn bad
Old enough now
to change your name
When so many love you
is it the same
It's the woman in you
that makes you want
to play this game.

Hello woman of my dreams
This is not
the way it seems
Purple words
on a grey background
To be a woman
and to be turned down
Old enough now
to change your name
When so many love you
is it the same
It's the woman in you
that makes you want
to play this game.


Lyrics submitted by H-bomb, edited by Lookout4MyLove

Cowgirl In The Sand song meanings
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56 Comments

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  • +4
    My InterpretationI believe this song to be about a prostitute, On a recording of live at Massy Hall neil says that the song is about the beaches of spain
    Multiple beaches in spain in that time period contained many prostitutes

    Is this place
    at your command
    May Refer to the domain in which a hooker would claim to be her area.

    Can I stay here
    for a while
    Can I see your
    sweet sweet smile
    This phrase would be the man asking to be the next customer, possibly not the first time

    Old enough now
    to change your name
    Would mean that she is old enough to change her name, as in a stripper name, or become married and change her last name

    When so many love you
    is it the same?
    Could state that after selling her self to many men, is making love still the same and as special as it is intended to be

    It's the woman in you
    that makes you want
    to play this game.
    Referring to sexual hormones or urges on the shallow side, however more deeply that she may have been struggling for money and her womany urge to be independent and find away to survive on her own forced her into the "game"

    Hello ruby in the dust
    Has your band
    begun to rust
    I feel this refers to her beauty and person deserves better than to be in the dust of her profession, and that her gig has began to fall apart because shes getting older and may not be as wanted as the younger competition

    After all
    the sin we've had
    I was hopin' that
    we'd turn back
    Maybe the man has started to fall for her and he wants to settle down and provide for her, but the woman in her wont let her so she refuses

    Hello woman of my dreams
    This is not
    the way it seems
    Purple words
    on a grey background
    To be a woman
    and to be turned down

    finally she has reached an age where she is no longer at interest anymore, unwanted. everything looks fine on the surface but she now suffers more than ever. purple words get lost in the echo of the ordinary and boring grey background and she was special, but now she is turned down, the worst of all
    hix2872on August 29, 2011   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI have a live recording of a concert neil did in 72 in London. Before this song he says, "this is a song I wrote about the beaches in spain. I've never been to the beaches in spain, its just sort my own idea of what its like over there."

    also I have a question:

    what does purple words on a gray background refer to?
    hillarypon November 09, 2004   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI think he's talking about a girl who plays with men but won't settle down. I think "old enough to change your name" means she's old enough to settle down & get married. I've always felt that the woman in this song was just strong willed and wanted to be free, not that she meant to be a tramp, the feeling of the song is too gentle for the speaker to be angry at her.
    CeeJaion May 04, 2003   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI don't think the girl is in a marriage. He suggests that she has not yet changed her name. I think this is about the inconstancies of women, as mentioned by Giordano. But I think it's more than that. I think it's detailing a woman for which he had harboured deep affections and then noticed her flirtatious and "game"like behavior. It seems to me that this turned him away (When so many love you, is it the same), and then suddenly she turned her affections back to him. It's the "Hello woman of my dreams; This is not the way it seems; Purple words..." that leads me to this conclusion. It seems that he's caught wind of the fact that she's interested in him because he quit his interest in her, and he's trying to explain to her that his love is real but hers is not and he's turning her down for that reason (What a horridly constructed sentence!) Maybe that's too complicated...but it happens a lot. I know: I'm a woman old enough now to change her name. :)
    onelokikittyon January 04, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General Comment"Old enough now
    to change your name"
    Maybe Neil was singing about his surname?;)
    sliceeron January 22, 2008   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationFor me, the cowgirl is another musician. I think the word "band" had the double meaning of wedding band and the actual band that she plays with. This is supported by the rest of the line "begins to rust." Neil has used the the word "rust" to reply to the singer Johnny Rotten who was quoted as saying that Neil was a "burnout." Neil replied that it is "better to burnout than it is to rust," and also said, "his rust never sleeps." and Neil seemed to make a prediction that Rotten's fame would be short lived.

    This was born out by time, as Neil is still very much in people's minds while the Sex Pistols are hardly the most important punk band, which they seemed to be in 1976, just one of a group of bands who were involved in punk, and some people even regard them as posers who were just jumping into a scene. Neil creates his own scene. He takes a novel perspective and creative vision with every project and he is often imitated. Rust is such an important word to Neil that he used it in the title of two albums and a film.

    "When so many love you" could refer to a new found success. Perhaps the cowgirl is a singer who has just emerged from obscurity like Rotten did, and maybe Neil knew her when she was just starting out. He could be replying to something she wrote about him in one of her songs. Singer/songwriters sometimes do that, communicate with each other via their songs. It is difficult to know. It seems like a very personal song, and maybe it is not appropriate to delve into these matters.

    Your own subjective interpretation is the most important meaning of the song. Who does it make you think about? Someone in your life? Someone with whom you have unfinished business or unsettled feelings? The song can serve as a map to your own heart and soul.
    bumdharmaon July 26, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General CommentSome people seem to be interpreting the line "Has your band begun to rust?" as a reference to a musical band. I think it's probably a sly tip towards the woman's failing marriage as her wedding ring loses its value. This would be supported by other references to sexual promiscuity such as "When so many love you
    is it the same?"
    9DennyJon May 21, 2016   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThis is about a woman that he has known from his youth, perhaps his first love, and their long and rocky mostly one sided relationship that he has had with her. There are three stanzas and the long guitar solo in between them feels like time elapses between the stages of their relationship. In the first stanza they’re young and the relationship is just begun. He’s obviously smitten and in love with her but she is beautiful and popular and doesn’t want to commit even though she’s old enough to. She wants to play the field and the field is at her command. He wants her to love him the same way that he loves her but there are so many others that vie for her affection.

    In the second stanza time has elapsed. They’ve been broken up and there’s been a lot of sin and hurt in their relationship. Now their back together but it’s really more of the same. She’s still beautiful like a ruby but she has a lot of baggage now. There’s been a lot of pain in this relationship but he still wants to forgive her because his feelings for her are still the same. He believes that she will only bring pain but he would still settle with her if only she would stop playing this game.

    In the third stanza more time has elapsed. They’re back together after yet another of their many breakups and failures. She’s not quite the same as the woman of her youth. She’s the one woman that he fell for the most (woman of his dreams) but too much pain and distrust have brought him to the conclusion that he has no future with her. It’s ironic because she was always the one that turned his love down but now he’s turning her down which to her are as indiscernible as purple words on a grey background.
    JamesPon July 13, 2016   Link
  • +1
    General Commentholy lord, this song is amazing.... the beginning section owns me. And then the lyrics..... oh man...its just epic and amazing and...
    damn it neil young is so awesome
    ieatseedson December 13, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI always took this song as the singer being in love with a married woman that is unhappy in her marriage.

    Several points:
    "Hello Cowgirl in the Sand", the woman (cowgirl) is completely out of place in her marriage ... like a cowgirl would be standing on a sandy beach. Beaches are known for women in cowgirl outfits. She's not happy in her marriage (is this place at your command). It's the person inside her that makes the singer feel an inability to stay away from someone he has no right to be with (it's the woman in you that makes me want to play this game) of unrequited love.

    Has your (wedding) band begun to rust? Is her marriage no longer of any real use to her. After all the sin (Adultry) we had.

    Not really sure on the "Purple words on a grey background" probably a reference to his words of love not really having any impact because after all Purple words would not really show up on grey paper, being difficult to see since the colors are somewhat close in the spectrum.

    This is how i always interpretted this song.
    Hedgeson February 16, 2005   Link

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