Sturm, Twang and the Imaginary Wild West in Europe
Saturday, January 11, 2014
Italian country (sort of). Max Pezzali "i cowboy non mollano"
By Ruth Ellen Gruber
Released Jan. 10, the latest single -- and video -- of the Italian popstar Max Pezzali is a country-style song, with the video filmed at an Italian wild west theme park, the Cowboys' Guest Ranch in Voghera.
The song is a single off his album Max 20, one of the top 10 selling albums in Italy in 2013.
Pezzali is not a country singer, and as far as I know none of his other songs approach the country music genre or use wild west props in the videos.
According to a quote carried on his web site, the new song reflects the fact that "in these difficult times, the world seems like a gigantic Far West without certainties or points of reference: charlatans, hucksters, and thugs of all types rage in the boundless prairies of the third millennium. Luckily there still exists a silent majority of people who tend to the facts, concreteness and hard work, getting up every morning without ever giving up. Because cowboys don't let go."
For several years I've been exploring the imaginary wild west in contemporary Europe -- observing and experiencing the many ways that Europeans embrace the mythology of the American Frontier to enhance, imbue or create their own identities. (Or, indeed, just have fun.) On this blog I will post pictures, stories and links relating to this multi-faceted subculture, from European country music to rodeos, theme parks, round-ups and saloons....
I'm an American writer, photographer, and public speaker long based in Europe. I've chronicled Jewish cultural developments and other contemporary European Jewish issues for more than 20 years and currently coordinate the web site www.jewish-heritage-europe.eu. My latest books are "National Geographic Jewish Heritage Travel: A Guide to Eastern Europe," published in 2007, and "Letters from Europe (and Elsewhere)," published in 2008.
I also am working on "Sturm, Twang and Sauerkraut Cowboys: Imaginary Wild Wests in Contemporary Europe," an exploration of the American West in the European imagination for which I won a 2006 Guggenheim Fellowship and an NEH summer stipend grant. In 2015 I was the Distinguished Visiting Chair in Jewish Studies at the College of Charleston, SC.