Beyoncé Considers ‘Cowboy Carter’ “The Best Music I’ve Ever Made”

Interestingly, the 27-track album was supposed to come out before ‘Renaissance,’ but was delayed for a very specific reason.

Beyonce wears all denim ahead of 'Cowboy Carter' release date
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We’re not sure if you’ve heard, but Beyoncé released an album today? Cowboy Carter, we think it’s called? All jokes aside—it’s finally here, and it could have actually been here a whole lot sooner, apparently.

Variety reports that Beyoncé initially planned to release Cowboy Carter before Renaissance (Cowboy Carter is Act II, while Renaissance is Act I of her rumored trilogy), but “there was too much heaviness in the world,” she said, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic. “We wanted to dance. We deserved to dance. But I had to trust God’s timing.” 

She added “This album took over five years. It’s been really great to have the time and the grace to be able to take my time with it.” 

Beyonce stands in front of a wall with a double denim set

The masterpiece has arrived. It is called "Cowboy Carter."

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Queen Bey—who truly earned the “Queen” moniker, yet again, with her new album’s release—rarely makes public statements, but revealed that each song on the 27-track Cowboy Carter is actually inspired by a different Western film. She often had the films playing during the recording process and named six in particular as source material: Five Fingers for Marseilles, Urban Cowboy, The Hateful Eight, Space Cowboys, The Harder They Fall, and Killers of the Flower Moon. Some bits of percussion were also inspired by the soundtrack for O Brother, Where Art Thou?, she said.

“My process is that I typically have to experiment,” she said. “I enjoy being open to have the freedom to get all aspects of things I love out and so I worked on many songs. I recorded probably 100 songs. Once that is done, I am able to put the puzzle together and realize the consistencies and the common themes, and then create a solid body of work.”

Beyonce stands in front of a plain backdrop wearing a suit and a cowboy hat

The 27-track album has been in the works for over five years.

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The album, an homage to country, blues, and Black folk, is filled with what Beyoncé called “real instrumentation” including the accordion, washboard, and pedal steel guitar; she also pointed out that she used her nails as percussion, much like Dolly Parton did on “9 to 5.” (We also know you’ve heard that Patron makes a guest appearance on the record.)

“All the sounds were so organic and human, everyday things like the wind, snaps, and even the sound of birds and chickens, the sounds of nature,” Beyoncé said.

The character of “Cowboy Carter” was inspired by the “original Black cowboys of the American West,” and she noted that the term “cowboy” was used to belittle former slaves as boys. “Cowboy Carter” was created to negate the connotation and highlight “the strength and resiliency of these men who were the true definition of Western fortitude,” she said.

Contributors on Cowboy Carter are extensive and filled with boldfaced names: the aforementioned Parton, Willie Nelson, Linda Martell, Stevie Wonder, Chuck Berry, Miley Cyrus, Post Malone, Jon Batiste, Rhiannon Giddens, Nile Rogers, Robert Randolph, Gary Clark Jr., Willie Jones, Brittney Spencer, Shaboozey, Reyna Roberts, Tanner Adell, and Tiera Kennedy all were a part of the album. And, though credits were not included in the album’s release rollout, she also worked with The Dream, Pharrell Williams, Ryan Tedder, Swizz Beats, and many others, including her husband, Jay-Z.

Beyoncé considers Cowboy Carter her finest work: “I think people are going to be surprised because I don’t think this music is what everyone expects,” she said. “But it’s the best music I’ve ever made.” 

Rachel Burchfield
Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.