Gunsmoke

Album: Hurry Sundown (1977)
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Songfacts®:

  • "Gunsmoke" harkens back to the days of the Old West, conjuring images of notorious outlaws meting out justice in the streets. And that's precisely the type of song that Henry Paul was trying to create when he wrote it in the middle of the night in a hotel room on Central Park South after playing a concert in New York. Says Paul: "When you're in a band called The Outlaws to begin with... that point was my attempt to try and write in character for the group from the standpoint of subject matter. And so that song was immediately looked upon fondly from the label, from Clive Davis and all these people that scrutinized our work. That song, ironically enough on the same album as 'Hurry Sundown,' both were looked at very positively."
  • The song also contains a peek into what the rock and roll lifestyle was like for the band at that time. Says Paul: "That song has a lot of metaphors that were more parallel with - literally - with my life and my lifestyle at the time. 'We deal with darkness ruthlessly, we love the way it feels' is sort of the type of life you live, and you love the way it feels. It's kind of like, you just immerse yourself into that lifestyle, and you just kind of love the gothic character of it. And so that song is much more metaphoric than it is historically correct. But I did conscientiously try to write in character with regards to our image." Paul says it's a difficult thing to set out to write a song in that fashion: "It's a challenge, to set out to do that and do it well. It's a challenge as a writer. I just continue to learn so much about songwriting."
  • For Paul, it's awkward remembering what he used to wear to present that "outlaw" image: "'There's a shadow on my life, it's colder than the night,' it's kind of like, you get caught up in the lifestyle and the myth that you create, that you wind up becoming sort of this cartoon character, this rock and roll clown, for lack of a better word. I never knew what that meant until later. Because we were so committed to what we wore and how we acted, we never thought for a moment that we might be absolute idiots." (Check out our interview with Henry Paul. For more, go to www.blackhawkmusic.us.)

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