Open Wide And Say Yee-Haw! Dentist Goes West In Song

Feb 25, 2012
Originally published on February 29, 2012 11:20 am

"I'm living the dream." Just hearing the phrase is probably enough to make you roll your eyes and groan. Yet Montana songwriter D.W. Groethe knows someone who, years ago, managed to do just that.

"He was my dentist," Groethe says.

No joke. In fact, Groethe wrote a song in honor of the man who at one time cleaned his teeth.

"So I'm in his office one day, and I'd known him for years," Groethe says. "And he goes, 'Dave, you're going to have to find another dentist. I've sold my practice.' And I've got my mouth full of stuff, so I'm goin' [makes sound like his mouth is full of tubes] — you know, that kind of thing. And I said, 'What?' finally. 'What are you going to do?'

"And he stopped and, with a straight look in my face, he says, 'My whole life, all I've wanted to be is a cowboy.'

"And then, a few years after that, I went down to Medora to the Dakota Cowboy Poetry Gathering. And here comes George walking up — he's got a big old cowboy hat on, the whole works like that. And I went to myself, 'You know, he actually did it!' He sold her out, moved down south of Baker, Mont. He bought an outfit down there, and started raising longhorns and taking care of the horses and everything else they have down there. I mean, he was a cowboy. And he's never been happier.

"A few years back, I was reading a little article in the regional section in the paper. And there's this little headline — it says, 'Medora Man Has North Dakota's Largest Herd of Longhorns.' And, by God, if he didn't. I just laughed when I read this article. And it was within probably that evening, and if not that evening it was certainly by the next evening, I'd written that song."

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Now, in much the same way Alexander was inspired by Simon Norton's ability to live on his own terms, Montana songwriter D.W. Groethe was moved by a friend who years ago, gave up a successful career to follow a dream.

D.W. GROETHE: He was my dentist.

MARTIN: Groethe wrote a song about his former dentist. We hear more in this installment of "What's in a Song?"

(SOUNDBITE OF A SONG, "ONE FOR THE WORKING COWBOY")

(SOUNDBITE OF A SONG, "ONE FOR THE WORKING COWBOY")

(SOUNDBITE OF A SONG, "ONE FOR THE WORKING COWBOY")

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTIN: "What's in a Song?" is produced by Hal Cannon and Taki Telonidis, of the Western Folklife Center. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.