Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Every place has it. Whether it's ancient mythology, babylonian lore, or egyptian hieroglyphs, every culture has a history that may or may not be untrue. The million dollar question--which I will not attempt in answering--is why? But why is always a long and rambling tale, with no up or down or black or white. Instead I'm wondering about where. Where is America's folklore? It exists. But where is it in American film? In American literature?

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford was a good try. So was Tall Tale--Hell, Tall Tale was probably the best try. But, I still feel like there's this massive pool of pure Americana Storytelling as weird as the moonshiners in the Smoky Mountains that needs to be tapped into.

Our greatest writers have always written about America and American things but never Americana. Code  heroes, drunkards, southern goths, Jay Gatsbys and Daisy Buchanans.  We've explored the West with the likes of the OK Corral and John Wayne but this is all individualistic narratives based on modern times. I'm talking about the John Henrys, the Paul Bunyons, and whoever owns that Big Blue Cow. Is that what Blue Monday is? A Big Blue Cow? Plus, the greatest shows of all, carnivals! Medicine shows! Those were full of narrative.

Avett Brothers. More American than you.

With the recent mainstream recognition of bands like The Avett Brothers and England's Mumford & Sons pumping "Americana" music into our homes during the Grammys--plus the rise of antiquity via the Hipsters--you would think that someone would have started exploring this. Water for Elephants is working it, but that's one book and one movie. But then again, sometimes that's all you need is one book and one movie.

It seems as though we're so young, as a culture, that we care more for forging our own folklore with our generation (Bob Dylan...) but I think it's important that we look at what's already there. We all learned about Johnny Appleseed for a reason. Let's expand on it. Let's run with it and create a story, a narrative, an identity of Early America beyond what's already been pounded into our heads since grade school: Revolution, Slavery, Civil Rights.

1 comment:

Cate Hahneman said...

It's Babe, the big blue Ox. And she belongs to that Paul Bunyan. And they are from Minnesota, my homestate where they remain in big wooden statues. Now, that's Americana. :)