Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Cowboys in Suburbia

Off the top of my head, I can think of 3 words that would make me flee-

1) Fire!
2) Bomb!
3) Rodeo!

And rodeo it was last weekend. As much as I wanted to run away, I stubbornly stayed put, because having wasted that much money on admission, overpriced toxic food and carnival games, I was damn well going to see more than sheep and goats looking bored in barns (note to self: do not wear sandals to these events, hence the squishy stuff on the bottom of them).

We didn't last more than 15 minutes into the rodeo. When it comes to cowboys, I've discovered I'm not the only one with this aversion, at the very least, people don't seem to like hearing songs about them. Dave Soldier composed "The Most Unwanted Song" based on a poll of over 500 Americans. He concluded:

The most unwanted music is over 25 minutes long, veers wildly between loud and quiet sections, between fast and slow tempos, and features timbres of extremely high and low pitch, with each dichotomy presented in abrupt transition. The most unwanted orchestra was determined to be large, and features the accordion and bagpipe (which tie at 13% as the most unwanted instrument), banjo, flute, tuba, harp, organ, synthesizer (the only instrument that appears in both the most wanted and most unwanted ensembles). An operatic soprano raps and sings atonal music, advertising jingles, political slogans, and "elevator" music, and a children's choir sings jingles and holiday songs. The most unwanted subjects for lyrics are cowboys and holidays, and the most unwanted listening circumstances are involuntary exposure to commercials and elevator music. Therefore, it can be shown that if there is no covariance—someone who dislikes bagpipes is as likely to hate elevator music as someone who despises the organ, for example—fewer than 200 individuals of the world's total population would enjoy this piece.

I challenge you to listen to it here. It won't be on any of my playlists but I appreciate the concept, absurd and ridiculous, words I relish.

If the world doesn't like cowboy lyrics, they must like cowboy photography. This photograph by Richard Prince sold for $1,280,000.

This print is "re-photography", appropriated from the Marlboro Man advertising. It's not so much about cowboys as it about pop culture and iconic images in American culture.

Now that you've had your fill of Cowboy conceptual art, I reckon this little lady better git herself some shut eye. I'm plum tuckered out. Before I do, if you want to insult some one in Old West slang, you can find what you need here. I think my favorite is, "His mustache smelled like a mildewed saddle blanket after it had been rid on a soreback hoss three hundred miles in August". Having been away from the internet for a while, I realize after coming back, I've gone a little crazy web surfing. I'm pretty sure I'll never look for another cowboy related link again. Later partner...


self taught artist said...

i will have to listen to the diddy later, but your post made me laugh. i'm trying not to scream about how much that art went for!!!

katie jane said...

I'm with you on the cowboy stuff, although cowboy/country music, I'm sorry to say, is very popular here in the Midwest.
My husband, however, loves the Old West "singing cowboy"-type music. Marty Robbins, Roy Rogers, etc.
I've only been to one rodeo, indoors, and although I stayed for the whole thing, will never do another.

Thank you for your visit to my blog. The glass vase on the mantle that intrigued you was not made by me. My husband bought that and a cobalt blue one for me from a gallery downtown Cincy a few years back. If you are interested in seeing it, look at my post on Thursday, April 10th.

andrea said...

Shhh. I have secret western fantasies, which I would never reveal to my cowboy-loathing nearest and dearest. I wantt the boots, the hat, the horse, the steel guitar. Keep it under your ten-gallon hat.

andrea said...

PS I heart Johnny Cash.

dinahmow said...

Chez nous, that-thar mewz-ik is known as shit-kickin' music.
Horses - noble animals. And chaps who wear chaps and herd cattle in the bush/prairies probably leave less of a carbon footprint than the chaps who do it in helicopters.
But, please, chaps, don't come a-yodelling within earshot of me.

PS Should we hold a prayer vigil or an intervention for Andrea?

Your wv is kickpuez. True!

Ellen said...

paula: actually, don't listen to the diddy later, at least no more than 3 minutes of it or you'll feel like you have razor blades rattling in your head and your brain will explode, it almost happened to me.

Katie: Country western music is popular here too. I noticed the poll referred to just lyrics. So listening to country/western music about gettin' drunk and losin' your woman is 'wanted' but any music ABOUT COWBOYS gettin' drunk and losin' their woman is 'Unwanted'...I know...whatever:)

Andrea: Ha, no secret to me my dear. I noticed that new saddle bag you carry around (which I really like BTW). And my nearest and dearest LOVES Johnny Cash. After watching "Walk the Line" he had to blast ALL his Johnny Cash CDs all night (and I'll come clean, I sort of like him too...)

Ellen said...

Dinah: "Andrea, will you please accept this gift of help offered to you today..." Too late for her and she's off to Calgary! s-e-r-i-o-u-s cowboy country. Actually, thanks to my daughter, the horse rider, I've grown to like horses, but not using them to hog tie calves for sport, uh-uh, not for me. (but I eat meat so I'm a big hypocrite.)

patricia said...

What a great post! I've been away far too long, little lady.

Cowboy stuff makes my eyes glaze over for sure. I know I wouldn't be able to survive a rodeo. My husband loves Westerns, and I can't stand most of 'em. Though I am rather partial to 'The Man Who Shot Liberty Vallance' and 'Cat Ballou'.

I didn't listen to very much of that music, but actually, heh heh...I didn't mind the cowpoke stuff. And I definitely heart Johnny Cash! Probably because my mom played his music a lot on our old Hammond Organ(!) when I was a kid...

Ellen said...

Patricia: welcome back! your mom played Johnny cash on a organ growing up? love it, that's so 70's. Remember all the organ players demoing at the Burlington mall almost every weekend?