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Music: Willie Nelson’s New Song Goes Brokeback

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Willie Nelson Personally, I am sick to death of all the jokes about “gay cowboys” flooding society and late-night television in the wake of the film Brokeback Mountain. Director Ang Lee’s movie brings Annie Proulx’s short story to the big screen, and anyone (with an open mind) who sees and really gets it knows the genders aren’t the real issue — the real story is about love.

And it’s no laughing matter. This tale of forbidden love between two shepherds – not cowboys – shines a light on real tragedy: the pain of loving someone knowing that vile, judgmental society won’t approve – yet not being able to quit it; the stress of having to pretend to be someone else day in and day out; the horror one feels upon discovering one’s spouse is feigning affection; losing one’s true love. Not exactly ha-ha material.

Well, expect more homophobia-inspiring jokes from Letterman and Conan and friends. Country-music legend Willie Nelson has released a new song, songwriter Ned Sublette’s 1981 piece “Cowboys Are Frequently, Secretly (Fond of Each Other).”

From the Associated Press:

Available exclusively through iTunes, the song features choppy Tex-Mex style guitar runs and Nelson’s deadpan delivery of lines like, “What did you think all them saddles and boots was about?” and “Inside every cowboy there’s a lady who’d love to slip out.” …

Someone passed a copy of the song to Nelson back in the late 1980s and, according to Nelson’s record label, Lost Highway, he recorded it last year at his Pedernales studio in Texas.

Is Nelson singing with tongue in cheek or taking the matter seriously? I can’t say for sure, though he did contribute a serious love song to the Brokeback Mountain soundtrack. I suspect that his point is to tell society to grow the hell up and accept that love is love. After all, there are gay cowboys and gay shepherds and gay athletes and gays in every profession. We are everywhere, like it or not.

GLBT people and their families and relationships deserve the same respect as heterosexuals’. With any luck, mainstream society will get over its collective childishness and/or control-freak nature, drop the jokes and demeaning, and get over itself. And hopefully, they will accept Willie Nelson’s song for what it is: a fine country song that offers a story about life.

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About NR Davis

  • David

    He who laughs first, laughs last. Great column by the way. Keep up the good work!

  • http://www.midnitcafe.blogspot.com Mat Brewster

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. God bless Willie Nelson.

  • nugget

    Willie Nelson is phony.

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    Based on what, Mr./Ms. Nugget?

  • http://www.djradiohead.com DJRadiohead

    The timing seems a little cynical but maybe the song is gold.

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    Yeah, the timing struck me as odd too. The song (save the “lady” line) is pretty good. But I judge by the Nelson-performed song that rolls during the closing credits. Sensitive, respectful, serious, sad… and I bawled like a baby – even hyperventilated in the middle of a public theater – when it washed over me and into my heart.

  • http://www.djradiohead.com DJRadiohead

    I thought the song was kind of average. If it weren’t about what it is about it would not have made a single headline.

    Still haven’t seen the movie. I hate movie theaters. I don’t really like love story movies. The Wife to Whom I Am Married wants to see it so we’ll probably rent it some point.

  • P.

    Come on, now. Gay cowboys?… or shephards. You didn’t think that would be the butt of jokes (pardon the pun). Being WAY too sensitive doesn’t endear the gay culture to general society, either. Toughen up a little and maybe you’ll be taken more seriously. It’s not “gay-bashing” to tell a gay joke. To the public at large, the gay lifestyle is odd and, of course, oddness is a rich source of humor.

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    “gay lifestyle”???

    That tells me something about you – and rids you of any credibility with me.

    As far as thickening my skin, when I get over those I love who have been hurt and killed, those who have experienced discrimination at the hands of their government and/or church, those who have had to cut themselves off from family and former friends, etc. — all because of who they are, AND when every American is equal under law, then, perhaps then I will have the ability to find humor in the jokes. As of now, all I know — and I mean KNOW, not think — that “humor” of that nature teaches mainstreamers that it’s ok to make fun of queers. Granted, people have a right to tell the jokes and to laugh at them. Similarly, I have the right to disapprove of them. Ain’t freedom swell?

    Peace,
    NR Davis