Urban Cowboy is a great film, but its soundtrack deserves every bit as much attention. Stuffed with songs by the likes of Kenny Rogers, Mickey Gilley, the Eagles, Johnny Lee, Bonnie Raitt, and more besides, it’s been credited with pioneering the soft-core, mellow country sounds that came to dominate country music in the ’80s. If you’re ready to introduce some new classics to your playlist, listen up as we rank all 18 tracks from the Urban Cowboy soundtrack in order of greatness.
18. Lookin’ for Love – Johnny Lee
Johnny Lee was in hot demand for the Urban Cowboy soundtrack, contributing both Cherokee Fiddle and this classic country confection from his 1980 album of the same name. It wasn’t a hit with the critics (in his book Country Music: The Rough Guide, Kurt Wolff described it as “watered-down cowboy music”) but listeners loved it, taking it to number 1 on the country charts and number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100.
17. Falling in Love for the Night – Charlie Daniels Band
The Charlie Daniels Band contributed two songs to the Urban Cowboy soundtrack, one of which is the jaunty country foot-stomper, Falling in Love for the Night.
16. Love the World Away – Kenny Rogers
What’s a country-themed soundtrack without at least one contribution from the legendary Kenny Rogers? Released as a single from the soundtrack in June 1980, Love the World Away took Rogers to number 4 on the country charts and number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100.
15. Orange Blossom Special – Gilley’s Urban Cowboy Band
Orange Blossom Special was written and first recorded by Ervin T. Rouse in the late 1930s. By the 1950s, it had become a major favorite at bluegrass festivals, and by the late ’70s, it had worked its way into the catalogs of the likes of Johnny Cash, The Moody Blues, Electric Light Orchestra, and James Last. The version included on the Urban Cowboy soundtrack is performed by Mickey Gilley’s Urban Cowboy Band.
14. Cherokee Fiddle – Johnny Lee
Michael Martin Murphey wrote and released Cherokee Fiddle in 1977. Three years later, country artist Johnny Lee revisited it for the Urban Cowboy soundtrack and was rewarded with a top ten hit on the country charts for his efforts.
13. Stand by Me – Mickey Gilley
Let’s be honest, no one’s ever going to beat Ben E. King’s version of Stand By Me, but Mickey Gilley gave it a good try, earning himself a top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 in the process.
12. Nine Tonight – Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band
If you like your classic rock served with a potent punch, get this classic piece of heartland soul from Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band on your playlist now.
11. Could I Have This Dance – Anne Murray
Anne Murray earned her fifth country number one and tenth top 40 pop hit with this hit from 1980. Over 40 years after featuring on the Urban Cowboy soundtrack, it showed up again on the 2021 slasher movie, Halloween Kills.
10. Here Comes the Hurt Again – Mickey Gilley
Written by Jerry Foster and Bill Rice and first recorded by Mickey Gilley for his 1978 album Flyin’ High, Here Comes the Hurt Again hit number 9 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles chart and number 43 on the Canadian RPM Country Tracks chart on its release as a single. Two years later, Gilley contributed a slightly amended version for the Urban Cowboy soundtrack.
9. Times Like These – Dan Fogelberg
Dan Fogelberg is best known for his ’80s hits Longer, Same Old Lang Syne, and Leader of the Band, but he also penned this lovely forgotten treasure for the Urban Cowboy soundtrack.
8. Don’t It Make Ya Wanna Dance – Bonnie Raitt
Bonnie Raitt is nothing if not reliable, and on Don’t It Make Ya Wanna Dance, her nuanced delivery and smokey, whisky-soaked vocals are as wonderfully classy as ever.
7. Hello Texas – Jimmy Buffett
Jimmy Buffett wrote Hello Texas specifically for Urban Cowboy, bringing a generous portion of island escapism to the soundtrack.
6. Hearts Against the Wind – Linda Ronstadt and J. D. Souther
What do you get when you partner one of the best singers in country-rock history with one of the genre’s best songwriters? A stone-cold classic, as evidenced by this wonderful closing gem from the Urban Cowboy soundtrack.
5. Look What You’ve Done to Me – Boz Scaggs
According to Boz Scaggs and his co-writer David Foster, Look What You’ve Done to Me was written and recorded in just one night after they received a call from the producers of Urban Cowboy telling them that the scene the song was due to accompany was being filmed the next day and the track needed to be sent by courier plane that morning. Rushed or not, it’s a cracking song, with some very fine accompaniment from the Eagles on background vocals and several members of Toto on instrumentation.
4. All Night Long – Joe Walsh
Unlike most of the songs on the Urban Cowboy soundtrack, All Night Long has almost nothing to do with country music. It’s still an awesome tune though, with what Cash Box describes as having “plenty of power packed into the gut-grabbing chording.”
3. Darlin’ – Bonnie Raitt
Darlin’ was written by Oscar Stewart Blandamer in 1970. It’s been covered by a huge number of artists over the years, including Frankie Miller, David Rogers, Tom Jones, Smokie, Johnny Reid, and Barbara Mandrell. Bonnie Raitt’s version, which was recorded specifically for the Urban Cowboy soundtrack, is particularly delightful, with her smoky vocals milking every last drop of emotion from the lyrics.
2. The Devil Went Down to Georgia – Charlie Daniels Band
In The Devil Went Down to Georgia, the devil tries and fails to win the soul of a young man named Johnny through a fiddle-playing competition. With its compelling narrative, screeching fiddles, and thunderous organ, it ranks as one of the Charlie Daniels Band’s best-loved and best-known performances. Released as a single from their 1979 album Million Mile Reflections, it reached number three on the Billboard Hot 100.
1. Lyin’ Eyes – The Eagles
Described by Cash Box as representative of “the Eagles’ uncanny talent for fitting hit-making riffs together,” this classic rock track from Don Henley and Glenn Frey took the band to number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and number 8 on the Billboard Country chart in 1975, becoming their highest charting country hit until 2007’s How Long. It also managed to snap up the Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group or Chorus and earn a nomination for Record of the Year.