What does Cowgirl in the Sand mean?

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Neil Young: Cowgirl in the Sand Meaning


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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...


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    Nov 16th, 11:30pm report

    Well sering as I'm from that era & had as of yet undiagnosed ADHD (of course they didn't know about ADHD back when I was just a little chitlin!


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    Aug 17th, 8:05am report

    100% this is about Joni Mitchell who had romantic relationships with everyone in CSNY at some time.
    I’m curious about “purple words on a grey background “. Somehow it seems funereal to me.
    But I’d like Neil’s interpretation thank you.


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    Oct 16th, 2018 10:13pm report

    It's about a cowgirl from Arizona she is in the sand it's about her growth as an artist and women.purple words on a grey background ...is her album cover ...band rust ...getting old


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    Sep 14th, 2018 9:12pm report

    In 1813, North Maxwell Pyke, invited four women over to his house. Three of them smoked four joints, arising a peruvian torch, Israel, written in stone, and grown in sand.


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    Aug 15th, 2018 8:06am report

    All about Joni


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    Jul 2nd, 2017 7:33pm report

    I think it's about a Canadian kid landing in Southern Calif, Hollywood, beaches, etc and how he deals with assault on his senses. Ultimately dealing with fame and fortune, which ages and ruins most people. The same 'ol sex drugs and rock n' roll story. He was probably stoned on Venice beach and imagined he was in Spain with any number of women who wanted him because of all different reasons, but mostly for sex, his money, or groupypower.


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    Jun 5th, 2017 6:22am report

    I began searching for the "purple words on a gray background," too. As a woman, living through the 60s and 70s it reminds me so much of Young's songs - love had, love lost or life passes so quickly either from old age (old man) or drugs (needle and the damage done). Now that I am older, much older, I have gone to many funerals and see all types of headstones that weather from age. Most of them are set in concrete that fades to a drab gray and the original letters look like a deep purple. I'm glad that artists do not always divulge the real meaning of their lyrics because I prefer that all of us interpret them in our own ways. ♥


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    Jun 1st, 2017 6:16pm report

    Beautiful woman he knew and times they had together...
    Good and bad.


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    Mar 19th, 2017 3:42pm report

    I have no idea what the song is really about, but I always took it this way:

    It's about a certain type of woman's life.

    Starts off when she's about 18 (old enough to change your name,) and she's very attractive and men flock to her. (Is this place at your command) and she plays with them, because she can. She's young and hot and why not? (It's the woman in you that makes you want to play this game.)

    Then she begins to get older and eventually settles down only to find (hello ruby in the dust, has your band begun to rust.) She's in a middle aged marriage and it's failing.

    Finally, she finds herself alone. "Hello woman of og my dreams, this is not the way it seems....) Here I have a disagreement with the lyrics. I think he's saying "purple words on a grey dark ground." A metaphor for dried blood on the ground? A reference to her beauty being lost to time and it's impact on her. (To be a woman and to be turned down..."

    Again, this is just my personal take on it and it probably has nothing to do with what Neil was thinking. Who knows?


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    May 14th, 2016 5:06pm report

    I think "purple words on a grey background" is referring to a wedding invitation. It seems to fit with the the lyrics that follow...


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    Apr 3rd, 2015 4:50am report

    This song is about a folksinger that he met in March of 1970. She had red hair and they were supposed to meet up later where he was playing at "The River" He wrote 3 songs on the same day that were supposedly about her. Down by the River, Cinnamon Girl, and Cowgirl in the Sand. They spent the day together. When they were supposed to meet back up she had gotten very ill and couldn't show. He waited for her at " The River" for 2 hours and finally left.


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    Nov 8th, 2014 11:51pm report

    Holy smoke, I've never seen or read so much bullsh*t, as the too many posts about this song! Turn back, turn bad, purple this, grey that! So what? However you interpret it, you're right! End of story! Sheesh! THUnderhill


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    Oct 23rd, 2014 10:37pm 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.


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    Apr 29th, 2014 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


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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.

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