What is the Corral about?

Well, simply, it is a place to round-up ideas, thoughts, comments and anything else you may like to hear about. My original intention was to have a forum but the time to manage such a gathering is really beyond me at this stage. But via email I can gather up your input and get it into the Corral.

So, would you like to make comment?

What is your favorite western story, either as a book or a movie?

Want to tell us why?

What are you currently reading, watching or listening to (regardless if it is a Western or not)?

What do you want to see in future Western stories (grit or romance, maybe both, gunplay or justice, grim reality or happy endings)?

Anything you would like to see in one of my stories?



March 2011

April 2011

May 2011

June 2011

July 2011




















What am I currently reading?

Nemesis by L. J. Martin

What would I like to read?

I give up on The Lone Rider of Santa Fe by Buck Dexter, seems on one owns a copy.

Have I told you that I like Western music?

Well actually I like all kinds of music – well nearly all. Sometimes I’m a little slow to tap my foot to the polka, but hey, if I were to be in a Munich beer hall in October it would probably sound just fine. No that’s wrong. If I was having a beer in Munich in October I bet it would sound just great, especially after the fourth or fifth beer – and hopefully I get the chance to do just that before I go to . . . heaven or hell or wherever.

So, while beer hall music may be a little thin in my collection, most of the other stuff is well represented, be it pop, rock, blues, jazz, world music, big band swing, classical, and of course country & western. Or should I separate western swing from C&W? Maybe?

Western swing was my first introduction to cowboy music and it caught my attention via the movies, and I thought it was great toe-tapping stuff. In fact, how can you not move your feet to the sound of steel guitars and fiddles? These recordings, dating back to the 1930s, still stand up pretty well with the likes of Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, particularly when Tommy Duncan was the lead vocalist; and also The Sons of the Pioneers that originally included Roy Rogers’ warbling tonsils. After Roy left the Sons he did a great solo version of Cole Porter’s western ballad Don’t Fence Me In, but it was Bingo, LaVerne, Maxene and Patty who really made that one their own, and in doing so took western swing mainstream. From there it was on the slippery slope of populism, as it morphed from hillbilly to rockabilly and onto the devil’s music – rock and roll. That was back when the 4 Aces of Swing backed Bill Haley and before they became the Comets. Well at least we still have Asleep at the Wheel to keep the wonderful traditions of western swing alive.

As a young boy growing up in Queensland in the 1950s (which I guess may have been a akin to a US youngster growing-up in Texas), it was impossible not to hear and love Hank Williams. To me Hank is the real deal and a superstar – and reading about his (short) life story just enhances the talent of the man. That he was dead at 29 seems impossible when measured against the legacy of his music. I share my birthday with Hank and love doing so – I know, sad to think that I can take any reflected glory out such a coincident, but fans do that and I’m a fan. My wife’s fan lament is for that other great country superstar of a little later, Miss Patsy Cline, who was to also have such a short life yet leave such a wonderful memorial of music. It says a lot about the talent that has been drawn to Nashville over the past eighty years. To those lucky few that got to see these two stars live, it must be a memory to savour forever. Interestingly, Willie Nelson, who is still going strong at 78 has a legacy that dated back to then, as he penned that ageless song Crazy that Patsy made a hit in 1962. She was to die in a light plane crash the following year.

I guess my next stop with western music came via Marty Robbins with the likes of El Paso and Big Iron, which takes storytelling lyrics to new heights and lengths – 4 minutes and 38 seconds for El Paso. Unfortunately, the Devil Woman song didn’t do it for me – too much angst and shifting of blame, but Marty was one hell of a songwriter and musician. So off the bus to find something new, which came with my introduction to Buck Ownes.

By the time I discovered the Buckaroos, Buck was nearly 40 and well into a music career that had started as backup to a who’s who of pop and country stars. I got to hear Buck via Armed Forces Radio Saigon in 1968, when they played his original version of Act Naturally, which I had always thought was a Beatles song. From there I was able to find his treasure trove of hits with that unique Bakersfield sound, which I’m sure also had an influence on Raul Malo and the Mavericks sometime later.

Now during all of this time there was a lurking shadow on the airwaves, one in black. He was a contemporary of Marty Robbins and also Elvis, Jerry and Roy (Orbison that is). He was of course, Mr. Johnny Cash, who warned us all that it was not safe (at least in hindsight) to take your guns to town.

Now, what can I possibly say about Johnny Cash? Well absolutely nothing that hasn’t been said before. So I will tell you about my favourite JC number. It is the Man in Black’s version of Cocaine Blues. To me this song has it all – rhythm, beat, storytelling, irreverence and ‘cowboy muscle’. And boy does it come with some good gritty lyrics. Willy Lee, the hero-villain of the story, is way out of control and unrepentant. This is a song that needs to be turned up loud and sung along to, and you can do that on YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ahbpzmir-k0 This is one to keep up your sleeve for that next karaoke night when you’ve finally had your fill of Abba.  

Then after you do, go back some 60 years or more and have listen to Billy Hughes doing his version from 1947 at www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCM_r7NsV7E&feature=related and also the 1948 release by Roy Hogsed at
that was to become the arrangement that Johnny was to use.

And when you do, tell me, is that a touch of polka I can hear in the background?



August 2011
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