"Cowboys" as written by and Geoff Barrow Beth Gibbons....
Did you sweep us far from your feet
Reset in stone this stark belief
Salted eyes and a sordid dye
Too many years
But don't despair this day, will be their damnedest day
Ooh, if you take these things from me
Did you feed us tales of deceit
Conceal the tongues who need to speak
Subtle lies and a soiled coin
The truth is sold, the deal is done
But don't despair this day, will be their damnedest day
Ooh, if you take these things from me

Undefined, no signs of regret
Your swollen pride assumes respect
Talons fly as a last disguise
But no return, the time has come
So don't despair this day, will be their damnedest day
Ooh, if you take these things from me
Ooh, if you take these things from me

Lyrics submitted by Ice

"Cowboys" as written by Geoffrey Barrow Beth Gibbons

Lyrics © BMG Rights Management

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Cowboys song meanings
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  • +2
    General CommentI believe that "these things" are guns.
    I think this is a more figurative dialogue between the (silent, reluctant) cowboy/gunfighter and one of the townspeople soliciting his help.
    dharbigton January 23, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI'm taking a History class right now titled "History of the American West," and I do think it's a political song. Cowboys are part of the myth of the West as a place to be conquered--its indigenous peoples, its arid geography (deserts, great plains), its animals even (buffalo and the now-extinct passenger pigeon). Cowboys are the conquerors in this myth, and represent stoic, strong masculinity. (Women in the myth of the west have predominantly played the role of damsel in distress, with Calamity Jane and Annie Oakley being notable exceptions.) America, while supposedly founded on the ideals of democracy and freedom, has historically been exploitative and oppressive towards minorities: women, Blacks, Indians, Chinese, Japanese, and Mexicans. I won't give you a full history lesson here, but you can google these minorities along with something like "history of oppression in America," and you will find overwhelming evidence.

    Back to the song, it's hard to tell who the speaker is. Could be an oppressed minority speaking to the conquerors, the "cowboys," i.e. the American government.
    nanobodyon August 19, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentWho do people call "cowboys" globally? What do cowboys symbolize? Yeah, I think this song is kinda anti-American too.
    myzteronson February 27, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI honestly think she's pissed off with a shoddy workman.
    hugostigon August 26, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti love this song is all
    Niamon June 26, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentpropaganda of polititions roman empire such and such
    Niamon June 26, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI'm with you Niam.. I love this song, too!
    China_Moonon February 16, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentObviously quite a bitter song, and one of the best on the second album. Political? I'm not quite sure - the "Talons fly as a last resort" is hardly something a Politician does. I think it's aimed on a personal level at someone who's lied continually about who they are and made sure the truth never comes out by shouting their detractors down.
    The song has an overall air of defiance about it tho, which is great.
    xdvron May 16, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentRe: xdvr's post: I think this song is definitely political. Part of the greatness of phead is that the song is certainly not _just_ political, but the political allusions to me are pretty clear: "soiled coin" can be related to the the "sordid" money that fuels much of the political arena, from lobbying to campaign contribution. Also, being a U.S. citizen, the "talons" remind me of the popular American icon of the bald eagle. Compare Toby Keith's lines of a song that alludes to George "coWboy" Bush and the U.S. response to 9/11:

    Hey Uncle Sam put your name at the top of his list
    And the Statue of Liberty
    Started shakin’ her fist
    And the eagle will fly
    Man, it’s gonna be hell
    When you hear Mother Freedom
    Start ringin’ her bell
    And it feels like the whole wide world is raining down on you
    Brought to you Courtesy of the Red White and Blue

    ... to say nothing of the song's grim prescience regarding the current situation in Iraq in the line "Did you feed us tales of deceit"...
    zossimaon February 18, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentwell it can't be about 9/11 because this album came out in 1997.

    But it's definitely about politics. "Did you feed us tales of deceit?" "Conceal the tounges who need to speak." "Your swollen pride assumes respect."

    Sounds like a politician to me.
    lovelyritalucyon July 25, 2007   Link

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