A little more than one week ago, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings were reeling from the news that they’d received their first Oscar nomination for Best Original Song. Now, the singer-songwriters have been confirmed to perform “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” during the 2019 Academy Awards broadcast on Sunday, February 24th.
Time to update your Songs That Will Be Performed On This Year’s Oscars Playlist: We're excited to welcome @GillianWelch and David Rawlings to the #Oscars stage to sing "When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” from "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs."
— The Academy (@TheAcademy) February 1, 2019
The song, which was composed by Welch and Rawlings for the Coen Brothers’ Western film The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, marks the demise of the gunslinging title character, played by Tim Blake Nelson. Holding the faster gun in their deadly shootout is “The Kid,” portrayed by former Old Crow Medicine Show member Willie Watson. The characters perform the yodel-heavy “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” as a duet, one of them singing from the afterlife as his spirit leaves his body.
“Yodeling was not a mandatory part of the song,” Welch told Rolling Stone about their meetings with Joel Coen. “I think he was really happy that he was going to get a bunch of ‘yippee-ki-yi-yay.'”
“When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” will face some tough competition in the Best Original Song category, all of which will be performed on the show. Other entrants include Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando, Andrew Wyatt and Benjamin Rice’s “Shallow” from A Star Is Born, Kendrick Lamar and SZA’s “All the Stars” from Black Panther, Diane Warren’s “I’ll Fight” (performed by Jennifer Hudson) from RBG and Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman’s “The Place Where Lost Things Go” from Mary Poppins Returns.
The 91st Academy Awards will air live Sunday, February 24th at 8 p.m. on ABC.