The movie Urban Cowboy was a modest hit upon its 1980 release. Its soundtrack, however, was a much different, more successful story.
The double LP spawned three country No. 1 hits (Johnny Lee’s “Lookin’ for Love,” Mickey Gilley‘s “Stand By Me” and Anne Murray‘s “Could I Have This Dance”), while its Kenny Rogers track, ”Love the World Away,” peaked at No. 4. All four of those songs also reached the pop Top 40, as did two other tunes: Boz Scaggs’ “Look What You’ve Done to Me” and Joe Walsh’s “All Night Long.”
Beyond specific hits, the so-called “urban cowboy” movement created a country style of its own, rooted in melodic tunes that had soft rock leanings. One of the film’s producers, Irving Azoff, “had seen the massive acceptance of the California sound — the Eagles, Linda Ronstadt — which was rooted in country,” music coordinator Becky Mancuso-Winding told Texas Monthly.
“And you could already hear the Eagles’ influence on Nashville. Irving knew it was time for a crossover, and not just musically,” she added. “He’d looked at the disco movement and Saturday Night Fever. He knew Urban Cowboy could impact the way people dressed, ate, danced, listened.”
Although Azoff wanted the soundtrack to feature only the Eagles, the tracklist eventually expanded to include other artists and then-recent hits by groups such as the Charlie Daniels Band. It ended up being a great move: The album felt more like a great compilation than a mere movie soundtrack.
Here’s how’s all 18 tracks on the Urban Cowboy soundtrack stack up against each other today.