A Solitary Theme Song from a Twenty-First Century Western

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Abstract

Among the features of Appaloosa (Ed Harris, 2008) one element that we might be surprised to find in a twenty-first-century Western is a theme song. "You'll Never Leave My Heart," co written and performed by Ed Harris, the film's director and star, invites comparisons to the Western title songs that came to prominence in the 1950s. Harris's song includes a number of elements reminiscent of theme songs from 1950s Westerns to the point of view and emotional register of it's lyrics and in the style of Harris's singing. the song also departs form this apparent model in several ways, most significantly in it's placement within the movie as a whole. This chapter will thus examine Appaloosa's use of a once-prevalent convention in a revived and modified form. Comparing the song to examples form 1950s Westerns such as High Noon (Fred Zinnemann, 1952) and Johnny Guitar (Nicholas Ray, 1954), I will consider changing expectations concerning the style and content of westerns in different periods. Comparing how generic conventions are used in different historical contexts can illuminate both the conventions themselves and the conditions in which the operate.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCritical Perspectives on the Western
Subtitle of host publicationFrom A Fistful of Dollars to Django Unchained
EditorsLee Broughton
Place of PublicationLanham
PublisherRowman & Littlefield
Pages121-135
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781442272439
ISBN (Print)9781442272422
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2016

Keywords

  • Western
  • Genre
  • Film Music
  • Popular Music
  • Retrospection
  • Hollywood Cinema
  • Contemporary Cinema

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