Tuesday, May 17, 2005

on the cusp, alarmingly

Last November/December, as I was starting on the first Trace story, Scott and I were telling each other that westerns were about due to come into style again. "Deadwood" had already finished its first season, and we guessed there would be more to follow. How right we were.
In the last three hours I've seen three things that totally freaked me out.

1) I went to the mall today. All the new summer stuff is in the stores. Just a sampling:
  • Linen skirts with cutwork embroidery around the hem.
  • Double-layered, three-tiered gauze "petticoat" skirts.
  • Sheer blouses with embroidery and pintucks, looking for all the world like a Victorian shirtwaist.
  • Belts with conchos and leather strands.
  • Heaps of silver and turqoise.

And a half-dozen other examples of pioneer-flavored looks in women's clothing for the summer. It's less peasant-y than when it came around in 1987, and they're pairing the flowy skirts with stretchy modern tops, or sheery fluttery blouses with slim capris, so the effect is still modern. I like it quite a bit, but I kept looking at all this vintage-inspired stuff and cackling like a nut. For the first time in my life I'm ahead of the curve.

2) TNT is releasing a new 6-part miniseries next month, titled "Into the West." It's the saga of two families, one Native American, one American Pioneer. I already knew this was coming, but not when. Sarah McLachlan covered her song "World on Fire" for it, cleverly changing the lyric, "planes crash" to "blades slash." How very, very, clever. The video is on Netscape Music.

3) On a different, more unsettling note, I keep running into this Cowboy Troy dude. (No, this has nothing to do with the resurgence of westerns, it's just freaky.) He calls his style "hick-hop," and it's exactly what it sounds like--rap set to twangy guitars. Is it different? Yeah, but not in a good way. Frankly, I can't process it. To my ear, he's skillfully amalgamated everything I hate about both types of music. He's apparently been doing it a long time, and won the attention of some heavy-hitters in Nashville, but the sound and the songs themselves strike me as mere gimicry.

I'm not sure why, either. Country music has a tradition of "scatting" and "talking blues," so you'd think there would be some reconciliation between that and what Troy is doing, but I sure can't find it. So what's the difference? The sound, the production, a simple difference in cadence between scat and rap? I don't know. Of course, I'm not a good judge of either style.

A few months ago there was a commercial out for iPod, I believe, that showed several city kids breakdancing in alleys and on streets, accompanied by hoedown music. The result was curiously poetic, and absolutely hilarious. Apparently, however, it wasn't as impossibly juxtaposed as I first thought.

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