Sing it, Johnny boy

The Steinbeck montage on Google’s Doodle yesterday put me in the mood to lean back with a sprig of straw between my teeth and pick tunes on my banjo.  Those were the good years and the bad years.  When you knew your neighbor, but your neighbor might end up packing up in a wagon bound west.  Or your neighbor might end up being an outlaw wanted in four states.    Hard to tell back then.

I don’t have a banjo. So, I put in Britain’s first country music minstrel legend:

The Rooster.

Also known as Roger Miller.

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(Who did you think I meant?)

Let it never be said that 12th century feudalism is no place for honkytonk.

I won’t hear complaints of how the lyre and the guitar sound nothing alike.

Don’t spoil my folk tales with historical facts about the real Prince John’s modern justice system.

The honest truth is that the lean, vast years of the Dustbowl in the Grapes of Wrath and the repressed poor from the Robin Hood story have more than a little in common.  Underrepresented in politics, ignored and shoved out of the way for others’ interests, the people of both stories kept their hearts full even when their bellies were empty.  In fact, many Americans can watch the 1973 animated movie and still remember desperately saving for a meager birthday present for a child, like the widow Mother Rabbit.  They can understand Friar Tuck’s unreasoning fury at seeing charity funnelled away by beaurocracy.  And they shore knew their fair share of Sherrifs.

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Plus, I see this guy at Bass Pro a lot.

It can’t be a surprise, then, to see so many famous outlaws and lawmen of Western movies in the cast list for Robin Hood.

The narrator, Allan-a-dale, and three of the songs were done by Nashville singer-songwriter Roger Miller.  Roy Rodgers and John Wayne’s sidekick cowboy comedian Andy Devine voiced Friar Tuck. Green Acres’ Pat Buttram was the Sherrif of Nottingham.  Andy Griffith’s annoying neighbor Goober played Trigger, while deputy Ken Curtis from Gunsmoke did Nutsy.  (Golly!)

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Every Disney movie wraps around a unique musical core, but this movie shows that the woes of the poor folk of Nottingham belong to the chords of old-time cowboy tunes.

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Just another Saturday evening in Mountain Home.

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