The title of this post is part of a famous line in the original “Blues Brothers” movie. The brothers and band were faking their way into a gig in a bar and asked what kind of music they played there. The answer was, “Both kinds; Country AND Western”.
It got a big laugh.
But there IS a difference.
Country music is associated with Appalachia and farms. It is fiddling, mandolining and banjoing and the music is based on 16th- 18th century music of Britain and Ireland. It evolved to Bluegrass and other forms. It is mostly heartache and hardship of the common folk. Think: Hank Williams [“I’m So Lonesome I could Cry”] and The Carter Family [“Can the Circle Be Unbroken”],to Loretta Lynn,[“Coal Miner’s Daughter”] and “Tennessee” Ernie Ford [“16 Tons”] .
Western music stems from cowboys singing for their cattle. They found that the cattle stayed quiet and felt secure when they heard singing and, (believe it or not), when they heard yodeling. The music is simple and guitar based, (with the occasional harmonica), and the lyrics are more nature, horse and gun themed, and only sometimes a little heartbreak. Think: Sons of the Pioneers, [“Tumbling Tumbleweeds”] and Gene Autry [“Back in the Saddle Again”] to Marty Robbins [“Big Iron on His Hip” and “El Paso”].
The reason I am bring this up on this ‘free’ week is that I once again have to complain about writers not doing their homework.
I started to watch a movie earlier this week, but had to turn it off. It is a sequel to a rather good movie, but this one not only fell flat, I found it unnecessarily brutal and vulgar. I will not give it the publicity of giving its name, it’s that bad.
Possibly even worse, though, is the fact that part of it is supposedly based in Kentucky, where definitely most sections which are ‘country’, but not much in Louisville, where part of the movie claimed to be centered.
Louisville is very much a major city, full of diversity. It has always been a major hub and a crossroads via water, rail and trail; it has been for well over 200 years. Even the oldest establishments, building and grand houses were built by emigres who placed value on culture and growth. No backwater/backwoods mentality in the society of that city.
Nor do they make whisky in the city, which the movie claimed. (FYI, “Bourbon” can only be labeled as such if it is distilled in the area where I am, south of Louisville; it’s the ‘Birthplace of Bourbon”. All Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, Heaven Hill and any other brand you can think of is made right here. Stolichnaya is getting into the game and building a distillery about five miles from my house; there is a new one going up from another company even closer.)
Even had the producers/writers not done their homework and portrayed Louisville as a country town, I could almost forgive them, but they portrayed it with a WESTERN feel.
The men all wore cowboy hats, (even in the small towns and farms it is unlikely that you will see such of those as headwear; ball caps are de rigeure, though). The the men also rode horses! The only place you will see men riding horses in the city of Louisville is at Churchill Downs. The “Kentuckians” in the movie spoke like Texans in phraseology and accent; it was nerve-wracking to me. Lexington is horse-country here and even there you are more apt now to hear accents that are more like Armagh than Amarillo, Dubai than Dallas, Juarez than Waco.
When my sister was very little, she loved cowboys. She loved to watch them on TV, (she adored Hopalong Cassidy’s sidekick, “Lucky”. She was less than three years old and she couldn’t pronounce her ‘Ls’; his name came out “Yucky”). She talked about cowboys, she wanted to hear stories about cowboys, she wanted cowboy boots and a cowboy hat. Not only did my parents indulge her, (she was the first child), my childless aunt and uncle lived next door and they also indulged her. My mother and my aunt grew up as second generation Italians in immigrant neighborhoods in northeastern Pennsylvania, so, unlike the writers of the movie, they can be forgiven for not knowing the difference between ‘country’ and ‘western’.
They took my sister to see Grandpa Jones and his musicians, however, my sister wiggled and squirmed and wanted to leave. “Don’t you want to see the cowboys sing?”, my mother whispered to her while “Grandpa” performed. My sister yelled, “They’re not cowboys! They’re hiwwbiwwies!” (hillbillies). My mother and aunt nearly died of embarrassment, since they had taken the child right to the front so that she could see the people playing well.
However, the child was right.
She was more right than the people who put together the stupid movie which I turned off halfway through.
Can you see my point? Writers for major motion picture studios should know better. If they don’t, there are people on staff who are ‘continuity experts’, who are supposed to check on these matters.
No one pays attention.
And just before Christmas my husband and I watched a number of old holiday shows. On one Bob Hope Christmas Special Jill St.John was doing a skit with Bob comparing him with her other leading men. She said that Sean Connery was Welsh. I was appalled.
She had done a James Bond with the man. She didn’t pay attention, the writers didn’t pay attention.
However, I am sure all of you who write do your research and pay attention.
(I bet YOU know Connery’s nationality.)
2017 can sing “Goodbye, Old Paint, I’m a-Leavin’ Cheyenne” to us…no, wait, I’m not out west anymore, I’m in Kentucky…
I wish all of you a wonderful, safe, frustration-less and healthy New Year!