Wild Country: Take the Cowboy Bowling
by Max Sparber
As a native of Minneapolis, I share my city's odd relationship with the sport of bowling. Minneapolitans have always been passionate bowlers, but we've also treated the activity as something vaguely comical, and approached it with something like irony.
I used to read a zine called "Baby Split Bowling News," which claimed to be published by an organization called Deviant Bowlers of America, and was really a punk zine, but actually offered bowling advice. There was RABL, a political organization also known as the Revolutionary Anarchist Bowling League, which gained fame for throwing a bowling ball through the window of a military recruitment center as part of a protest in 1988.
Of course, the Coen Brothers used bowling as a jumping off point for their Los Angeles fringe noir comedy "The Big Lebowski." Later, a locally produced satire of "Cowling for Dollars" called "Let's Bowl" went national for a year when it was picked up by Comedy Central. That one I feel the greatest affinity for, as I was a part of it: I was a frequent extra.
Country music shares the same ironic affection for bowling as the average Minneapolitan, and so, in that spirit, here is a list of country songs that have addressed themselves, in whole or in part, to spares, gutter balls, and splits.