The Song Remembers When: Jon Pardi – “Ain’t Always The Cowboy”

We take you behind the scenes and explore the making of one of our favorite tunes with The Song Remembers When…


In December 2020, Jon Pardi hit the Top Five with “Ain’t Always The Cowboy” which ultimately peaked at number three. It was written by Josh Thompson (“Any Ol’ Barstool,” “I’ll Name The Dogs”) and Brandon Kinney (“Drowns The Whiskey”).

Josh had the title and brought it to their writing session. They both agreed that this could be a good one and all they had to do was not screw it up. They wanted to show that a woman could embody the cowboy lifestyle – not settling down and taking off for adventures when she pleases.

In search of some inspiration, they went across the street from their office to a place called Virginia’s Market and picked up a 12-pack to help spur some creativity. That market is famous for inspiration when it comes to some of the biggest hits in country music. It’s right in the heart of Music Row where it all goes down.

Well, that 12-pack helped apparently… Josh and Brandon nailed down the opening verse. Then, they went on to the chorus where they included the line “Leaving love in the dust of a midnight Chevrolet, it ain’t always the cowboy that rides away.”

Brandon’s cousin is Jon’s producer Bart Butler, so he sent the song to Bart. When he opened the email and heard the song, Bart immediately wrote back and said, “Please tell me you still have this song!” Luckily, it hadn’t been claimed just yet, and Jon recorded it for his Heartache Medication album and released the song as the project’s second single.

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