When Patsy Montana revisited “I Want to Be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart” in 1964, she didn’t turn to the film stars of her heyday for help. Instead, she employed a then-unknown guitarist with an appreciation for cowboy heroes named Waylon Jennings.
The original 1935 version was the first million-selling country song recorded by a woman. Despite the song’s deceptive title, Montana longed to be more than just a suitor. She wanted to ride, wrangle and save the day as the singing cowboy’s equal. It was a bold musical statement that paved the way for every female country singer who’s since challenged the status quo, from Kitty Wells to Kacey Musgraves.
Montana ended semi-retirement with At the Matador Room. Released by the Arizona-based Sims label, the album featured a modernized take on early country and western music. Jennings’ impressive guitar work accentuated Montana’s legendary yodeling solos. The updated version reflected such post-World War II musical developments as rockabilly and the Bakersfield sound.
Both legends had Country Music Hall of Fame careers without their brief collaboration. Still, the 1964 version of Montana’s greatest song proved to be a timeless trail anthem, years after paved highways led country music East to Nashville.