Outlaw Country, Part 3: Songs of the New Frontier
We've talked about the way that the drug culture of the 1960s and 1970s was involved in bringing the Outlaw movement to endorse a fair amount of the cultural rebellion of that era.
But there was a tension within the music, which was more likely than rock-and-roll to see the value of the era that was passing. Above is Willie Nelson and Ray Charles singing a Western-style ballad linked to the earlier time.
There were a lot of songs like that, where the old icons are given again in the terms of the new generation. The old cowboy movies sometimes featured 'girls of the night,' as for example the spirited young lady who played opposite John Wayne in Stagecoach. Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson picked this up and put it into one of the more famous songs of this type.
Waylon Jennings was an outspoken advocate of moving on to new ways of doing things. Too many people were trying to re-live the life of Hank Williams, Sr., and he wanted them to know that he wasn't going to play that game.
But, as Gringo pointed out, it was the same Waylon Jennings who took time to pen this tribute to Bob Wills and the Western Swing movement.
So maybe that's three ways in which the changes that came over country music starting in the late 1960s were different from otherwise similar changes in rock-and-roll. They remained tied to the gospel tradition They remained faithful to the American serviceman. Finally, they retained that supernatural loyalty to the American project -- including icons like the cowboy, the flag, and the ideal of riding free on the new frontier.
By Grim on Friday, July 13, 2012