Lessons Learned from Urban Cowboy

Urban Cowboy was a big part of my childhood. I’m confident the administration of HISD issued a VHS copy to each student entering kindergarten in 1980. The movie just made sense to us. I pretty much grew up with the cast of characters in Urban Cowboy. We like bull riding, two-stepping and bartenders who handed over a cold beverage without you having to ask for one. Living in Texas is just like living at Cheers. Everyone knows your name. And your drink order.

I gleaned so much wisdom from Bud and Sissy falling in love on a dance floor, getting married at Gilley’s bar, fighting like idiots, hurting each other during a break-up and falling in love all over again in a parking lot. Here’s hoping these life lessons will help you navigate seemingly impossible decisions like, “Should I enter the Dolly Parton lookalike contest?”

Dear friend. The answer to that one is always yes.

Lessons Learned

  • John Travolta looks so much more handsome without a beard.
  • Nothing says, “Happy Honeymoon” like a convict rodeo.
  • A post-op doctor visit is overrated. Use a butter knife to remove your own cast.
  • It’s okay to yell angrily at stranger, “HEY TATTOO” as long as the tats are big and visible.
  • Never purchase a black, mesh shirt unless you’re going to a Halloween party as Wes Hightower.
  • The rich girl from Houston is nice, but also consider the plucky local girl who doesn’t own a bra.
  • It’s entirely possible to eat the worm out of the bottom of a bottle of tequila without drinking the entire bottle of tequila.
  • Watch out if you work in the oilfield. You could break your back if you’re not careful.
  • Some cowboys got smarts real good.
  • A Lone Star beer can fit in the back pocket of a pair of Wranglers.
  • Feel the need to punch someone in the face? Go to Gilley’s.
  • Bored on a Tuesday night? Go to Gilley’s.
  • Have a hankering for slow humping a mechanical bull? Go to Gilley’s.

Urban Cowboy
Quotes I Still Recite:

  • Fine. Forget it.
  • I’ve got a thumb. I’ve got a middle finger.
  • McDonald’s again?
  • You know how to two-step? [You bet.] Wanna prove it? [Alright.]
  • Daddy does oil. And all that that implies.
  • My legs are sweating, Mama.

Urban Cowboy
Soundtrack Favorites You Should Purchase:

‘Hello Texas’ by Jimmy Buffett
‘Stand By Me’ by Mickey Gilley
‘Cherokee Fiddle’ by Johnny Lee
‘Could I Have This Dance’ by Anne Murray
‘Lookin’ For Love’ by Johnny Lee
‘The Devil Went Down To Georgia’ by The Charlie Daniels Band

Now it’s your turn! Which quotes did I miss? Do you long for personalized license plates? Or is that just me? Did you love Pam and hate that you loved Pam? Did you think Wes Hightower was gross? Did you think Uncle Bob’s personality was as big as his waistline? Do you have any idea what I’m talking about?


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RyannRick VClaire FreemanConnieCarolyn Recent comment authors
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I’m all about ‘Look What You’ve Done to Me’ by Boz Scaggs.

Funny story, my mom is as refined and elegant as they come, but when this comes on the TV she drops everything to watch it. Something about it really gets to her. Scott Glenn could be pretty sexy back in the day, so I think that’s why.


And what’s more, we can move it if we want to (when they move into their trailer after getting married).


I like my tuna salad with pecaaahhhns. (not how we pronounce it in the north!)


“Is it ours?!”
“And, we could move it if we really wanted to!”


I can still hear the twang in Aunt Corene’s voice when she says “Gosh Bud…y’all live like pigs”


Oh my gosh!!!! One of rather best movies ever!!!! My legs are sweatin’ mama. Classic line!!! Hollywood better not ever try to re-make this movie. I might go postal if they do.

LI Girl
LI Girl

Ok, so I am one of those who has no idea what you’re talking about! I am definitely old enough to remember the movie….just never saw it. I think it’s time for me to check it out. Maybe this weekend as there is a blizzard coming!


Fantastic Movie! I think I’ll watch it this weekend. At least I think I’ve got it on DVD. The soundtrack was epic.

Jen Wasson
Jen Wasson

I LOVE every single thing about this post. My cousin/best friend and I grew up on this movie and say all of these quotes. The other one we say a lot “Y’all live like pigs, Bud”


“Sissy. I’m hardheaded. I’m prideful and I want to apologize clear back to the first time I hit ya”
Got the soundtrack stuck in my head now! I love this post! ❤️

sarah harper

Love. this. movie.
It gets me every time Bud puts Sissy’s personalized license plate back up in the truck window at the end. My favorite line is when Sissy walks up to Bud at Gilley’s and asks “You a real cowboy?” I have to resist the urge to pose that question to any man I see wearing a cowboy hat.
(PS – Your update blog design looks great!)


Love this post! This is one of those movies that if you run across it on a Saturday, I will end up being late to whatever I was supposed to be doing to watch it. My favorite lines are the “apologizing back to when I hit you the first time”, the house on wheels and my legs are sweating. just fabulous! Thank you for acknowledging the greatness in this movie.


Last year, a friend’s parents had a birthday party for her in their fancy Houston high rise apartment. When I stepped out of the private elevator and saw the lights of Houston glittering through the floor to ceiling windows of their living room, I gasped, turned to the husband and two friends standing nearby, and said, “My daddy does oil!! And all that implies!!” And got nothing. It was sad and lonely. So weird that none of their parents thought “Urban Cowboy” was appropriate for a 9 year old.


Ugh! I soooo would’ve had you on that one! You don’t need that negativity in your life!…those that don’t join in the quoting!
And, yes! I was 7 when I first saw it. Took 25 years for me to realize both ladies in his bed! 3some in the 80’s. Maannn…good times!


Bye Pam….still my favorite line


Mine too. Also, “I’m a shit but not that bigga’ shit.”


So glad to find this article! Urban Cowboy has been a part of my life for over 20 years. So many of the classic lines from this film that I remember. Met my husband in a honky tonk, wedding reception there too with two-steppin and cold beer! Great great film! 🙂

Claire Freeman
Claire Freeman

“I’m from SPUR.” haha I grew up loving this movie as well. This movie and “Caddyshack” had me terrified of lightning bolts however. I’ve always been curious if Scott Glenn was nice in real life bc he sure made a terrific villain…

Rick V
Rick V

You broke my goddamn arm!

Hiii Bud!

Don’t tickle me I’ll wet my pants!

She’s still pissed off?

Get in!
Get it!!
No! (pouty lip)

Jesus Christ, I almost hit y’all!

I don’t got no stockings on.

Wes Hightower – let’s see what he can do.

Lookit! He’s playin’ wit’ hisself!

He uses his momma’s hairnet for a shirt.

It’s 50 foot long it’s 12 foot wide it’s got one bedroom every modern convenience. And what’s more you can move it if you want.

Damn those outlaws make good cowboys.


“Who’s that?!”
“My wife!”
“Your wife?!”
“Are you just doing this to make your wife jealous?”
“Well, I love you Bud. But, I don’t love you like that, Bud!”
LOVED your article! You nailed so much of it square on the head! Maaannn..
I was born in 1977, but this is my all time favorite movie. No one will watch it with me though bc I recite every line.
***Sidenote: it took me about 20 years, watching it hundreds of time, before realizing he has a 3some! Both ladies in the bed with that box fan in the single wide!
Thanks for the stroll through memories!