Chris LeDoux was born in Biloxi, Mississippi, on October 2, 1948. Since his father was in the airforce, LeDoux moved around a lot. While many country singers write songs about being a cowboy, LeDoux was a championship bareback ride. He competed in his first rodeo when he was 13, winning ht junior championships in Denison, TX at 13. His family moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming, and attended high school while continuing competing. He won the Wyoming State Rodeo Championship and was awarded a scholarship to Caspar College. Even though he went pro in 1970, he was barely able to make a living. During this time, he wrote songs about cowboys and rodeos, subjects not often explored. He wrote Bareback Jack and, shortly after that, recorded an album. Ledoux began selling his tape American Cowboy songs out of his truck after events. Since he enjoyed success with his music career, he started doing short recording sessions in Nashville. In 1976, he won the world bareback championship National Rodeo finals in Oklahoma City. After four more years, his injuries were too much for him to continue competing. Additionally, he wanted to get off the road and spend more time with his family. He moved to Kaycee, Wyoming, and continued writing songs.
LeDoux didn’t want to be tied down to a contract, so every album he recorded was self-released. In 10 years, he sold 250000 albums and started to gain a following. However, in 1989, Garth Brooks’ song Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old) became a chart-topper. One of the lyrics was “a worn-out tape of Chris LeDoux, lonely woman and bad booze, seem to be the only friends I’ve left at all.” Suddenly, LeDoux was in the mainstream spotlight; he signed with Liberty/Capitol and released Western Underground in 1991. His second album, Watcha Gonna Do With A Cowboy, followed in 1992, featuring a duet with Brooks. This song was LeDoux’s only top 10 hit and the only album that went gold. Even though he never reached that success again, he continued to record throughout the 90s; all of his albums reached the country music top 40. In 2000, he released the album Cowboy, a collection of early recordings. According to CMT, the same year, he was diagnosed with rare liver disease, primary sclerosing cholangitis. After a year of recovery, he returned to music and recorded two more albums. Horsepower was released in 2004, his last album. He died on March 9, 2005. Capitol Records president Mike Dugan said, “In a world of egos and soundalikes, he was a unique artist and a wonderful man.” These are the 10 best Chris Ledoux songs of all time.
10. Cowcamp Blues
When you listen to the instrumentation on this song, you feel like LeDoux is channeling Gene Autrey. Cowboys being on the road and leading simple lives is a staple of his music. Even though the song is a part of the traditional country music genre, you hear elements of rock and roll guitars in the background. The song’s lyrics are about a cowboy leading his vagabond life while his girl is back home and wanting to be curled up with her.
Ledoux’s home state of Wyoming and how he grew up is the topic of this song. His voice is toned down from some of his more uptempo feel. Additionally, the guitar’s riffs and drum licks sound more sweeping. The lyrics and overall vibe of the song are about the harsh life a cowboy leads.
8. Western Skies
This song is about coming home and staying true to who you are. LeDoux spent his career staying true to his music and experience, bringing them to hit song after hit songs. Western Skies is a tribute to the inspiration LeDoux drew from all of his other stars. It’s also a song that many singers but can’t find such a pure authenticity.
7. Country Fair
This song is about the fun of a Friday night in a small town after a long day of work. The uptempo song illuminates how small-town America is excited by special events that capture a different feeling from their day-to-day. Moreover, this song is about young love and the awkwardness of telling someone you like them. LeDoux captures all of these emotions pitch perfectly.
6. Look At You Girl
LeDoux typically writes songs about cowboys, rodeos, and the lifestyle these people typify. However, he executed this ballad with candor and truth. Throughout the song, you hear piano chords which add to the romance. His genuineness is on full display, and a listener begins to see another side of a cowboy, understanding they’re hard-working and fall completely in love because women who deal with this type of lifestyle are rare.
5. Hooked On An 8 Second Ride
Rodeos are an adrenaline rush for the spectators, but only because you can feel the determination as to the cowboy’s chase the dreams of being crowned champion. This song’s driving guitar and drums lend energy to the song’s lyrics, about those who stay on the circuit even if they are barely making a living because they love the lifestyle and the challenge of staying on a bull for 8 seconds.
Let’s face it, the stereotype of chewing tobacco is often true about cowboys. This song is LeDoux’s tongue-in-cheek tribute to the bad habit. The lyrics are also about the trouble you can get into with this habit. He also briefly mentions how it puts a kink in his love life.
3. This Cowboy Hat
The lyrics in this song deliver a poignant message; even if we’re different, everyone can find common ground if they try. Much of this song is stripped down, with LeDoux speaking over a light guitar, easily conveying the importance of this song. However, there are moments of heavy drums to punctuate the seriousness of the subject.
2. Cadillac Ranch
Although it’s sad, many farms die because there is a lot of issues in the industry. Cadillac Ranch is a fun spin on a growing problem. The song’s beat and subject create a tune with lots of energy. Surprisingly, Nashville never tried this concept. Nonetheless, it’s one of LeDoux’s best songs because it has catchy energy and compulsively singable lyrics.
1. Whatcha Gonna Do With A Cowboy (Duet Garth Brooks)
It only fits that LeDoux would do a duet with Brooks since the former is one of the main reasons he was thrust into the spotlight. It’s a fun song, especially since the listener can assume that many of the shenanigans in this song are things LeDoux did during his cowboy days. Another fun part of the lyrics is that he slips in a “you’d be better off to try and rope the wind,” a nod to Brooks’ first album that featured the song Much Too Young To Feel This Damn Old.