The Texas country crooner is releasing the live version of his cowboy ode to radio stations just in time for NFR’s arrival.
We chatted recently with Texas country traditionalist Josh Ward about the new live version of his song, “A Cowboy Can,” which he’ll be putting out later this week on Texas country radio, in the lead-up to Wrangler National Finals Rodeo’s arrival in North Texas from December 3-12. He was so kind as to give our readers the exclusive premiere of the new video, shot in Fort Worth while recording his Live At Billy Bob’s Texas album.
See the video below and read on for Ward’s thoughts about the song and NFR.
Cowboys & Indians: We’ve known since C&I originally premiered the studio recording of “A Cowboy Can” that it’s a special song with lyrics that mean a great deal to you. The sentiment behind it also speaks to the Western lifestyle lived by many of the folks who will be at NFR in Texas this year. How did the song originate for you?
Josh Ward: Me and my good friend Wyatt McCubbin wrote the song. Wyatt had a lot to do with the last record. He said, "Hey, let's write a song that says something about you." I've never written a song that talked about me, what kind of guy I was. That'd normally be pretty short and sweet, right?
C&I: Well, yeah, cowboys aren’t always into talking about themselves a lot. So it goes against the grain ... if you're not a songwriter.
Ward: That's kind of where I was with it. I don't say much about myself. I'm pretty humble. But he said, “Hey, just sit down here and start talking to me. I don't know what it's like to be a cowboy.” … I always worked with horses, we messed with cows, and all that. I rodeo-ed back in the day. … I try to live that lifestyle and support that heritage. But when we wrote this song, it was like, Hey, doesn't matter if you wear a hard hat for a living, if you wear a three-piece suit, or you slap a saddle over a horse's back every day. The cowboy part of it is just getting up and being that person — getting up and living that gritty lifestyle. There's no backup. There's just go.
C&I: Rolling with it ...
Ward: Yeah. I just started naming off everything that eventually ended up in the lyrics. He was like, "Dang, here's the song." It wrote itself, if you will. But yeah, we wanted to have something on the radio during NFR, and we had never taken a chance on any live recordings. And the Live at Billy Bob’s Texas version was like capturing lightning in a bottle. … I looked at what all's been going on in the world. People are having tough times. This is one of those songs that just says, "Hey, pull it up by your bootstraps and go on with it."
C&I: It’s relevant, too, for NFR, which is soldiering on in its own way. It can be a soundtrack for the competitors and the organizers and attendees as well.
Ward: I was wanting to release it for NFR whether it was in Vegas or here. I figured [radio] was the simplest and fastest way to get music back out to the fans. So, why not? Let's gamble on it. Rodeo's always been a gamble. You got to be good at it and you've got to be tough.
C&I: For people coming into town in December and tuning their radio dials, what station around here do you recommend where they might hear this song and other true Texas country music?
Ward: Well, I mean, obviously whenever you roll into Fort worth, my buddy Justin Frazell is going to be playing it on the Ranch (95.9 FM). All the folks up there, they've been so kind to me in giving me a home in Fort Worth for my music. I can honestly say that all of our radio stations all over Texas have been supporting my brand of country music. But yeah, I know Justin will give me a plug every once in a while.
C&I: And we assume you’ll be on the scene at NFR?
Ward: I've got to be there for appearances and all that with Rock & Roll Denim and Fenoglio Boot Co. and others. I gotta go in there and show my ugly old mug around town. Get in where you fit in.
Find out more about Josh Ward and keep tabs on his appearance schedule at joshwardmusic.com.
(Photography: Heather Ward)