Chris LeDoux

My Take Tuesday: Chris LeDoux

Wednesday, March 9, 2005 was a typical day. During this stage of my life, I was finishing up coursework and getting ready to graduate from Southern Utah University. My classes ended at noon and I found myself with some time free in the afternoon and decided to go shopping for a new chest of drawers. 

I jumped in my Chevy S-10 and headed south on Main Street in Cedar City, Utah.  I noticed remnants of a recent snowstorm lingered on either side of the road piled up along the sidewalks. Per usual, I listened to KONY country when driving around town. A Chris LeDoux song came over the waves. Instinctively, I cranked up the volume and listened to the tune. As the song ended a second Chris LeDoux song began to play. Hearing a Chris LeDoux song on the radio is not an everyday occurrence. A radio station playing two songs in a row was unheard of. My heart sank. I knew something had happened. As the second song finished, the DJ announced that earlier in the day, Chris LeDoux had lost his battle to a rare form of cancer called cholangiocarcinoma.  

Chris was a man’s man. Anything he did, he did well. He wasn’t born with extraordinary talent, but with hard work and dedication he became extraordinary.  He was an award-winning sculpture, a world champion bareback rider and a world-class country music musician. Chris worked hard at everything he did.

Chris’ music was a constancy during my youth. When I was working on the farm, I often would listen to his songs. One song talked about digging and tamping postholes and stretching the wires tight. Another detailed the intricacies of irrigating alfalfa. His lyrics seemed to represent a lot of what I knew in life. Still to this day, as I’ve had the opportunity to travel, I often find lyrics that mention the cities and places that I visit from Spokane to Manhattan, Salt Lake to Seattle, up north from Billings to the Yukon River and down south from Fort Worth to San Antonio.

I had the opportunity to see Chris perform dozens of times in concert. He was such a gentleman and the best performer I have ever seen. Today marks 18 years since his passing. 

In his last studio album, Chris recorded a song called The Ride. The lyrics describe facing death with dignity and grace. They say, 

“Well, I know some day farther down the road

I’ll come to the edge of the great unknown

There’ll stand a black horse riderless

And I wonder if I’m ready for this

So, I’ll saddle him up and he’ll switch his tail

And I’ll tip my hat and bid farewell

And lift my song into the air

That I learned at that dusty fair

Sit tall in the saddle, Hold your head up high

Keep your eyes fixed where the trail meets the sky

And live like you ain’t afraid to die

And don’t be scared, just enjoy your ride”

Thanks, Chris, for living a great life and for teaching this cipher from Castle Dale, UT so many lessons about life through your determination, example and lyrics. Good ride cowboy! Good ride!

And that is my take!

N. Isaac Bott, DVM

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