Listening to an album should be an experience (almost) every time. You should be able to pick out at least one favorite track. Likely you’ll put it on repeat so much that it becomes a part of you. At least for a little while. With “Be the Cowboy”, I’m definitely able to choose which tracks are my favorites. There’s no extreme humming and hawing in terms of choosing. I can get right to the point about it.
“Be the Cowboy” does take a few listens to really get into the groove of it. This isn’t to say the album is garbage in all caps. What I’m meaning is that I didn’t get sucked into it right away. Once I gave it a full listen, I knew which tracks I’d listen to a fair amount. And below you’ll see which ones precisely.
No, this isn’t a favorite just because it’s the first track on the album. It’s how the song starts off soft and then builds and builds. The lyrics are ominous in that way that you don’t know the precise meaning. At first listen it may sound like a declaration of love for a person.
Meanwhile this is what Mitski said about the song via NPR: “Ithink this is one of my vaguest songs. Usually my songs have a narrative of some sort. But this song is all feeling. I hesitate to say what it’s about just because once people find out what it’s about, they might find it unromantic. I wrote it about music or just maybe a music career or an ability to make music. I think as a musician you keep sacrificing other things in your life, sacrificing relationships, sacrificing other opportunities, maybe even your physical or mental health in order to do it because it’s not an easy thing to do, and it’s not a job that people need you to do. I wrote it over a long period of time thinking about all the things I give up for it, but I gladly give it up because I love it so much and I can’t imagine doing anything else.” What’s intriguing about that is that it truly is vague and isn’t that the point of certain songs? To stir us up and make us really think about what the lyrics mean to us? Versus what the artist may have originally intended.
- A Pearl
This happens to be the fourth track on the album and one of the best. It resonates with me and has me thinking about personal situations.In an interview with Fader, Mitski speaks about the meaning of the song, she says “ For me, it was actually about when you have some kind of toxic relationship to yourself, or to another person, for so long that it becomes your identity.”
- Lonesome Love
“Lonesome Love” swoops in afterwards and how is that a song that’s only 1:50 be so entrancing? This track wants you to remember that one person that butters you up. More than likely someone you want to forget, someone that makes you feel lonelier than not. And that’s what this song does to you. It makes you wonder why you’re wanting that in the first place. Are you just lonely and will take whatever you can get?
“My god, I’m so lonely” is such a chilling lyric to open up a song. That alone strikes that feeling that maybe you’re lonely too. Or maybe you’re just diving into moments when you were alone. The disco type beat in the background makes you want to dance but the lyrics make you want to sit. Then when you get to the chorus it repeats “nobody” over and over. You examine how that makes you actually feel. Verse 3 references fluctuation in her literal body then it dives into how she wants to be kissed. It reminds me how many meanings can be incorporated into one song. And that’s pretty damn amazing.
- Pink in the Night
This song speaks about heartbreak in a good way. How you’re crumbling for someone and it actually feels good. This type of exploration of heartbreak is one I’ve never really heard in a song. It confronts this idea that your heart can break in a way that doesn’t make you feel like a trash bag set on fire.And that’s a major reason why it’s a song that I can repeat with ease.
- Washing Machine Heart
The beat alone on this song is enough to make me love it. And the lyrics tend to make me self-analyze or at least think deeply. That may or may not be the point of the song. Though regardless it doesn’t seem to matter all that much. The song is a quirky type of beautiful.
- Blue Light
This is one of the shortest tracks on the entire album and its gold. Mitski has that ability to seem like she’s being simplistic, only to be complex in some fashion. “Blue Light” is hands down one of the iconic songs on this album.
- Two Slow Dancers
Heartbreak (of all sorts) and loneliness are very much the central themes of the album.
Nostalgia is what you’re given before you end your journey.“Two Slow Dancers”,just like every other song on the album, can be taken in different ways. But what it invokes is a stir of wanting and craving for a different time. Maybe for a person or situation that has changed. Nevertheless, this strikingly beautiful and thought-provokingsong will stay with you.