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

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January 2012

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November 2012

December 2012


I know the concept of ‘quiet time’ has been smartly developed by young mothers as a useful tool when trying to get little kids to slow and settle, but I also like to have a bit of quiet time to myself every now and again. It sort of allows for some pondering or letting the reins go, so that the mind my run free. The best place I’ve found to do this is in the car on a drive home from work over a route that is so familiar and boring that it has become a chore. I tend to slow down and stick to the speed limit, which is ridiculously slow in places, flick the radio on to one of those cool jazz stations and just chill.

I was doing preciously this last month when in amongst the instrumental tunes, none of which I knew, came the familiar sound of the Dave Brubeck Quartet playing Take Five. I hadn’t heard it for years, and I’d forgotten just how good it is, especially the drumming of Joe Morello. It is an odd piece of music that came out of that unbelievably fertile year for instrumental jazz, 1959. This was the year that saw the release of Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue, which is as cool and fresh today as crushed ice in a tall glass of gin. If I had to pick a desert island disc then this would have to be on the short list, along with Hank Williams.

The next day as I thumbed through the paper I saw the obituary for Dave Brubeck who had died the day before on 5 December – just one day before his 92nd birthday. The playing of Take Five the day prior must have been an unannounced and silent display of respect from an unseen and unnamed music programmer. Whoever they were I thank them, it was just one of those little moments that will stick. You know, where were you when you heard . . .

Now what has any of this to do with the world of The Western? Well, Dave Brubeck grew up on a ranch in California that was managed by his father. And it was there that he would spend most of youth on horseback working the range. In fact, animals were such a big part of his life that he initially studied to be a veterinarian, only to switch to music – and the rest, as they say, is history.

Take Five, his signature tune in its 5/4 beat, is an easily recognizable but odd sort of sound that for some takes a bit of getting use to. Some never did. The British music writer Benny Green thought it inept but the public didn’t see it that way, as college kids across the US took to it with enthusiasm. Just goes to show doesn’t it, that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and maybe Take Five is an acquired taste that works well on people like me who can’t keep a note in tune even if their life depended on it, while Mr. Green was a musician (who sounded so much like Ben Elton when he spoke that I thought maybe they were related).

It has been said that Dave Brubeck was heavily influenced by Fats Waller (a musician who I adore), and while in the saddle as a young man had tried to mentally improvise tunes on the polyrhythms of cattle hooves and farm machinery. Maybe some of Joe Morello’s drumming plays homage to a harvester or two, although that particular song was written by Paul Desmond who’s saxophone is at front and center, and beautifully support by bassist Eugene Wright.

And what was I thinking of during my recent quiet time when I was taken by surprise with Take Five? Was it a plot for a new Western, an emerging character or a savage gunfight? You know, I really can’t remember. But that happens a lot with me. I think it might have something to do with age or being a boy. Or maybe my short attention span just puts me in the same boat as those little kids who need ‘quiet time’ every now and then.


Lee Clinton

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