Tag Archives: Memphis Commercial Appeal

Cowboy Emo

Turning towards a Perfect Lines perennial favorite – Lucero – we have what’s been dubbed “Cowboy emo.”

I stumbled upon this from a post on Tampa’s Creative Loafing about the band. The piece was more sizing up/summarizing a “Lucero for begginers” mix by Romeo Sid Vicious, who chose to name his online mix “Cowboy emo.” Romeo explains further:

I chose “Cowboy Emo” as the name of this compilation due to a rumor of the conversation between Ben and Brian that laid the groundwork for Lucero. I won’t bore you with the whole story but rumor has it that Brian described the music he wanted to play as “Cowboy Emo” during that conversation. I don’t think there’s much emo and not much cowboy in the music but it’s a fitting title nonetheless.

I have to disagree with Romeo on that last point, as Lucero’s sound is heavily indebted to the southern rock/country stylings as it is the post-hardcore ravings that sprung from DC and went onwards. A key piece of evidence is Jawbreaker’s “Kiss The Bottle,” a perennial favorite cover that finds its way into many a Lucero live set and sees the band stay true to the emocore roots of the song while drawing out some countryish twang as well.

Still, I’m not at all bored with the idea behind “cowboy emo” as I am fascinated by it. I tried scouring the net for an answer, and the best I could find was in an enotes entry on the band:

The group’s early work featured slow love songs [Brian] Venable termed “cowboy emo” to Michael Donahue in the Memphis newspaper Commercial Appeal. That’s “cowboyish, sappy love songs,” Venable told Donahue. “Emo being short for emotions.”

Not entirely helpful, but a quick scan of the Commercial Appeal archives shows an article from December 18th, 1998 entitled “Lucero Sings Blues For Bereft Cowboys” that is, most likely, the article in question. Unfortunately, you have to pay to read the article, and I think I’d rather track down a physical microfilm or scan of the paper than pay $3 for 500 words of text.

So, perhaps, in the future, I shall have scanned the piece with my own eyes and gotten to the bottom of “cowboy emo!”

Lucero – “Kiss The Bottle” (live acoustic):