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The Old Cowboy Picture Show
Singing In The Saddle ain had baby boomers too and they also Horwitz was not interested in being an
by Douglas B. Green (2002, Vanderbilt loved the American west. archivist, journalistic writing is his
University Press and the Country Music Horwitz had grown disillusioned with a strength and in that he is accomplished. post Vietnam and post Watergate America The paragraph that opens this essay is from
Foundation Press) and longed for the simpler times of his his book.
Music revived the western in the 1930s youth. It’s hard to lose one’s heroes and There you have it. I suppose I could
and added much to its mystique. “Singing Horwitz seemed to know he was trying to have easily done a top twenty list, there are
In The Saddle” is a through study and lasso ghosts. In his journey across the many books that came within firing dis-
wonderful celebration of western movie country to find the remaining B-western tance. So, in that spirit I’m glad to con-
music. It’s masterfully researched and pro- heroes and see how they’d survived, he tinue and also tip my stetson to authors
duced. A first-class job. In a word, “rich.” learned some valuable life lessons having whose efforts deserve to be acknowledged
The kind of book others could be measured to do with fate, luck, and character. At the even if briefly.
by. As the lead singer of the group Riders end of his quest he retained a hero or two. “Shoot-Em-Ups” by Les Adams and
in the Sky and a crackerjack composer in He also seems to have grown the hell up. Buck Rainey is a complete reference guide
his own right, Green knows of what he If one assumes B-westerns will get the to the westerns of the sound era. It is an
speaks. His vocation has turned him into a usual, formal, objective type treatment invaluable resource for the serious B-
first rate scholar and archivist. In another here, forget it. Horwitz did not pull his western aficionado needing to track down
word, an “expert.” As with every author, punches. Expect a very frank, even sarcas- a film, no matter how obscure. Adams and
Green owes a great deal to his posse of tic tone, including language that will right- Rainey had to throw the widest lasso possi-
talented researchers, still, he was the trail fully offend the more sensitive. While one ble but it sure landed dead on. It must have
boss out in front guiding the herd. The might be a little startled by the take-no- been a monumental task to pull this tele-
result is a book of scope and depth that’s prisoners approach, “They Went Thata- phone book sized project together. Revised
remarkable. Yippy ti yay! way” is a fascinating ride. He obviously and updated editions have also been pub-
respected and had great affection for the lished. If the depth and scope of a book
They Went Thataway genre and its players. I personally believe can be measured, “Shoot-Em-Ups” is the
by James Horwitz (1976 - Ballantine) he went too far with Roy Rogers perhaps Grand Canyon.
due to the fact the King of the Cowboy did Accumulated books by Bobby Cope-
With its irreverent tone it stands alone as not make himself available for an inter- land, David Rothel, Gene Blottner, Boyd
the only one of its kind, outlaw journalism view. Still, Horwitz’s writing style is vivid Magers and Bob Nareau are noteworthy.
takes on the B-western. It is probably my and his insights are on the money. He also Copeland has proved himself a tireless
most controversial choice. I was first made presented a very well informed historical archivist and keeper of the faith. His ever
aware of it in Rolling Stone magazine, not overview of the B-western genre as the growing string of books are loaded with
exactly The Saturday Evening Post. Sing- context for his subject. interesting information. “Johnny Mack
ing cowboys were the rock stars of their Brown - Up Close and Personal” is his
day. Ringo Starr’s well-known devotion to most accomplished. Copeland even cov-
Gene Autry and Keith Richard’s admira- ered the lives of bad guys Roy Barcroft
tion of Roy Rogers make sense. Great Brit- and Charlie King. Rothel was one of the first to document B-western cowboys indi-
vidually. His book “Who Was That
Masked Man” is my favorite, the introduc-
tion is particularly heartfelt. “An Ambush
of Ghosts - A Personal Guide to Favorite
Western Film Locations” is also out-
standing. Blottner’s recent book “Wild Bill
Elliott - A Complete Filmography” is mas-
terfully researched. Elliott was the genuine
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