Book Review: Cowboy Song: The Authorized Biography of Thin Lizzy's Philip Lynott

Graeme Thomson

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

Phil Lynott (1949-1986) embodied contradiction. As portrayed in Cowboy Song, Irish journalist Graeme Thomson's account of his life, Thin Lizzy himself was a family man enamored of behavioral rock star cliches, a studio disciplinarian given to gross personal excess, and a generous but intensely private spirit plagued by narcissism and self-doubt. Born in England of an Irish mother and a Guyanese father, the self-described "Half Caste" relocated to Dublin at 4 and steeped himself in the country's legends, laying the foundation for his early songs. "The Boys Are Back in Town"-only disciples are introduced to the Emerald Isle mythology permeating the blues-to-metal UK combo, though by Lizzy's prime that core had been mostly excised for barrel-chested rock & roll doctrine and lovelorn laments. This more conventional approach and a strong dedication to craft deposited the group on charts worldwide and the permanent enshrinement of "Jailbreak," "Cowboy Song," and others in the music pantheon. It also touched off a precipitous decline. In the author's hands, Lynott's post-Live and Dangerous life and career culminated in a descent so sharp that it's painful to read. Drawing on hundreds of original and researched interviews, Thomson pulls no punches, as Lynott's family, friends, bandmates, and fans weigh in with equal parts love and grief on this complicated, maddening, beautiful man.

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

by Graeme Thomson
Chicago Review Press, 362 pp., $17.99

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Phil Lynott, Thin Lizzy

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