Friday, May 23, 2014

Friday Night Videos

I have to admit I find the cognitive dissonance of Paula Cole's "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone" oddly fascinating. Absolutely nothing about the arrangement, instrumentation or her lyric delivery give any hint of the supposedly rural subject matter of which she sings. But it's the lyrics themselves that get me. I simply cannot decide if Cole is reveling in irony or not, because even though she keeps plaintively asking where all the cowboys have gone, her verses paint a pretty damn true-to-life portrait of what constitutes many historic as well as contemporary "cowboys." Were she from a western state or a member of the Dixie Chicks, sure, it'd be self-aware satire, or at least biting commentary. But Cole hails from Massachusetts and her background is in jazz, so when she pines for John Wayne and the Marlboro Man, I don't know she understands that these are not just a romantic fiction but in fact the exact same thing she bemoans in the verses. The difference is subtle but telling: wishing for a romantic fiction that never existed versus wishing for a gussied-up version of something you already have but do not want. I suppose this is the same reason some women move from one abusive relationship to the next. The moral of this story? Be careful what you wish for, or don't squat with your spurs on. Either one will do.

Previously on Friday Night Videos... Paul Lekakis.

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