Monday, October 08, 2007

Lots of comments on our "Anti-Cowboy Poets" poem

I've received several comments about the poem from "ShelterBelt Slim" both from people who haven't seen his missive and some who have. Everyone seems to agree with me that the message is acceptable but the language used is unnecessary. So far, I have only posted the longer and more lucid responses.

I have at least four responses that all basically say: "He's hit the nail on the head" so it's becoming apparent that many of us are a little disgusted with the current crop of performers who really don't seem to fit the "Cowboy" mold. Actually, I have gotten a couple of these quick "He's right" responses from people whom I would classify as "Californicators" themselves!

In a way, I sometimes feel the same way about our genre. It often seems that some of the more prominent performers have never had the "pleasure" of doing real ranch work and wouldn't know how. But, when I examine that opinion, I realize that I have addressed this issue before.

The National Cowboy Poetry Gathering is my main example. Although their "rules" for being invited to the main stage specifically mention a cowboy/ranching background, we all know that some of their most popular performers have had nothing to do with ranching or being cowboys. Some are school teachers; some are from back east someplace where all they can do is dream of a romanicized western life. My response to this has always been: not that the rule should be more strictly enforced but that the rule is not acceptable in the first place. Would Roy Rogers or Gene Autry make the Western Folklife Center's grade? Probably not, if the cowboy/rancher rule is actually enforced.

So, my personal opinion is that the background or lifes experience of a Western Entertainer is not as important as the quality of their performance. If someone is a good writer and has produced good songs or poems portraying the Western or Cowboy lifestyle, then I will listen to and enjoy their material without regard to where they come from or how they made their living.

As to Shelterbelt Slim's rhyming rant, the most telling point I can see is that although I have had many responses to my post here, none are from the author. Apparently, his concept of Cowboy culture doesn't include the courage to stand up for his convictions. Pity.

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