Should've Been a Cowboy

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"Should've Been a Cowboy"
Single by Toby Keith
from the album Toby Keith
B-side "Some Kinda Good Kinda Hold on Me"
Released February 8, 1993
Format CD single, cassingle, 7"
Recorded 1992
Genre Country
Length 3:30
Label Mercury 864990
Writer(s) Toby Keith
Producer(s) Nelson Larkin
Harold Shedd
Toby Keith singles chronology
"Should've Been a Cowboy"
"He Ain't Worth Missing"

"Should've Been a Cowboy" is a song written and recorded by American country music artist Toby Keith. It was released in February 1993 as the lead off single released from Keith's self-titled debut album Toby Keith. On June 5, 1993, it reached number 1 on the US Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart and the Canadian RPM Country Tracks. It also peaked at number 93 on the Billboard Hot 100, making it a minor crossover hit.

It has received more than 3 million spins on country radio, making it the most played country song of the 1990s.[1]

The song was formerly a staple following sporting events at Oklahoma State University (home of the Cowboys), often played over the venue's PA system several times in succession as fans emptied the stadium or arena.[2]


The lyrics romanticize the cowboy lifestyle through references to old Westerns. The first verse references Gunsmoke, in which cowboy hero Marshall Dillon never settled down with love interest Miss Kitty. The second verse tells of his own adventures if the narrator were a cowboy: having "a sidekick with a funny name" (possibly a reference to sidekicks like Tonto or Festus or Gordito), travelling west to California (including the historical quote "Go West, young man"), hunting down Western outlaw Jesse James, joining up with the Texas Rangers, and so on. The chorus refers to famous singing cowboys Gene Autry and Roy Rogers, and lists common patterns depicted in Westerns such as six shooters (revolvers) and cattle drives.

Music video[edit]

"Should've Been a Cowboy" was Keith's first music video. Filmed in Las Cruces, New Mexico. It was directed by Marc Ball and premiered on CMT in March 1993. A second version of the video was made featuring clips of the 1992 Dallas Cowboys.[citation needed]

Other media[edit]

The song is available as downloadable content on the game Rock Band.

Chart positions[edit]

"Should've Been a Cowboy" debuted at number 69 on the Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart for the week of March 6, 1993.

Chart (1993) Peak
Canada Country Tracks (RPM)[3] 1
US Billboard Hot 100[4] 93
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[5] 1

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1993) Position
Canada Country Tracks (RPM)[6] 73
US Country Songs (Billboard)[7] 39


Region Certification Sales/shipments
United States (RIAA)[8] Gold 500,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ Shelburne, Craig (1 March 2007). "Toby Keith Jams, Notches 50 Million Airplays". CMT. Retrieved 4 October 2010. 
  2. ^ McDonnell, Brandy (10 October 2009). "Toby Keith discusses his "weird connection" to OU and OSU". Retrieved 4 June 2012. 
  3. ^ "Top RPM Country Tracks: Issue 0991." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. June 26, 1993. Retrieved August 5, 2013.
  4. ^ "Toby Keith Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Hot 100 for Toby Keith.
  5. ^ "Toby Keith Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Hot Country Songs for Toby Keith.
  6. ^ "RPM Top 100 Country Tracks of 1993". RPM. December 18, 1993. Retrieved August 5, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Best of 1993: Country Songs". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. 1993. Retrieved August 5, 2013. 
  8. ^ "American single certifications – Toby Keith – Should%27ve Been a Cowboy". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved December 12, 2012.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"I Love the Way You Love Me"
by John Michael Montgomery
Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks
number-one single

June 5–12, 1993
Succeeded by
"Blame It on Your Heart"
by Patty Loveless
Preceded by
"Tell Me Why"
by Wynonna
RPM Country Tracks
number-one single

June 26, 1993
Succeeded by
"Hometown Honeymoon"
by Alabama