The real people went away
But I'll find a better way, someday
Leaving only me and my dreams
My cattle and a resonator

I drove all the beast down right under your nose
The lumbering footloose power, the bull and the rose
Don't touch them, don't try to hurt them
My cattle *tss* *tss*

I drove them by the crops and thought the crops were lost
I consoled myself with rudimentary thoughts
And I set my watch against the city clock
It was way off

One thing about this wild, wild country
It takes a strong, strong.. it breaks a strong, strong mind
Yea, one thing about this wild, wild country
It takes a strong, strong.. it breaks a strong, strong mind

And anything less, anything less
Makes me feel like I'm wasting my time
But the pain and frustration is not mine
It belongs to the cattle through the valley

And when my cattle turns on me, I was knocked back flat
I was knocked out cold for one clack of the train track
Then out rose a colossal hand buried, buried in sand
I rose like a drover, for I am in the end, a drover, a drover by trade
When my cattle turns on me, I am a drover, double fold
My cattle bears it all the way for me and everyone...

One thing about this wild, wild country
It takes a strong, strong... it breaks a strong, strong mind
And anything less, anything less
Makes me feel like I'm wasting my time

Lyrics submitted by Eglk, edited by johnsstar, smallwonderrobot

Drover song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentI'd be more inclined to give this less of a symbolic reading. Sure, there is plenty of symbolism in there in small flashes, but the overall tone of the lyrics seem to be direct enough in my eyes. Maybe I'm being too cursory; I'll let you decide. I agree with 'kevingarywilkes' about the introversion apparent in the text.

    The song could have been placed back-to-back with 'America' on the album as folk songs (in the true meaning of the words) the dream of America and the reality; 'Drover' being the former and 'America' being the latter - the time of the cowboys to the time of international conflict as a result of oil and ideologies.

    I think of the song as an exaltation of the humble farmers, ranchers and cowboys (and, I suppose, any hard-laborer) that built the US. It's also steeped in the imagery of classic westerns and their stoic heroes such as Gary Cooper in 'High Noon' and Montgomery Clift in 'Red River'. In particular, Montgomery Clift in 'Red River' battles against the land in a monumental herding of cattle that takes place within the film; John Wayne's anti-heroic character rounds up a posse of cowboys at the start of a film with the intention of herding hundreds of cattle across either hundreds or thousands of miles to sell them. Clift's character is the most stoic, committed and respectful of the animals, as is the narrator in Callahan's 'Drover' - he realises that it is the cattle that bear the most strain, and to treat these animals that sustain us with their milk and flesh as anything less than noble is to commit a cardinal sin.

    I love the line "And anything less, anything less Makes me feel like I'm wasting my time". Maybe it's the Calvinistic work ethic of the America (I say this as a lapsed-Catholic Irishman) this song represents that pushes men to prevail under such extremes and chastise themselves for having down-time or not working enough, I don't know. In a more trivial sense, I feel like this after reading Shakespeare or Yeats - anything less seems insubstantial, and even though there is plenty that rival them, I just don't get the same feeling from it. Maybe that glides into what the Callahan song 'Riding for the Feeling' is about.

    Like Paul Thomas Anderson's 'The Will Be Blood', this could (at a stretch) be compared to the Afghanistan/Iraq wars (a subject Callahan touches on in 'America'). The cattle, with the highest respect, represent the troops; they, uncomplaining and unselfishly cross the terrain to provide the public with a liquid of life - milk. Oil is the milk of the desert. "My cattle bears it all away for me and everyone". But this is merely an observation made for the pure fun of dissecting texts.
    RipItDownon August 11, 2011   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationIt's a universal, yet introverted song. A song about the conscious attempt to chase away negative thoughts. The nature of the thoughts, "But the pain and frustration, is not mine, It belongs to the cattle, through the valley." As if peace resides in us, and it is the thoughts themselves that attempt to drag us down - the thoughts our not ours. At least, this is how I read this song. Musically, this is one of Callahan's most beautiful. It captures the themes of the song without paying too much homage to itself.
    kevingarywilkeson April 14, 2011   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningI just get this feeling that this song is kind of a grudging acknowledgement of the band manager's role, or Callhan's own experience in sheparding his show around. It's one of those songs that will have a different meaning for everyone, but all are equally noble.
    ginintonicon August 16, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentCallahan is a loner, a drifter, a cowboy, a drover, one who works cattle, never stays in one place for long. At its simplest, a song about loneliness and desperation. "People" don"t understand him. It is the way of the drover and the way drovering will always be, as much as one wants to quit and be loved
    BenHon October 02, 2012   Link

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