Me and my good partners we were riding back to our camp
We were feeling very fine air was clear and slightly damp
We were riding back to have ourselves a party
To celebrate the robbing of the train

We were talking kind of low and lazy
About not having to go out soon again, oh yeah
You know we hadn't been back home two hours
We heard a hawk cry out in the night
And you know that's a signal from young Billy, who's our sentry

He's saying something here ain't exactly right, oh
So we quick grabbed some of our hardware
Stumbled out of our home
Two minutes flat we had found her an Indian girl all alone

And Eli said, "Let's take her back to the cabin"
I said, "You don't know she might be the law, yeah"
He said, smiling kind of nasty
"It ain't too damn likely she'll beat me to the draw", oh yeah

We were walking back through the darkness
I heard the Duke, he's our dynamiter, say
He said, "What's your name, sweet little Indian girl?"
She said, "Raven" and she looked away
Right then I didn't trust her, no and I said so, oh no

Now, Eli, he's our fastest gunner
He's kind of mean and young from the South
He said, "Fat Albert, you're getting kind of old and weird now"
You'd better get your twelve gauge shotgun mighty damned fast
And I did, you know I

Now Eli and the Duke they got down to it
They each wanted the Indian girl for their own
But when they finally got around to asking her
You know she said, ?She'd come to take young Billy home?
Eli said, ?He'd kill young Billy he'd kill the Duke
And probably me too, yeah?, the Indian girl said, "Go ahead now do it"
I said, "Stop it", and she bit my thumb nearly clean through

And when they finally started to break down the door
I smeared my face up with blood from my thumb, yeah
I laid down on the floor and played real good possum
You know I'm crazy but I ain't real dumb, oh no

Now I'm dying here in Albuquerque
I must be the sorriest sight you ever saw
You know the reason I'm the only man here to tell it
You know that Indian girl, she wasn't an Indian she was the law, oh

Lyrics submitted by hari66

"Cowboy Movie" as written by David Crosby

Lyrics © BMG Rights Management

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Cowboy Movie song meanings
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  • +5
    General CommentFrom allmusic:
    One of the most autobiographical songs to stem from the diaspora of CSN&Y, David Crosby's "Cowboy Movie" is the actual story of the (temporary) 1970 breakup of that very group. The individual members are all given aliases: Stephen Stills is Eli ("our fastest gunner/kinda mean & young, from the South"). Graham Nash is The Duke ("our dynamiter"), Neil Young is Young Billy, who has an almost psychic ability to predict trouble, and Crosby himself is Fat Albert, who becomes an interested and interesting bystander. The other main character is Raven, who represents Rita Coolidge, who in real life had affairs with Stills first, then Nash. This in itself caused the ill-feelings between Nash and Stills at the time, and caused the temporary fraction in the band. Raven is also referred to as "The Law" — but not in the legal sense, as Crosby explained in Dave Zimmer's Crosby, Stills & Nash, but the "law of averages of nature." All of this combines, as Zimmer relates, to create a "colorful look at human nature," and succeeds admirably.
    MANTon October 04, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis song destroys me every time i hear it, but in a totally awesome way.
    notthatguysomeoneelseon July 05, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentTo MANT: if you came up with this theory mostly on your own
    you are a certified genius - if you found the revelation from some
    other source and relayed it all here, you are quite admirable -
    this song is remarkable in many ways: it is like a play set up in
    a grade B Western film, done cheapie, and is quite enjoyable in
    the characterizations - with the connotations of the CSNY
    references, Crosby is dead on - it's kind of like a folktale
    rockboy52on January 12, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAlthough I am sure the reality is different, I am amazed at how unrehearsed this song feels. It's like being at a campfire and someone is telling a story, and in the flickering of flames you are transported to another world. Does he really die in Albuquerque (had to Google spelling, lol)? If this song really has the intentional characterizations of Stills, Nash and Young as noted above, it is beyond colossal in its brilliance.
    Dartmanon May 29, 2015   Link

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