John Wayne Is Big Leggy

Album: Battle Hymns for Children Singing (1982)
Charted: 11

Songfacts®:

  • "John Wayne Is Big Leggy" was released in July 1982; backed by "The Sabres Of Paradise," it was the short-lived Haysi Fantayzee's debut single. If this is a tribute song, it remains to be seen what "The Duke" himself would have made of it, as he died in 1979. Probably more than any other actor, Wayne came to symbolise not just the American cowboy but everything that was fundamentally decent about America. He made over two hundred films, most of them Westerns or connected in some way with the Old West. His two greatest films were made towards the end of his career, True Grit (1969) and - arguably his greatest performance - the low key 1976 film The Shootist in which he played a world weary retired gunfighter who was dying of cancer. Although J.B. Books elected to go out in a blaze of glory, Wayne himself died of cancer - of the stomach - having already beaten lung cancer in 1964, albeit by the drastic measure of the total removal of his left lung. (Wayne was a chain smoker). In 1981, the John Wayne Cancer Institute was established by Wayne's family in his memory, and was presided over by his eldest son until his own death in 2003.

    Wayne won an Oscar for True Grit; although he probably deserved it for his portrayal of the fiery, no-nonsense Marshal Rooster Cogburn, it was really a lifetime achievement award. Glen Campbell, who would later record "Rhinestone Cowboy" played a major supporting role.

    Rooster Cogburn and most of the characters Wayne played were indeed "big leggy"; as he stood six foot four, that was hardly surprising. The reference to him being "big as a ranch" obviously does not concern his gait.

    It has been suggested that this song refers to or portrays Wayne as a racial bigot, a tiresome allegation easily and too often made, even in the 1980s, but a white man who married three Latin American women shouldn't really have to answer that charge. This song is tongue in cheek if nothing else.

    Here is an image from True Grit.
  • "John Wayne Is Big Leggy" was also released as an extended version running to 6 minutes 53 seconds, and as a "Groovy Long Version & Wrong Speed Edit" which runs to some 9 minutes 20 seconds. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England, for above 2

Comments: 1

  • Daniel from Uk, United KingdomThis song is about sexual intercourse - specifically the 'doggy' position as a solution to a troublesome gunbelt!
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Who Did It First?Music Quiz

Do you know who recorded the original versions of these ten hit songs?

Lip-Synch RebelsSong Writing

What happens when Kurt Cobain, Iron Maiden and Johnny Lydon are told to lip-synch? Some hilarious "performances."

History Of RockSong Writing

An interview with Dr. John Covach, music professor at the University of Rochester whose free online courses have become wildly popular.

George HarrisonFact or Fiction

Did Eric Clapton really steal George's wife? What's the George Harrison-Monty Python connection? Set the record straight with our Fact or Fiction quiz.

Ralph Casale - Session ProSongwriter Interviews

A top New York studio musician, Ralph played guitar on many '60s hits, including "Lightnin' Strikes," "A Lover's Concerto" and "I Am A Rock."

Johnette Napolitano of Concrete BlondeSongwriter Interviews

The singer/bassist for Concrete Blonde talks about how her songs come from clairvoyance, and takes us through the making of their hit "Joey."