Take Me Back to My Boots and Saddle

I don't like Westerns much.

All the women characters are barmaids, whores, or delicate intellectuals traveling with a lot of trunks. The men look like bullshit, like they shat beef jerky, and everyone was always riding places on horses, or wagons, or something stupid.

So I don’t like Westerns much, but I like fake Westerns. You know, bullshitty existential Westerns, stuff like El Topo, goofy-ass Cormac McCarthy books, John Hawkes’ novel The Beetle Leg. And Blazing Saddles, of course. And I like bands like the Country Teasers, who manage to pull off this (sometimes) funny, clanky, noisy fake cowboy music.

Put on a Country Teasers records, two things become immediately apparent:

1.) These guys can’t play their instruments, really.
2.) They also didn’t tune their instruments.

And if you give them a few listens, it also becomes apparent that their lyrics are really insulting and offensive and all that. Reminds me a bit of the all-encompassing misanthropy of the Frogs, to tell you the truth. These guys are from Scotland, I assume the lyrical nastiness is, as people from the UK might say, “a piss-take.”

The Country Teasers are pretty clearly influenced by the Fall, and you might be thinking to yourself “Say! He probably likes the Country Teasers because they sound a lot like the Fall!” And you’d be right, but it’s more than that. I like ‘em so much because they’re like Bizarro cowboy music.

They make the sort of cowboy music appropriate if everything in the world had gone horribly wrong, and it was dominated by garbage, ignorance, and discordia. As though no one really knew how anything worked any more, and the world was actually nothing like Western movies, and everything wasn’t going to be all right, and there was no hope, and . . . well, you know. Art imitates life and all that.

Their “Satan is Real Again” album is a real corker.


Garth said...

First off, I think you have Western films all wrong. Maybe it's because you're not actually from the West, the psychology and aesthetic simply don't appeal to you.

The important thing is that you like fake Westerns, which probably better than "real" westerns anyway. Wait a minute. "Real" westerns are made by hollywood schlockmeisters, while "fake" westerns are made by cynical New Yorkers and Europeans. Neither are "authentic" because real cowboys don't make movies. So your fake westerns are just as legitimately western as any movie The Duke ever made.

My favorite fake western, to borrow your terminology, is Dead Man, by Jim Jarmusch. It's by far my favorite of his films. It combines everything that is beautiful about the Western genre: the romance of the outlaw, gorgeous landscapes, villains you love to hate, guns as a source of sorrow and a means of revenge, but then it has this postmodern consciousness of everything that is morally unacceptable in the genre, and doesn't gloss over that. Also, it has Iggy Pop in drag.

Rick said...

We here at The Little Black Egg understand where you're coming from, Garth. We appreciate your input and would like to respond to the points you raise—

•I just don't like Westerns because I'm generally not a fan of boring rural boringness. I don't know if that has to do with me not being from the west, though. I mean, I like avocados and bio-organic burritos and psych music and western stuff like that. I just don't like the self-righteousness of Western flicks.

•Not to get all semanticky, but I see what you're saying and stand by my "real" western definition. It's kind of like how, I dunno . . . like how a Paul Auster book isn't a real detective story, even if it's about a detetictive and is, fundamentally, a story of detection. It's like a fake detective story. I'm not saying one is more legitamate than the other, whatever you wanna call 'em. Also, the screenwriter who did John Wayne's The Searchers was a native New Yorker.

•Dead Man is all right I guess.

Michael said...

I'd just like to say that I love boring rural boringness, and Dead Man is pretty damn great. That's as fer as I'm a-willin' to take my durned Yankee arr-tick-yoo-lay-shun today.