Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1986 Boys Don’t Cry – I Wanna Be A Cowboy

Nick Richards recruited some additional musicians in Britain in 1983 and formed the group. Boys Don’t Cry.  The group took its name from a whispered lyric in I’m Not In Love by 10CC: “Big boys don’t cry.” That song probably owes a similar debt to Big Girls Don’t Cry by the Four Seasons. While the Cure had an album entitled Boys Don’t Cry, the group insists that wasn’t what inspired their name.

Several line-up changes took place over the next few years before the group recorded its first album in 1986. The only time the group got onto the Hot 100 was with the release of  I Wanna Be A Cowboy. The single reached #12 in the summer of 1986. They also used the song in the soundtrack of the film The Last Boy Scout in 1991.

The group released a second album the next year and then seemed to simply fade away, although they recorded and released a third album in 2014.

The phrase, “I wanna be a cowboy,” showed up in several other successful songs. The co-writers of the Boys Don’t Cry song subsequently filed lawsuits in at least two cases, claiming plagiarism of their song:

  • Paula Cole used the phrase in one of the remix versions of her 1997 hit record, Where Have All the Cowboys Gone? The phrase does not appear in the original version of the song.
  • Kid Rock used the phrase at the start of the chorus of his hit record, Cowboy, in 1999. The actual chorus appears to be the repetition of “Cowboy, Baby,” after the phrase, and Kid Rock’s rap/Country song is the first of its kind and doesn’t seem to be a derivative of much that came before it.

I can’t find any word on how the lawsuits settled or ended, but I can sympathize with the original writers at hearing the line from their one hit record on the air.


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