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The Monument Valley: Music as film criticism

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"What makes a man leave bed and board and turn his back on home?"

The Drive-By Truckers' "Brighter Than Creation's Dark," features a song about John Ford -- and "The Searchers," in particular. (Listen to a sample or download here.) In some notes about the songs, Patterson Hood writes: "The album closes with 'The Monument Valley' and the classic imagery from John Ford's immortal masterpiece 'The Searchers' as the door closes on John Wayne's walk off into the desolate beauty of a disappearing America. Ford may have been America's greatest ever filmmaker and repeated viewings of his work reveals insights into our psyche that have never been expressed better. For me it's an extremely personal song and it was a magical take that night in the studio. I knew that it would be the last song on the album the moment I wrote it."

"The Monument Valley"

It’s all about where you put the horizon Said the Great John Ford to the young man rising You got to frame it just right and have some luck of course And it helps to have a tall man sitting on the horse Tell them just enough to still leave them some mystery A grasp of the ironic nature of history A man turns his back on the comforts of home The Monument Valley to ride off alone

And when the dust all settles and the story is told History is made by the side of the road By the men and women that can persevere And rage through the storm, no matter how severe And whether it’s a horse or a car or a train There’s gonna be some fine times and there’s gonna be some pain In the end it’s a silhouette framed by the sun And just The Monument Valley when the evening comes

It’s a strong wind blowing on the open range It’s gonna be beautiful and it’s gonna be strange It’s where to plant the camera and when to say action When to print the legend and when to leave the facts in And when to turn your back on the comforts of home And wander round The Monument Valley alone

(tip: Dave McCoy)

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