CIRCA 1980: Actor John Travolta poses with Charlie Daniels and his band on set of the Paramount Pictures movie 'Urban Cowboy" circa 1980.
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'Urban Cowboy': A Track-By-Track Guide to Its Genre-Shifting Soundtrack

The 1980 movie Urban Cowboy needs no introduction. Nor does its original motion picture soundtrack— a various artists variety platter of the rockers, singer-songwriters and country singers on the ground level of one of pop-country's most lucrative runs.

Though co-producer Irving Azoff reportedly wanted nothing but Eagles songs, the final track listing featured everything from mainstream country stars (Kenny Rogers, Mickey Gilley) to roots-rock influencers (Bonnie Raitt, Bob Seger).

On the Nashville end, Elektra and WEA's double album brought three No. 1 hits to Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart (Johnny Lee's "Lookin' for Love," Mickey Gilley's "Stand By Me" and Anne Murray's "Could I Have This Dance").

After country music evolved beyond its early '80s surge in popularity, the Urban Cowboy soundtrack became a go-to source of nostalgia for a time when honky-tonks became highfalutin. In December 2018, one of the best-selling compilations of its time earned triple platinum status from the RIAA.

Here's a rundown of all 18 songs.

"Hello Texas," Jimmy Buffett

Though the leader of the Parrotheads' name might look out of place here, this dive bar-ready stomper is among the album's strongest blends of rock fervor and country pride.

"All Night Long," Joe Walsh

A blues-rock guitar god and Eagles member, Joe Walsh puzzle-pieces in perfectly as an out-of-genre guest. It makes even more sense now as a honky-tonk night out banger after the classic rockification of Nashville that took place in the '90s.

"Times Like These," Dan Fogelberg

The late Dan Folgelberg ups the guitar rock factor more so than even Walsh with this song about the hardscrabble, city-dwelling element of the Urban Cowboy image that turned the nightclub crowd into western wear shoppers.

"Nine Tonight," Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band

It could be argued that Bob Seger's rootsy, bluesy take on the rock music of the time made him Americana before Americana was cool. Thus, he and his Silver Bullet Band fit a country-themed soundtrack via a song with an added tinge of ZZ Top's Texas-drenched sound.

"Stand by Me," Mickey Gilley

Gilley benefitted from Urban Cowboy beyond the popularity boost for Gilley's, the Texas bar at the heart of the film. After all, this sentimental take on a Ben E. King classic became one of his 17 No. 1 hits.

"Cherokee Fiddle," Johnny Lee

The Urban Cowboy moment paid off years of hard work for Gilley and Lee, a fellow Texan. The spotlight on Lee brought us this, the most arresting traditional country song on a soundtrack that includes the undeniably great "The Devil Went Down to Georgia." It was written by a third Texas native who'd long deserved this platform, Michael Martin Murphey.

"Could I Have This Dance," Anne Murray

One of this Canadian country legend's signature hits stands up against Lee and Charlie Daniels' work when it comes to which songs on the soundtrack sound the most old fashioned. It's a slow dance-worthy love ballad that could've been a hit for any number of artists at other points in country music history. It won Murray her second Grammy award for Best Country Vocal Performance, Female.

"Lyin' Eyes," Eagles

Azoff's ideal band for the film soundtrack made the cut with this, the group's only Top 40 country song from the '70s. It's a benchmark of country-rock, for sure, between Glenn Frey's emotive lead vocal performance and vocal harmonies plucked directly from country music tradition.

"Lookin' for Love," Johnny Lee

Lee cemented his spot atop the Urban Cowboy soundtrack heap with another steel guitar-laden stunner that shows his sensitive side and pushes to the forefront his God-given talent as a vocal stylist.

"Don't It Make Ya Wanna Dance," Bonnie Raitt

Like Seger, Bonnie Raitt set up shop long before the '80s at the intersection of roots music and rock 'n' roll, making her ideal for for the Urban Cowboy moment. Plus, this selection is traditional instrument-fueled Texas dancehall music (circa 1980) at its finest.

"Don't It Make Ya Wanna Dance" is an often-covered song by Austin songwriting legend Rusty Wier.

"The Devil Went Down to Georgia," the Charlie Daniels Band

Though "Lyin' Eyes" might get more radio airplay over 40 years later, "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" is surely the most famous and culturally-relevant song on the album. It's peak Southern rock and the main reason Daniels remains the most famous fiddle shredder (Texan Bob Wills included) in country music lore.

"Here Comes the Hurt Again," Mickey Gilley

Gilley took a giant step toward crossover star status —a shift that didn't completely water down the throwback balladry that netted prior hits— through the reintroduction of this heartbreak song that cracked country's Top 10 in 1978.

"Orange Blossom Special/Hoedown," Gilley's Urban Cowboy Band

No Texas-themed survey of where country music had been before the '80s and where it was heading next would've been complete without a white-hot instrumental jam of an old, familiar tune — the sort you would've heard nightly back then at a club like Gilley's.

"Love the World Away," Kenny Rogers

Though he became a household name in the '70s, the '80s was the decade when Rogers established himself as one of his generation's tippy-top ballad singers. That shift from country star to pop phenom began at a key moment in the crossover timeline.

"Falling in Love for the Night," the Charlie Daniels Band

Daniels channeled his inner Allman Brother while incorporating Tex-Mex flavor on one of several light-hearted story-songs in his repertoire. It's about an ill-advised hookup, which makes it suit a film about countrified city nightlife.

"Darlin'," Bonnie Raitt

With a raspy, soulful voice comparable to that of Tracy Nelson, Raitt reigned as one of the best vocalists in all of popular music long before 1989's Nick of Time sealed her legendary status. On "Darlin'," she captures heartbreak and hard living with a performance comparable to some of Tammy Wynette's best work.

"Look What You've Done to Me," Boz Scaggs

Of the 18 tracks on the original double album, this co-write by Boz Scaggs and David Foster is the furthest sonically from country or roots music. Instead, it sounds more like the soft rock that filled soundtracks of the time. Still, it's one of the film's most successful songs, reaching No. 3 on the adult contemporary chart.

"Hearts Against the Wind," Linda Ronstadt & JD Souther

California country-rock notables Linda Ronstadt and JD Souther sidestep commercial country and electrified rock on this mandolin-accompanied harmony showpiece. It punctuates a soundtrack that tried to define what all country music could mean as the genre entered its seventh decade.

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