Meaning of “LOVE IS A COWBOY” by Kelsea Ballerini

Written By Michael Miller

Michael is a music teacher and professional cellist. He loves uncovering the deeper meaning of popular songs.

“LOVE IS A COWBOY” by Kelsea Ballerini is a lyrical exploration of love’s unpredictable and untamable nature, likening it to a cowboy with all its complexities and contradictions. The song delves into the idea that love, much like a cowboy, is alluring yet elusive, capable of bringing immense joy and profound heartache. It’s about the thrill of the chase, the highs and lows of relationships, and the wild ride that comes with opening your heart. Ballerini paints love as a force that’s wild and free, something that can’t be controlled or contained, echoing the spirit of a cowboy’s life. This track is not about a specific person but serves as a metaphor for the experience of love itself. It reflects on the beauty and pain of love, highlighting how it can lift you to exhilarating heights and leave you in the depths of despair. Ballerini’s songwriting here is an ode to the daring ones who brave the rodeo of love, knowing well the ride might throw them yet coming back for more.

Ever felt like love was an untamed horse, impossible to hold onto? Dive into the world of Kelsea Ballerini’s “LOVE IS A COWBOY” and explore the wild heart of romance.

“LOVE IS A COWBOY” Lyrics Meaning

Kelsea Ballerini’s “LOVE IS A COWBOY” weaves a compelling narrative that equates the complexities of love to the rugged, unpredictable nature of a cowboy. The opening lines, “Rough around the edges, stops you in your tracks / Wrecks you in the worst way when it looks like that,” set the tone for a love that’s as mesmerizing as it is challenging. This love captivates and devastates, akin to the way a cowboy’s life is filled with beauty and trials.

As the song unfolds, Ballerini elaborates on the dichotomy of love’s allure and its propensity to elude grasp. “You can wrap your arms around it but you can’t make it stay / All the bad ones say they’re good and all the good ones ride away,” she sings, highlighting the frustration and helplessness often felt in the throes of love. The mention of “a little El Dorado and a little bit John Wayne” further enriches the imagery, blending the idea of a mythical, unattainable paradise with the archetype of the lone, honorable cowboy.

The chorus, “Makes your heart feel like wild horses in your chest / Trying to catch, it’s like tryna tame a wild, wild west,” beautifully captures the exhilaration and futility of trying to contain love’s essence. Ballerini uses the metaphor of wild horses and the wild west to depict love’s boundless, untamable spirit, emphasizing the thrill and the challenge of engaging with such a powerful force.

Further in, Ballerini touches on the transformative power of love, “Take your dancin’ in that neon, leave you cryin’ in it too / Yeah, gets ya drunk like whiskey and higher than the moon.” These lines speak to love’s ability to evoke the fullest spectrum of emotions, from euphoria to despair, likening the experience to the intoxicating effects of whiskey and the lofty, dreamlike state of being moonstruck.

As the song closes, the repeated line, “Love is a cowboy, mm-mm,” serves as a poignant reminder of the song’s central thesis: love is a journey marked by adventure, beauty, and pain. It’s unpredictable, wild, and free, much like a cowboy riding through the vast, untamed landscapes of the heart.

Why Was “LOVE IS A COWBOY” Written?

Kelsea Ballerini penned “LOVE IS A COWBOY” from a place of introspection and a desire to articulate the complexities of love through a fresh lens. At this point in her life and career, Ballerini was exploring deeper emotional truths, reflecting on her own experiences with love and its myriad forms. The song emerges as a creative expression of the paradoxical qualities of love—its capacity to empower and to wound, to liberate and to bind.

In writing this song, Ballerini tapped into the rich imagery and mythology of the cowboy, an enduring symbol of freedom, adventure, and solitude. By drawing parallels between love and the cowboy’s way of life, she offers listeners a nuanced perspective on love’s nature, one that acknowledges its wildness and its beauty. “LOVE IS A COWBOY” is a testament to Ballerini’s growth as a songwriter and her willingness to navigate the complexities of the heart with openness and courage.