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Posted: Monday, April 22, 2013 7:06 AM


Dateline (New York City) Great Western Cowboy Songs reflect the soul of America and rekindle the memory and struggle of our courageous pioneers, who sacrificed everything to move westward to seek freedom and opportunity.

Blazing at this nexus of our national soul stand two cowboy songs, Ennio Morricone’s iconic 1966 eponymous movie theme, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, and San Diego singer-songwriters Scott West and Justin Werner’s Cowboys & Aliens, which is currently going viral on Youtube! West and Werner’s Cowboys & Aliens shares its name with the graphic novel, which became a Jon Favreau directed film starring Harrison Ford and Donald Craig, and produced by Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard and Scott Mitchell Rosenberg.

Some interesting parallels exist between these two songs. Morricone emulated the sound of the howling coyote in The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, and West created the sound of galloping horses, which is one reason why these two songs are more compelling than the other songs on my list. Both movies revolved around a heroic cowboy overcoming enormous odds.

Both Morricone and West used organic sounds to create their famous themes. Morricone combined three different instruments to create his legendary coyote sound and introduced the now familiar ‘Spaghetti Western’ elements of bells, voices and echoed western guitar. Morricone used different thematic instruments for each key character – a flute for The Man with No Name, human voices for Tuco, and arghilofono for Angel Eyes. Morricone cherishes the human voice saying, “it is the most beautiful instrument of all with a sound attached to life itself.”

Scott West & Justin Werner's Cowboys & Aliens

West emulated the sound of a running horse by recording a galloping drum pattern with a slap back delay and used a vibraslap to create motifs of a horse’s breath and the sound of spinning spurs. David Santucci provided the famous cowboy whistling. Justin Werner and Scott West’s haunting and charismatic vocals cast a campfire glow on their lyrics about epic battle, a lonely desert and survival. West’s use of backward gongs, reverse bells, and a plastic drinking straw blowing into a paper Starbuck’s cup filled with ice water to depict the Cowboy-Alien battle during the bridge is pure genius.

When Cowboys & Aliens screenwriter Hawk Ostby was introduced at the 2012 Omaha Film Festival as their keynote speaker in early March, West and Werner’s Cowboys & Aliens song was played in the background, which highlights how recognizable and famous this song has become.

West and Werner’s Cowboys & Aliens video passed 1.5 million plays on Youtube after being featured by George Noory's Coast To Coast AM and received friendly nods from Cowboys & Aliens director Jon Favreau and creator/executive producer Scott Mitchell Rosenberg, when Favreau favorited and shared West’s Youtube link to his 1 million plus Twitter followers several times, and Rosenberg followed suit on Facebook and Twitter. Fox News Channel and Fox & Friends featured Werner West's Cowboys & Aliens Theme Song in Fox's Anna-Kooiman-hosted-March-2013 "Honesty In America" series.


West’s Cowboys & Aliens video is a stunning triple threat with spectacular imagery, infectious music and catchy lyrics! No wonder Werner West's theme will be featured in the upcoming Cowboys & Aliens Animated Graphic Novel movie trailer.

West’s clever layering of old and new photographs depicting thundering cowboys on horseback, vibrant southwestern desert scenes, the native American Ghost Dance, Stonehenge, the Pyramids, the Pleiades, Winston Churchill, the nuclear cloud over Hiroshima and the D-Day Invasion, all underscore West and Werner’s point that it’s “Time to save the world again.” Their lyric, “The sky’s falling on this desert town,” captures this struggle with nursery rhyme poignancy.

The image of the American Cowboy still stirs courage and is woven tightly into the fabric of America’s own struggle for survival and freedom. With America facing its greatest financial crisis and unprecedented presidential, congressional and governmental attacks on personal liberty, the struggle for freedom and opportunity is even more real today than it was 200 years ago. Spielberg’s Cowboys & Aliens is just Hollywood’s latest casting of the American Cowboy overcoming enormous odds.

Ennio Morricone's Theme from The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Here’s my list of the 20 greatest cowboy songs:

Ennio Morricone’s 1966 The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, Scott West and Justin Werner’s Cowboys & Aliens, Bon Jovi’s 1986 Dead or Alive, Jason Meadow’s 2007 100% Cowboy, The Outlaw’s 1980 Ghost Riders in the Sky, The Highwaymen’s (Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings ) 1984 The Last Cowboy Song, Dominic Frontiere’s 1968 Hang ‘Em High, Waylon Jennings’ My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys, The Eagle’s 1973 Desperado, Hayley Westenra’s 2008 Oh Shenandoah, Tesla’s 1986 A Modern Day Cowboy, James Taylor’s 1970 Sweet Baby James, Dimitri Tiompkin and Ned Washington’s 1959 RAWHIDE, Charlie Daniels’s 1970 The Devil Came Down to Georgia, Ennio Morricone’s 1965 For a Few Dollars More, Trevor Jones and Randy Edelman’s 1992 Last of the Mohicans, Elmer Bernstein’s 1960 The Magnificent Seven, Michael Murphey’s 1973 Wildfire, The Lone Ranger Theme and The Theme From Bonanza!

New York City, New York
April 8, 2012 (Updated April 22, 2013)

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Nadine Battaglia's Top 20 Best Cowboy Songs:

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