One-act play with music written by Patti Smith & Sam Shepard.

The scene opens in a run-down motel room, after one too many mornings. The floor is strewn with miscellaneous debris: hubcaps, raggedy costumes, an old .45, rum, beer, and white lighting. Cavale, "a chick who looks like a crow, is a partly crippled, former mental patient. She has kidnapped Slim, "a cat who looks like a coyote", from his wife and child, but they have fallen in love. To Cavale, rock and roll is religion and her one dream is to find a man who can turn into a rock and roll savior - a Jesus with a cowboy mouth. Slim, volatile and unfulfilled, once dreamt of being a rock and roll star but had given up on the idea. Until now.

The two characters play out their increasingly bizarre fantasies, unable to deal with their hopeless reality, culminating in the arrival of The Lobsterman, a drug-crazed hallucination, or a humble restaurant deliveryman, who visits the couple in their crazed love nest.


Cowboy Mouth is a surreal, poetic piece dreamt up by Shepard and Smith in a war of words that lasted for two nights. Every reference in the play is infused with the true character of these two icons and the dynamic of their volatile love affair. Their performance on April 29, 1971 at the American Place Theater is shrouded in mystery and intrigue, with Shepard presenting a double bill of his plays: Back Bog Beast Bait, starring his wife O-Lan, followed by Cowboy Mouth with Smith. According to his friends, it was "one of the wildest autobiographies he ever produced and one of the most exciting performances they'd ever seen." However, on the third night, unable to cope with the goldfish effect of playing out his reality on stage, Shepard vanished, forcing the show to close.


Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh on April 12, 1971. Directed by Gordon Stewart
American Place Theater on April 29, 1971. Directed by Robert Glaudini. Starring Sam Shepard and Patti Smith.
King's Head Theatre in London in July 1972

Patti Smith

"We did this play at American Place Theater - 'Cowboy Mouth'. That was my title. I took it from Bob Dylan's 'Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands.' It was just a play between us. We had lots of alchemy, because we had written the play, we were sayin' our own lines. Lots of light comin' out of that stage. We were only trying to talk about two people that were destined -- two big dreamers who came together but were destined to come to a sad end. It was the true story of Sam and I. We knew we couldn't stay together. He was going to go back to his wife and children, and I was gonna go on my way."

Mad Dog Blues and Other Plays; Fool for Love and Other Plays.