The early '70s were not good for the Georgia backwoods. If 1972's Deliverance is to be believed, a trip into rural Georgia resulted in grown men being forced to squeal like pigs with dueling banjos ringing in their ears.
From 1979-1985, however, the nation was introduced to an altogether different Georgia, located in a fictional county named Hazzard. There were still pigs, but it was a crooked county commissioner named Jefferson Davis "Boss" Hogg. And there was still squealing, but mostly from Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane as he and his faithful basset hound Flash were outsmarted time and time again by cousins Bo and Luke Duke.
Compared to Deliverance, the "Dukes of Hazzard's" Georgia was a utopia. After all, how many of us don't dream of skinny dipping with our hunky cousin when not fighting crime, always managing to get your car fixed after jumping Cripple Creek, and having leggy kin like Daisy Duke? And the Dukes' theme song and narration was by motherfucking outlaw "Balladeer" Waylon Jennings!
You may not remember, but during the 1982-1983 season, the actors playing Bo and Luke Duke walked off the set following a contract dispute, and two scabs stepped in as their cousins, Coy and Vance Duke. Watching trailers for the new Dukes of Hazzard movie -- but more so comparing the recently re-released original TV soundtrack to the film's soundtrack -- is like watching that second-rate season: It's working like a $2 watch.
The original soundtrack is held together by a loose theme, featuring a big race and Boss Hogg's conniving ways. Hokey, yes, but also sincere. The movie's soundtrack, on the other hand, is barely held together by a loose thread. The Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Charlie Daniels may be stereotypical Southern rock -- and the General Lee sure did boogie, traveling fast as bad news -- but the Dukes were staunch traditionalists. In the TV series, Daisy proclaims a love of Patsy Cline. On the original TV soundtrack, Johnny Cash pays tribute to the General Lee's orange bolt of lightning charging through the night. And Loretta Lynn guest-starred on the series. Bo and Luke even sing on the TV soundtrack, sounding more like the Band and Merle Haggard than Molly Hatchet or Ram Jam.
As the New York Times astutely points out in its July 21 issue, the Jessica Simpson/Willie Nelson rendition of Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" is the aural equivalent of a pop culture mash-up, or what the Dukes might call music for yahoos and peckerwoods. Simpson's portrayal of a feminist icon of sorts goes all breathy Britney and brainless in a bikini to a dancehall beat, and Nelson just seems to be stickin' out like a bottle of bourbon at a country revival. More fiddle, less fiddling with genre, thanks.
Speaking of Nelson, he's certainly the kissing cousin in this mess. It would be hard to not hint at some incest in a piece citing rural South classics, and Nelson seems to be the one double-dipping in the DNA pool. Not only does he appear on this song, but also in the movie as Uncle Jesse. And on the movie soundtrack, he defuses Jennings' rebellious "Good Ol' Boys"! Over on the original soundtrack, there is a bonus track of Nelson and Jennings' "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys," proving Nelson is much more convincing playing himself.
Daisy nor Boss Hogg would play this new film or its soundtrack at the Boar's Nest, and not even Uncle Jesse's moonshine could leave me taking a shine to it.
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