Tanya Tucker’s “When the Rodeo Is Over” Music Video Takes an Emotional Dive into the Lives of Cowboys

Tanya Tucker Expresses Chills and Personal Connection to “When the Rodeo Is Over” Music Video


In a picturesque setting at Y.O. Ranch in Mountain Home, TX, during sunset, Tanya Tucker delivers a heartfelt performance of her song “When the Rodeo is Over (Where Does the Cowboy Go?)” while wrapped in a blanket. The poignant lyrics reflect on the cowboy’s journey, contemplating the finality of a ride, the toll it takes on the heart and body, and the uncertainty that follows once the rodeo concludes.

The track is featured on Tucker’s latest album, “Sweet Western Sound,” which follows her Grammy-winning 2019 album “While I’m Livin’.” Produced by Shooter Jennings and Brandi Carlile, both albums have reinvigorated Tucker’s career, connecting her with a new generation of country music enthusiasts. While the song “Bring My Flowers Now” from the previous album encourages celebrating individuals while they are alive to appreciate it, “When the Rodeo is Over (Where Does the Cowboy Go?)” delves into the aftermath for cowboys when the rodeo no longer values their contributions.

The song “When the Rodeo is Over (Where Does the Cowboy Go?)” was written by Billy Don Burns and Craig Dillingham, and Tanya Tucker’s close friend and longtime collaborator Joanne Gardner came out of retirement to direct the music video, which premiered on CMT. Gardner has directed numerous videos for Tucker in the ’90s, including popular hits like “It’s a Little Too Late” and “Two Sparrows in a Hurricane.”

Upon watching the video for the first time, Tucker was deeply moved and even shed tears. She was initially unsure if others would feel the same way, but everyone she shared it with had a similar emotional response. Tucker expressed her gratitude and joy for the final result.

Gardner’s concept of wrapping Tucker in a blanket and placing her on a hilltop added a powerful visual element to the emotional video. The “When the Rodeo is Over (Where Does the Cowboy Go?)” video effectively portrays the feelings of loss, confusion, and abandonment experienced by cowboys when they are forced to step away from the rodeo before they are ready to quit.

The video is dedicated to the memory of professional rodeo cowboy Larry Mahan, a six-time all-around world champion and two-time bull riding world champion. It also pays tribute to other rodeo legends. The presence of prominent cowboys such as Bobby “Hooter” Brown, a champion saddle rider and hall of fame member, adds authenticity to the video. Both Dillingham and Burns, the songwriters, also appear in the video.

Interestingly, Dillingham, who is Tucker’s boyfriend, had written the song 20 years prior without Tucker’s knowledge. When Tucker discovered the song and decided to record it, she had no idea that Dillingham was the songwriter. The serendipitous connection added to the profound experience of working on the song and video.

The song resonated with Tucker, given her lifelong involvement with the rodeo since her teenage years. She initially worried that people who were not as familiar with the rodeo lifestyle wouldn’t connect with the song. However, she soon realized that the song’s themes of transition, aging, and searching for purpose after a fulfilling career extend beyond the rodeo world. Numerous people shared similar stories with Tucker, confirming that the song’s message had a broader universal appeal.

Tucker described the process of creating the video and the song coming together as a “God thing,” attributing the meaningful collaboration and synchronicities to a higher power.