Inside Country Music’s Polarizing ‘Urban Cowboy’ Movement
June 13, 2015 - fall Denim
Jon Cryer’s iconic Duckie Dale from a Eighties John Hughes classical Pretty in Pink competence not seem to have a lot in common with a dancehall on a fringes of Southeast Texas. But we could couple one object — that leather-stringed Western bolo tie cinched loosely around Duckie’s neck — directly to a honky-tonk named Gilley’s and a film that brought western conform and nation song into a mainstream. This year, a 1980 John Travolta film Urban Cowboy celebrates a 35th anniversary and CMT is chronicling a arise of a Urban Cowboy transformation in a time-warping new documentary.
Urban Cowboy: The Rise and Fall of Gilley’s, premiering on CMT on Saturday, Jun 13th, during 9:00 p.m., explores a origins of Gilley’s and a implications of how inhabitant attention, followed by prevalent commercialization, can be a lifetime bonus for some — and a rain for others. Directed by a same group that produces a innovative 30 for 30 array on ESPN, the documentary facilities interviews with Gilley, Travolta and others who were constituent to a Urban Cowboy scene. It also looks during a real-life “urban cowboys” that desirous a film — many of whom went behind to their normal lives on a oil supply while a rest of America became smitten with each tack on Travolta’s collar and finally welcomed nation song into a mainstream.
Based on a 1979 Esquire Magazine story, Urban Cowboy told a story of a nation song adore event between Travolta’s Bud and Debra Winger’s Sissy in a city of Pasadena, Texas. The transformation was all set in Gilley’s, where real-life “Gilleyrats,” as they affectionately named themselves, spent their nights and income dancing, celebration drink and roving a bar’s famed automatic bull. At a core was singer-pianist Mickey Gilley (a cousin of Jerry Lee Lewis), who invested in a bar with his business partner, Sherwood Cryer, when his song career had stalled.
When Urban Cowboy premiered, however, Gilley’s career reignited.
“It launched me into a stratosphere,” Gilley tells Rolling Stone Country of Urban Cowboy. Suddenly, a charismatic crooner started logging Number One hits, including “Stand by Me” from a Urban Cowboy soundtrack, that also featured marks by a Charlie Daniels Band and Kenny Rogers. Like other films whose measure spawned a transformation (O Brother, Where Art Thou? nudged Americana adult a charts), a song and a conform took on lives of their own.
While a disco aesthetic, a accepted song character during a time, was all about indulging hedonism and dancing your cares divided while wearing parsimonious and/or brief polyester pieces and soaring boots as unpleasant as they were high, a Wranglers, cowboy boots and leather accessories of Urban Cowboy supposing an authentic and all-American alternative. To many, it was a lovely change.
“I was in an conveyor in Nashville one day behind in Eighties,” recalls Gilley. “There was a man on there who said, ‘I wish to appreciate we for all we did for Western wear.’ And we said, ‘You need to appreciate John Travolta. He’s a one who brought it front and center.’ Every night when we go to bed, we appreciate John Travolta for gripping my career alive.”
Indeed, a spotlight from Travolta’s Urban Cowboy authorised Gilley to make Gilley’s into a sell machine, peddling all from branded rags to panties, and branch a onetime internal honky-tonk into a full-scale informative church where wannabe cowboys flocked in their frail new denim, looking for emancipation on a behind of a automatic longhorn (which, also, was branded and sold). In addition, wardrobe pieces like a bolo tie and cowboy boots went from being mocked as hillbilly to haute couture. Ralph Lauren collections from a early Eighties boasted thousand-dollar level dresses and thick china belt buckles.
“It was substantially my favorite film knowledge to do as an actor,” says Travolta in a documentary.
Not everyone, however, was thrilled. Actor Barry Corbin, one of a Gilleyrats who also had a purpose in a film, mourns what a popularity did to a club. “It became something wholly opposite when that film came out,” he says. “It became a traveller attraction, mecca. All that place was a drink joint, it’s all it was.”
As nation song began receiving a mainstream courtesy it had always lacked, Music Row was scrambling to find a approach to support to a fast flourishing audience, attempting to furnish some-more permitted nation sounds to compare a demand. Johnny Lee’s “Lookin’ for Love,” from a soundtrack, was an evident and outrageous hit, reaching Number One on a nation singles chart, as did other soft-country transport like Gayle’s “Too Many Lovers” and Dolly Parton and Rogers’ “Islands in a Stream.” Gilley himself had a fibre of Number Ones, buoyed by his connection with a film.
This renouned code of nation song was a ideal change of what was once discharged as strikebreaker Americana with a discriminating cocktail sensibility. Though their sounds were inherently opposite it’s a accurate same settlement that saw Garth Brooks and Shania Twain to a tip decades later, and then, Luke Bryan and Taylor Swift.
But conform is fickle. The diluted nation song of Urban Cowboy became a guilty pleasure, and bars opposite a nation eventually ditched their Gilley’s-made bulls, while congregation traded in their cowboy boots for preserve sandals and late-Eighties trends. Gilley’s itself burnt to a belligerent in 1990 in a questionable fire.
Still Urban Cowboy leftovers sojourn — like Duckie’s bolo tie. Even today, as Americana song seeps deeper into renouned culture, a Western wear cultured is saying a resurgence, with brands like Pendleton Woolen Mills and epic beards appearing everywhere from New York to Paris. There’s even a bed and breakfast in Brooklyn (and, soon, East Nashville) called a Urban Cowboy BB.
Travolta, too, went out of fashion, until he staged a quip in 1994’s Pulp Fiction, artwork himself once again into a informative iconography with his Uma Thurman Chuck Berry-boogie dance scene. Around his neck?
A bolo tie.