a love letter to westerns

For several years, I had an unshakeable (or so I thought) and unexplainable aversion to westerns – books, movies, whatever.  It may have been because my younger brother, Noah, was obsessed with cowboys when he was six or seven and so I thought that westerns were more for little boys.  Kind of makes sense, but I still don’t remember ever coming up with a good, solid explanation for why I disliked tales of the Old West.  Until one fateful day in February 2015… *cue dramatic music*

…when I watched The Magnificent Seven.  Even though I couldn’t hear the dialogue very well because our TV didn’t have a good sound system, I drank in every word, every awesome character, every great scene, and every note of that splendid music. (It’s one of those movies that I wish I could go back and watch for the first time all over again.)  In the next couple of weeks, I believe I showed it to every family member who wasn’t there when I watched it the first time and, all told, I’ve watched it seven or eight times to date (and I’m sure that number will continue to grow).

From then on, I adored westerns and I watched as many of the classics as I could get my hands on.  I was still leery about western fiction, though, because from the few bits of Christian western fiction I’d read, I figured any book in the genre would be a pile of worn out clichés.  But THEN I read some of Louis L’Amour’s short stories…and read them…and read them…and read them.  After branching out into True Grit and Shane (and a couple of western TV shows), the western genre was one of my favorites and I started writing it, too.  So now I’m completely sucked in, with no chance of ever escaping (not that I’d want to), but just as I couldn’t figure out why I disliked westerns in the first place, I can’t really figure out why I love them now.

Okay, I can think of one reason: THE COOLNESS FACTOR.

Honestly, westerns are the coolest thing ever.  Cool clothes that practically shout “Awesome style!” (and that make pretty much anyone look good – if you don’t look good in a uniform, you’ll look good in cowboy garb as Lee Majors so handily illustrates) with the cowboy hats and chaps and buckskin fringe and leather and all that great stuff.  Oh, and don’t forget the rather gorgeous dresses and hats that the women wore.  And then there’s the horses and shoot-outs (seven words: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly) and soaring soundtracks in the movies and southern drawls and it’s alllll so epic and cool.

And what about the stories of action and adventure, tender romances, drifters always looking for a place to call home but never finding one (SHANE *cries forever*), cattle drives, bank robberies, bounty hunters, and all that?  Westerns are always interesting, spellbinding, crammed full of excitement and drama, usually peppered with engaging characters.  I have yet to watch or read a badly done western – there’s just so much potential in the genre!

I guess what I’m trying to say in this scatter-brained excuse for a post is this: I love and adore westerns and I always will.  That’s all.

Eva

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19 thoughts on “a love letter to westerns

  1. Beautiful post, Eva.

    I love the Western genre, too. Some day I WILL write a good Western story. I will. I don’t feel ready for it just yet, but . . . yeah. I’m going to write at least one before I’m through.

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  2. I LOVE AND ADORE WESTERNS TOO AND I ALWAYS WILL.

    I loved this post! Probably because I relate SO much — I too used to have this unreasonable aversion to westerns, and now they’re like my FAVORITE THING EVER. (Excuse the overuse of caps — lots of strong feelings here. I think you understand. ;-P) It was the 2010 True Grit that hooked me first….actually, it was sort of Hidalgo, although now that I think about it that’s not really a western. But Frank Hopkins was my first ideal of a cowboy (and still is) and Mattie Ross was my favorite literary heroine (and still is.) Now I’ve seen many many more westerns, and the genre feels like home to me. 🙂 My very favorites are Lonesome Dove (BEST MOVIE EVER), True Grit, Wyatt Earp, Silverado, The Good Old Boys, The Man From Snowy River, The Long Riders….the list goes on and on.

    Thanks for writing this! It put a huge smile on my face. 🙂

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    • Would you recommend Lonesome Dove (the book)? ‘Cause it’s huge and I don’t want to waste time reading an enormous book that turns out not to be so great. 😛

      Also, I loved your comment. I really like Hidalgo and True Grit, too, and just…GAH. Westerns are amazing.

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      • Ohhh, the book Lonesome dove….well, I just love the whole story, and I enjoy Larry McMurtry’s writing, so I think it’s amazing. But there are some nasty parts in it, mostly brutality concerning the Indians, and some iffy bits with prostitutes (there’s one scene I skip altogether) and language throughout. So yes, I do recommend it, but only if you’re willing to enjoy the story beyond all that.

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      • Hmmm. Well, it looks like it’s a little above my comfort zone, so that’s disappointing. 😛 But I’m glad I found out before I went and bought it. 🙂

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  3. ❤ 🙂 ❤

    Alas, I have seen and read some pretty awful westerns. Movies and books where the only good thing about them was that they were westerns. There are stinkers. But there seem to be fewer stinkers than in other genres, which is pretty doggone cool.

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      • Well, there are westerns I just didn’t like (“The Wild Bunch,” “Hombre,” “Shalako,” “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford,” “Support Your Local Gunfighter,” “Return to Snowy River” ) and westerns that I think are simply not worth watching for whatever reason (“Paint Your Wagon,” “The White Buffalo” ). And then there are westerns that I disliked so much I didn’t finish watching them (“Once Upon a Time in the West”). Some of those are critically acclaimed and very beloved by other people, so this is pretty subjective.

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      • A perfectly legit reason to avoid a movie. I refuse to watch quite a few movies because I know I’m going to despise the character someone I love plays. I learned from The Prestige how painful that can be, and a lot of times it’s just not worth the possible gain you might get from the story.

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  4. Hello there! I just started reading your blog and was positively delighted as I read this post! I love westerns. And that is an understatement.
    I’m glad you reformed from your anti-western days. 🙂 I don’t think anyone should go through life without watching these grand old things!

    May I just say that I agree wholeheartedly with you on why they are so grand! Oh, and your header is amazing, you sure piled a bunch of great folks on there!

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    • Thanks! (I love your blog, too, and I gave it a follow.) Westerns are the greatest, aren’t they?

      I love my header – I think it’s the best one I’ve made, so far.

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  5. Pingback: movie review: high noon | coffee, classics, & craziness

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