Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Folk Music and Cowboys and How Did We Get From There To Here?

Here's another view of GLJ explaining the nature of sound to the Minneapolis Police Department on Lake Street. Back in those days there was an objection to live music at the Uptown Art Fair...businesses and artists believed that it hampered the entrepreneurial activities of the event...hard to believe such a thing now when people don't know they're having fun unless they're being bombarded by decibels.
May I digress? The cowboy on the left is a-hankerin' to slip his hand over to the blunderbuss on his hip. And me there holding my lethal guitar.
It reminds me of an episode that occurred when I was 4. I met a real-life cowboy who was working for Billy Graham...rustlin' up some souls. His name was Redd Harper. The BG film company had made a movie about the guy and Redd himself made an appearance at a showing that I attended. Four year old me sashayed up to the varmint and asked, "Where's yer gun?" He looked around, grabbed a Bible and waved it in my face. "Why it's right here, ya little sidewinder!" I stumbled away from the ravine, confused, disappointed, and eager to get back to my Lone Ranger/Rifleman/Wyatt Earp on TV.
(The moral of the story: They were indoctrinating us 'merican children already in those days via TV and movies and radio...convincing us that the only real convincer was a piece of weaponry. It's buried deeply and subtly in our culture. Clayton Moore as The Lone Ranger had his two six-shooters and those silver bullets. Chuck Connors as The Rifleman had that tricked out Winchester. Hugh O'Brien as Wyatt Earp had the strangely hyper-extended revolver. Doc Holliday had a big mustache and a double-barrelled shotgun that could take down the side of a building. Steve McQueen as Josh Randall, and Nick Adams as Johnny Yuma, had their curiously sexy sawed-off shotguns. Johnny could spin his around his finger in a fun way. I used to think that these were all nothing more than painfully obvious phallic symbols. Now I realize that they are also simply and blatantly intended to implant a subconscious love for guns. )
The pivotal point of my recollection is not Redd’s response…which was quite predictable for a missionary evangelist.
No, it hinges on the question that preoccupied my undeveloped four-year-old mind. I didn’t stride down the noonday street with the sun glinting in my eyes and ask the imposing rounder “Where’s your horse?” or “Can I see your guitar?” or “Do you eat your campfire beans right out of the can or off a tin plate?” or “Does it hurt the cows when you brand them?”
Firearms were nonexistent in my household—not even a hunter in the family—but I was programmed to think about smoke-wagons. “Where’s your gun?”

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