Cody Johnson always keeping it real.
During last night’s ACM Awards, CoJo performed a flawless tribute to the legendary Willie Nelson with a performance of the classic “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys.”
Though Willie wasn’t there in person, he did appear by video – and of course he had to throw a weed joke in there while giving Garth Brooks ideas of what he could get Willie for his birthday:
“Well Dolly had the right idea Garth. I love all kinds of flowers – and plants too.”
Cody then paid tribute to the living legend with one of his most iconic songs, his duet with Waylon Jennings, “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys.” First recorded by Ed Bruce and co-written with his wife Patsy, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson covered the song on their iconic 1978 duets album Waylon & Willie.
Of course, their version became extremely popular, and spent four weeks at the top of the country charts in 1978. They even won the Grammy award for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal in 1979.
But Cody also put his own spin on it there in the middle of the song. In a subtle but clearly intentional message, Cody changed up the words to the chorus ever so slightly:
“Mamas don’t let your cowboys grow up to be babies”
And just to make sure everybody know he meant it, Cody added:
“I meant what I said.”
The crowd loved it (although a few of them probably shouldn’t have, because some of those “babies” he was talking about were likely sitting in the audience), and Cody just further cemented himself as one of the most authentic guys in country music.
Of course it’s a line that’s been switched up in the past by others signing the song (including Willie and Waylon themselves), and Tony Joe White even wrote a song by the same name.
But Cody’s never been afraid to speak his mind, whether he’s speaking out about his support for his country or his country music. In fact, during an appearance on our Whiskey Riff Raff podcast Cody even called out country radio for telling him his song was “too rodeo for radio.”
Authenticity in country music. We need more guys like CoJo out there keeping it real.