What does Cowgirl in the Sand mean?

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Neil Young: Cowgirl in the Sand Meaning

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Cowgirl in the Sand Lyrics

Hello, cowgirl in the sand,
Hello, cowgirl in the sand,
Is this place at your command.
Can I stay here for a while,
Can I see your sweet, sweet smile. old enough now to change your name.
When so many love you, is it the same?
It's the...

  1.  

    anonymous
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    Yesterday, 22:37 report


    I'm not certain, but I have a feeling that the song is about Joni Mitchell. Neil Young met her several years before he wrote this song.



  2.  

    anonymous
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    Apr 29th, 4:05am report


    I love this song. It may be my favorite Neil Young song. It is a mistake to try to interpret some lyrics and some poems too literally. A poet and often a great lyricist play with words, reaching for a sound and a rhythm. With a lyricist the words and the music have to fit so a song like this one is evocative rather than literal. I think most of the song is pretty straightforward. The only question that I've wondered about for years is what is a cowgirl in the sand. I heard a great CBC interview with NY in which he said he didn't know where the songs come from, that the best thing he can do is get outta the way and let the songs come through him



  3.  

    anonymous
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    Jun 25th, 2012 6:46am report


    He wrote it while lying in bed with a 103 degree fever. You can't have your songs mean anything when you're that sick.



  4.  

    anonymous
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    May 25th, 2012 5:47pm report


    PURPLE WORDS ON A GREY BACKGROUND, LE LONER-BLOG DE JACQUES-ERIC LEGARDE
    "This is a song I wrote about the beaches in Spain. I've never been on the beaches in Spain.
    Sort of my own idea of what it's like over there".
    Intro de "Cowgirl in the Sand", Londres 27 février 1971



  5.  

    anonymous
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    Nov 17th, 2011 11:02pm report


    The lyrics above have two serious mistakes. It's not "we'd turned back," it's "we'd turned bad" and it's "purple words on a gray background". The lyrics are printed on the album sleeve of Four-Way Street, the live CSN&Y album. The sinister intepretations of the song are ridiculous when you get the lyrics right.



  6.  

    anonymous
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    May 2nd, 2011 5:05pm report


    I would say it is about a prostitute....

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway


  7.  

    drogovska
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    Apr 15th, 2011 4:47am report


    I have to say, and I mean no sarcasm or skepticism--only curiosit--there is an amazing amount of detail and certainty in the previous anonymous posts. Could these anonymous posts have been written by the actual author of the song?

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway


  8.  

    anonymous
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    Apr 4th, 2011 4:03pm report


    NY is singing about someone who is afraid of commitment and therefore is looking for someone who is never really available. Furthermore when he finds the woman of his dreams he still turns her down.

    I hear a little angry towards women{ its the women in u that makes u want to play this game}

    I love NY and I am not male hater.



  9.  

    anonymous
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    Mar 5th, 2011 3:30pm report


    "After all the sin we've had,
    I was hoping that we'd turn back."

    This suggests the girl was pregnant, and the singer did not want her to go ahead and have the child. This of course adds to the loss and grief expressed in the song, as he soon comes to regret the loss of his love, and his unborn child...



  10.  

    anonymous
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    Mar 5th, 2011 3:24pm report


    Actually, have listened some more, and i've decided my first impressions were correct. Should not have been misled by the lyrics on this site and elsewhere. Its most definitely NOT "Purple words on a grey background". Its "Purple words on the grey dark ground". This is a reference to the dried blood on the ground, and the story it tells...



  11.  

    anonymous
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    Feb 17th, 2011 2:17am report


    I should add, since noone else in the world seems to understand it, the line "purple words on a grey background" means this:

    By the third verse, much more time has passed. His life has become a meaningless dull grey background, but he still dreams of her, vividly, and in particular the violent end of it all. Purple means angry, apoplectic with rage, on the verge of murder. So his dreams have become nightmares, those final moments and words, the words that drove him to kill. Repeated night after night... driving the pain and loss into his skull until he can bear no more.



  12.  

    anonymous
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    Feb 17th, 2011 2:58am report


    A bit more detail to my explanation above:

    This song is about a young guy who has murdered his sweetheart. The setting is arid sandy, dusty texas-style ranch territory. The first verse has the singer looking down at her lying dead in the sand. "is this place at your command" suggests she was a bit too sure of herself and her ability to manipulate others, and it has backfired on her, badly. He asks permission to stay for a while and remember her sweet smile. In the 2nd verse, she is now buried, like a ruby in the dust, and has been for some time.

    The singer had known her when she was under-age, and given her some sort of promise ring which would be beginning to rust as she moulders in the ground. Its not a proper gold wedding ring, just a cheap token designed to last until she was old enough to be marry him. But, the girl had become a bit too popular for her own good, and liked leading other guys on, and eventually went too far with one or some of them, or was suspected of doing so. She says she still wants to marry the singer, but he doesn't believe she loves him as deeply as he does, or at all. How can she, when she has so many other guys in love with her, and they're just playthings to her. He turns her down, but is still compelled to murder her in a jealous rage at the prospect of her continuing her games with other men. The guitar exquisitely conveys how he is overcome with grief, pain, and remorse.



  13.  

    anonymous
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    Feb 17th, 2011 2:23am report


    This song is about a young guy who has murdered his sweetheart. She is now buried in the dust. She was under-age, and the ring that he has given her, is probably beginning to rust, because it wasn't a proper gold wedding ring, just a cheap trinket designed to last until she was old enough to be marry him. But, the girl was a bit too popular for her own good, and liked leading other guys on, and eventually went too far with one or some of them. Result - the singer murders her in a jealous rage, and is overcome with grief and remorse.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway


  14.  

    Graceless.Lady
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    Feb 28th, 2010 2:59am report


    Although murky, buried in "purple words on a grey background," this song is about a love affair the singer is having with a married woman whose (wedding) band has "begun to rust." In fact, "ruby" may even be a play on both the gemstone and a name for a woman who cheats--that infamous "Ruby" Kenny Rogers sang of in the same year (1969). The singer is warning this "Ruby" not to leave her husband ("change [her] name") for him because ultimately he does not want her. She may be the "woman of [his] dreams," but their relationship is a "sin," and besides, he suspects that, in the end, she's just playing games. So his song really is "not the way it seems" at first: he's rejecting her, turning her down. The "so many who love" her is most likely a reference to her husband and family--all the people she should consider before she gets too wrapped up with her lover.




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