Cowboy Songs

Cowboy Songs:

Having spent most of the day with a bunch of horses, it's on my mind; and this one particularly, because I caught the wife humming it to her Tennessee Walker as she was coming back from the trail. This is the original version, a majestic piece by Dimitri Tiomkin. The song is called "Settle Down," from the movie Red River.

But of course, that wasn't the version of the tune she was singing. It's better known in this form:

The pieces are the same tune, but the effect is not at all the same. The first, and older, is sung in the fashion of a chorus of angels looking down on men working and dying; or in the fashion of the valkyrie, singing while they weave the fates. The chorus is not the actor; rather, apart, they sing to enrich and ennoble the action.

The second is the voice of a man, echoing the divine song in a single and more personal voice. He sings of the concerns of a man, of work and love and the ride home. He is the actor in the scene, not an observer, but a man with his own perspective.

Could a man hear, imperfectly, the songs of angels or valkyrie? Would he feel called to reproduce some poorer version of their song in his own voice, in the same tune even if from a more limited perspective?

Do we do that in life, as we do it in art?

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