A Day In The Life

Billy the Kid
July 18, 2007, 10:54 pm
Filed under: Music

While in Dallas at the big music workshop, I had the pleasure of listening to some of Aaron Copland’s compositions. Namely Fanfare for the Common Man and excerpts from Rodeo and Billy the Kid.  Copland has for a long time been one of my favorite American composers and Fanfare for the Common Man moves me as profoundly as the National Anthem or America the Beautiful.  Copland’s music is distinctly American in that he often incorporates folk songs and cowboy songs into his orchestral compositions.  Most of his works are accessible, simple and infused with a purity of instrumentation. 


This is an excellent recording of some of Copland’s most famous and well-known works.   I highly recommend giving it a good listen.  Even those of you who aren’t enamoured with classical music should recognize many of the melodies because they have been widely used in modern media. 

Billy the Kid is actually a ballet.  It was commissioned in 1938 by Lincoln Kirstein for his Ballet Caravan.  It is comprised of eight sections of music including the famous ‘Gun Battle’ and ‘Billy’s Death.’  After hearing part of this wonderful composition in Dallas, I had Billy the Kid on the brain so I did some on-line research and found this comprehensive site.  If you are interested in some excellent material on Billy the Kid this the place to visit.  I spent over an hour reading through the life and times of William H. Bonney.  One section I found very interesting was a comparison of the movies Young Guns and Young Guns II with actual historical facts.  One thing led to another and I remembered that I had the soundtrack for Young Guns II on cassette so I dug through my tape collection and listened to Jon Bon Jovi this afternoon.


Bon Jovi’s music is as descriptive as Copland’s in capturing the spirit of the American West in relation to the story of Billy the Kid.  The album is entitled ‘Blaze of Glory’ and includes music written for and inspired by Young Guns II.   The recording contains snippets of dialogue from the movie which makes it even more fun to listen to.  Lou Diamond Phillips who portrayed Chavez y Chavez in the movie also does some vocals.  

I leave you with a quote that Billy the Kid made to a Las Vegas Gazette reporter in December 1880.  “I don’t blame you for writing of me as you have.  You had to believe other stories, but then I don’t know if anyone would believe anything good of me anyway.”


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

That is very interesting. I like watching Young Guns and Young Guns II. 🙂 I will have to check out all the music. 🙂

Comment by Debbie

awww… thats sad what he said.

darned media, anyway.

Young Guns was on the other night — on one of the extra channels. But I didn’t watch it. Have you seen it?

Comment by Pamela

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