Our top 10 Chris LeDoux songs list digs deep into the music of an American artist famed for his country sound. Born in 1948, Chris LeDoux has his lifestyle paint an image of a true country boy. By his teenage years, he was a skilled horse rider, thanks to the lessons he took at his grandparent’s farm. Chris LeDoux would soon take part in rodeo competitions. Glory on the bareback riding competition led to Chris LeDoux bagging a rodeo college scholarship. By 1970, he was already a pro rodeo cowboy eligible for competition on the national level.
All through, Chris LeDoux knew he had that singing vibe in him. When his cowboy lifestyle demanded funds to sustain his rodeo events travels, it was time to cash in his vocal prowess for some returns. Most of his songs described his cowboy lifestyle and rodeo career. Chris took two years to pen songs sufficient to release on an album. His passion for country music was so huge that he collaborated with his father in establishing the American Cowboy Songs record label.
At first, he recorded most of his songs in a friend’s basement. With his name not known in the then flourishing country music scene, Chris LeDoux sold his initial music from the back of his truck in rodeo events he attended. The move was smart since most people in the rodeo events were the direct consumers of his music. Chris LeDoux would have more people appreciate his music after he bagged the bareback riding championship in 1976. The win put a stamp of legitimacy to his songs awarding him a cult following.
While his rodeo career came to a halt a few years after, Chris LeDoux’s music career grew even bigger. He dedicated his time to making more records and started showing up in live concerts. However, halting his rodeo career didn’t mean that everything about it would be buried for a lifetime. Chris LeDoux would often ride a mechanical bull in his live performances, entertaining his fans while still showcasing his awe-inspiring vocals and songwriting skills.
Amazingly, Chris sold hundreds of thousands of album copies with almost no marketing. He declined offers from other record labels all this time, choosing to stick to his label. However, he would have a second thought about this after he received nationwide attention after being mentioned in “Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)” by Garth Brooks. Consequently, Chris LeDoux signed a recording contract with Capitol Records. Here, he released the album Western Underground (1991), which was warmly received by country fans. Chris LeDoux went on to release Whatcha Gonna Do with a Cowboy (1992) as his follow-up to Western Underground (1991). The album’s title track featured Garth Brooks, whom Chris LeDoux has credited for his national celebrity status.
“Whatcha Gonna Do with a Cowboy” was a massive duet having it receive a Grammy Award nomination for the Best Country Vocal Collaboration in 1992. While the song lost the award to “The Whiskey Ain’t Workin” by Marty Stuart and Travis Tritt, it brought Chris LeDoux to newfound fame in the then-evolving country music scene. Sadly, Chris LeDoux fell ill after some successful time in the music industry.
Garth Brooks proved to be a ride-or-die type of friend when he offered to donate part of his liver to Chris, who at the time required a liver transplant. However, his liver was incompatible with Chris LeDoux’s, forcing the doctors to find someone else. Sadly, Chris would eventually die from bile duct cancer in 2005. Here are the top 10 Chris LeDoux songs that showcase his inspirational breakthrough into the country music scene.
#10 – For Your Love
Ushering us to the top 10 Chris LeDoux songs is the hit “For Your Love.” The song was released in his album Under This Old Hat (1993). While Chris LeDoux might have been an avid songwriter, his creativity eventually took a slight nosedive in the 1990s. Probably not what many might have wanted from this entertaining country artist and cowboy, but the gamble paid off. “For Your Love” is a song penned and recorded by Joe Ely for his album Dig All Night (1988). The Yardbirds had released a song with a similar title (but different lyrics) in 1965.
#9 – Hooked On an 8 Second Ride
“Hooked On an 8 Second Ride” is a brilliant song from the album Chris LeDoux and The Saddle Boogie Band (1988). The song takes us back to the awe-inspiring rodeo cowboy lifestyle of Chris LeDoux. Chris captures the spirit of the bareback riding sport in which he was a national champion. While many saw the passion in his talent, Chris felt like it was more like an addiction to the danger in the sport.
#8 – Cadillac Ranch
Whatcha Gonna Do with a Cowboy (1992) was such a massive album having it peak at number nine on the Billboard Top Country Albums Chart. The album featured top hits such as the up-tempo “Cadillac Ranch.” “Cadillac Ranch” finds Chris LeDoux singing about finding a solution to a financial quagmire by turning a farm into a nightclub. This feels more like what he did when he established a music career to carter for his national rodeo competition travels. However, his music career feels seamlessly superb and nothing like a backup plan for his financial needs. The song peaked at number eighteen on the Billboard Hot Country Songs Chart.
#7 – Bang a Drum
“Bang a Drum” is one of Chris’s covers featured on the album One Road Man (1998). Originally, the song was released by the American band Bon Jovi on the album Blaze of Glory (1990). Chris LeDoux took on the song inviting singer Jon Bon Jovi on the guest vocals. He tagged Shawn Lane along on the song to perform a guitar solo. Shan Lane brings his exceptional guitar skills to this song, proving why he was called upon by many artists such as Joe Walsh, Ringo Starr, Johnny Cash, and Waylon Jennings for collaborations. “Bang a Drum” peaked at number sixty-eight on the Billboard Hot Country Songs Chart.
#6- Tougher Than the Rest
Number six on our top 10 Chris LeDoux songs is the hit “Tougher Than the Rest.” The song covers Bruce Springsteen’s version featured on his album Tunnel of Love (1987). Chris featured his version on his album Haywire (1994). The song brings some magnificent vocals from Chris LeDoux. While he might not have reached similar feats to Bruce Springsteen with this release, it is without a doubt that his country vibe added a magical touch to the song. Other artists who covered the song include Emmylou Harris, Travis Tritt, Angel Olsen, Everything But The Girl, and Shawn Colvin.
#5 – Copenhagen
“Copenhagen” is one of the best songs from the album Songs of Rodeo Life (1971). The song’s lyrics allude to chewing tobacco. “Copenhagen” brings out Chris LeDoux as a dynamic performer. He would later perform this song alongside country musician Toby Keith, a collaboration that impressed many country fans.
#4 – Life Is a Highway
Initially, “Life Is a Highway” was released by Tom Cochrane, lead vocalist to the rock band Red Rider, in his sophomore studio album Mad Mad World (1991). Chris LeDoux released his version of the song on his album One Road Man (1998). However, he made a few changes to the song to give it a personal touch and a country feel. The song was a success for Chris LeDoux, reaching a peak position of number sixty-four on the Billboard Hot Country Songs Chart. Other artists to have covered the song include Rascal Flatts, whose cover was adopted for the 2006 animation Cars.
#3 – Look at You Girl
“Look at You Girl” is a romantic anthem from Whatcha Gonna Do with a Cowboy (1992). The song is delivered in a powerful tune, with Chris LeDoux seemingly singing to a woman he really treasures. While his romantic side stayed quite hidden, “Look at You Girl” allows Chris LeDoux to express some heartfelt emotions while still retaining his entertaining vibe.
#2 – Whatcha Gonna Do with a Cowboy ft. Garth Brooks
The world came to know Chris LeDoux from a mention in “Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)” by Garth Brooks. The two would soon release a duet which would become the title track to Chris LeDoux’s sophomore album release at Capitol Records. “Whatcha Gonna Do with a Cowboy” peaked at number seven on the Billboard Hot Country Songs Chart. It would also earn the duo a nomination for a Grammy Award for the Best Country Vocal Collaboration category.
#1- This Cowboy’s Hat
Number one on our top 10 Chris LeDoux songs list is the hit “This Cowboy’s Hat.” While the song might not have performed better than “Whatcha Gonna Do with a Cowboy” on the charts, there’s a strong and pure vibe that makes it worth mentioning as our number one on the list. Featured on Western Underground (1991), the song’s lyrics have a powerful message as to why one should never lay his or her hands on a cowboy’s hat. In a nutshell, the song alludes to respecting a man’s property. In this context, Chris LeDoux’s cowboy hat felt like a badge for him that no one should play with.
Feature Photo: by Marcin Nowak
Top 10 Chris LeDoux Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021
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