Gillian Welch and David Rawlings wrote “When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings” for the recent six-part Coen brothers anthology, The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs. We premiered the Oscar-nominated original song, sung by Tim Blake Nelson as Buster Scruggs alongside Willie Watson as “The Kid.” Today, Welch and Rawlings share a new version that they will perform at the 91st Academy Awards on 2/24. Their rendition embraces a more subdued yodel, trading twang for lullaby.
Welch expands on the songwriting process in an interview with Variety:
It was a pretty straightforward thing: ‘Well, we need a song for when two singing cowboys gun it out, and then they have to do a duet with one of ‘em dead. You think you can do that?’ ‘Yeah, I think we can do that’ … The more peculiar restraints you put upon a song, the more fun it is, so this was kind of a dream assignment. And they didn’t tell us to do this, but if you’re writing a gunfight song between two singing cowboys, who wouldn’t love the opportunity to put some yodeling in?
Listen to Welch and Rawlings’ new version of “When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings” below.