Friday, 20 August 2010

John Wayne

I have had a long conversation with a friend today on the subject of film stars of old and how they don’t make them like they used to. No Jimmy Stewart's, no Yul Bryner's, no Garbo, no Betty Davies and no Errol Flynn. How John Wayne and his films possibly couldn’t be made in this day and age. The Quiet Man, easily one of the greatest films ever made, would not have got past the script stage I will wager.
What does this have to do with music Peter? I am coming to that. John Wayne, that glorious all American god of epic proportions, thats who I am celebrating today in song, verse and lyric.

John Wayne was born with a girls name, like Sue I guess you learn to either fight or get beaten. John Wayne oozed masculinity and maybe that's why. I don't know. Seemingly he also had very VERY Conservative politics. Unapologetic concerning his views on race and homosexuals, today he would be laughed at. As he said in She Wore A Yellow Ribbon, "Don't apologize—it's a sign of weakness."

John Wayne died in 1979 and his death at least in our household was every bit as important as John Lennon or Marty Robbins and time and again I find myself going back to True Grit or The Cowboys.

In 1982, Hardcore Punk band MDC released their debut album, Millions of Dead Cops, on it was the track John Wayne Was A Nazi.

John Wayne Was A Nazi by MDC

Its not an opinion they were alone in sharing and this release had some influence on Mike Burkett of NOFX and the song and the band get a mention on their song 13 Stitches from War On Errorism.

“The next time I went to the whiskey,
It was DOA with millions of Dead Cops.
The latter band played faster than I could believe,
But the Songs sounded the same and kinda sucked.
'Cept John Wayne was a nazi,
And Joey Shithead was a drunk.
Then John Macias beat some hippie to a pulp,
Cuz Having long hair was a mistake.”
- 13 Stitches by NOFX

13 Stitches by NOFX

1982 at least in song was the year that John Wayne was getting name checked as Haysi Fantayzee released their debut single “John Wayne is Big Leggy.” Naivety saw me thinking this was a rude song but no, again its a critique of Waynes apparent racism. 1982 and the kids are pissed off. Maybe True Grit was repeated a little too often.

John Wayne Is Big Leggy by Haysi Fantayzee

"Any man who'd make an X-rated movie ought to have to take his daughter to see it." John Wayne.

In 1973 The Duke released an album in the shadow of Watergate entitled, America, Why I Love Her. Its an odd spoken word album, but hell you have to love the mans unbridled patriotism. As someone that loves Johnny Cash’s Ragged Old Flag, its another at times that sounds like “Barts People” but as it’s John Wayne, criticise it? The hell I will.

America, Why I Love Her by John Wayne.

Billy Idol celebrated Marion Morrison in his song John Wayne and stepped back from the name calling, Billy wanted to feel like John Wayne, cos John Wayne was brave. Psst Billy, he was playing a character.

John Wayne by Billy Idol

Celebrated in song, loved and hated in equal measures John Wayne was a childhood icon as important as Evel Knievel or The animal Kwackers. The only difference with that is The Animal Kwackers never said;

“I believe in white supremacy until blacks are educated to a point of responsibility. I don't believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and judgment to irresponsible people.... The academic community has developed certain tests that determine whether the blacks are sufficiently equipped scholastically.... I don't feel guilty about the fact that five or ten generations ago these people were slaves. Now I'm not condoning slavery. It's just a fact of life, like the kid who gets infantile paralysis and can't play football like the rest of us.”

Sometimes John Wayne was a bit of an idiot.



  2. I have a vague memory of you not liking him at all, am I mistaken?