According to the Chinese zodiac – something we celebrate here in Japan – 2021 is the year of the Ox. I don’t seem to have any songs with “Ox” in the title – I’m hoping that “Cow” and “Bull” will do in a push….and even then I’m gonna have to stretch to cowboys and girls…but here are ten songs selected to kick start and wish you luck over the next 12 months….
Opening festivities is John Barry`s score to John Schlesinger`s Midnight Cowboy – haunting harmonica hook and all.
Schlesinger`s movie made allusions to Andy Warhol`s silver-foil covered factory – acolytes of which of course included The Velvet Underground – whose Sweet Jane the Cowboy Junkies sublimely covered.
David Crosby is for sure one cowboy who did his time with a needle and certainly a coke spoon – hitting a devastating spiral sparked by the death of this girlfriend Christine Hinton, and marked by the singular genius of his LP, If Only I Could Remember My Name – which features the sprawling blues of Cowboy Movie – a thinly veiled allegory for the break-up of the band – Crosby, Nash, Stills & Young – as they fought for the favours of Rita Coolidge, the Raven of the song.
Anyone familiar with Andrew Weatherall`s Music’s Not For Everyone NTS radio shows should recognize Cowboys International’s – featuring The Clash`s ex-drummer, Terry Chimes – The “No” Tune – as it seemed to be an unofficial theme – frequently playing in the intro.
Andrew`s friend and sometime co-conspirator Richard Norris turns up tonking More Cowbell with his Time & Space Machine.
Fellow acid house veterans and Boys Own-ers, Underworld, give beat poetry and William Burroughs` cut-ups a good going over to the racing electronic prog rhythms of Cowgirl.
Steely Dan bring Black Cow – another tale of bitter heartbreak hidden in clever cryptic lyrics, set against and name checking a mythological 70s NYC backdrop – stopping for cocktails at Hells Kitchen`s Rudy’s.
Tubby`s Hi-Fi DJ I Roy takes us for a Cow Town Skank. The late great gorgon Bunny Striker Lee can be heard setting the scene at the track`s start – which features the legendary line “the king of sound and blues”.
Sticking with the reggae, and with King Tubby`s, but shifting to the “dub organiser`s” later, 80s, digital gear, Red Rose & King Kong bounce around like Two Big Bull Inna One Pen.
To close, as relevant now as it was when it was recorded in 1982, Washington funk family Osiris deliver the righteous mothership go-go of War On The Bullshit.
Into 2021, stronger together, we go…..