Cowboy Song: The Authorized Biography of Thin Lizzy’s Philip Lynott | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Saturday, May 18th, 2024  

Graeme Thomson

Cowboy Song: The Authorized Biography of Thin Lizzy’s Philip Lynott

Published by Chicago Review Press

May 23, 2017 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Graeme Thomson has made his name as an author of biographies of artists such as Johnny Cash, Kate Bush, Elvis Costello, and Willie Nelson. His latest tackles the life and career of Thin Lizzy’s Philip Lynott. For a short time in the ‘70s, Thin Lizzy was king, rock and roll heroes of hard-hitting songs like “Jailbreak,” “The Boys Are Back in Town,” and “Johnny,” and Phil Lynott was the band’s charismatic frontman. But behind the big hair and cocky rock star poses was a troubled soul.

Thomson ably covers Lynott’s early musical years, before Thin Lizzy had its big breakout hits, “Whiskey in the Jar” and later “The Boys are Back in Town.” He interviews many of the main players of the time, and adroitly details how Lynott overcame a certain shyness to develop what would become his signature style. The hit-filled years are chronicled as well, but the high times for Lynott and company were short lived.

Cowboy Song benefits from Thomson’s extensive research. He interviews bandmates, associates, and contemporaries, and the literature is combed for Lynott quotes, so the late frontman’s voice is very much present. As such, Cowboy Song reads like a living, breathing biography, not a study in literature review of a dead rock star. Given the band’s (and Lynott’s personal) trajectory, much of the book is a dispiriting tale of rock excess and a talent wasted. For how good Phil Lynott and Thin Lizzy could be, more often the lows eclipsed the highs, and as such Cowboy Song is a sober, somber read. But like the best biographies, it gets to the heart of the man. One feels a connection to Lynott through Cowboy Song. Which makes his untimely demise at the hand of his own excesses all the more depressing. (

Author rating: 7/10

Rate this book
Average reader rating: 1/10


Submit your comment

Name Required

Email Required, will not be published


Remember my personal information
Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

There are no comments for this entry yet.