Monday, March 8, 2010

Guns - In America, a Literary, Musical Psychotic Heritage of the Frontier

I can't get over the news reports of people wearing their guns to Starbucks, among other public places, just because they can. It made me think about all the popular songs that mention guns: from "I Shot the Sheriff" to Queen's opening line, "Mama, just killed a man, put my gun against his head, pulled the trigger now he's dead."  I just googled "songs about guns" and found a site that lists 2,584 of them! I don't even want to know how many stories, although offhand I recollect a novel which became a TV mini-series called, simply, The Gun, about all the different owners a single gun passed through, and those people's stores - sort of like the Red Violin, only it's a gun.

What's the deal with our national obsession with guns? I suppose it goes back to the Wild West, where the absence of The Law created the necessity for each person to own a gun for protection, from both animals and humans. The whole notion of the Frontier and what it has meant to the U.S. is a fascinating one for me. I have recently read Frederick Jackson Turner's "The Significance of the Frontier in American History" originally published in 1893, and find his analysis both interesting and disturbing. He presented his ideas at a speech at the Chicago Columbia Exposition in 1893, opening with the announcement that the U.S. Census Bureau had officially declared the frontier "closed" in 1890. I keep going back to that idea as a starting point for a novel, although I'm not quite sure what it means at this point. It's just such a darned fascinating idea!

1 comment:

  1. Don't forget Cher's biggest hit from the 1960s: "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)"

    I think if I walked into a coffee shop and saw someone with a gun strapped to his thigh, I would walk on out and find another coffee shop.