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How the West Was Sung

Music in the Westerns of John Ford

Kathryn M. Kalinak (Author)


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James Stewart once said, "For John Ford, there was no need for dialogue. The music said it all." This lively, accessible study is the first comprehensive analysis of Ford's use of music in his iconic westerns. Encompassing a variety of critical approaches and incorporating original archival research, Kathryn Kalinak explores the director's oft-noted predilection for American folk song, hymnody, and period music. What she finds is that Ford used music as more than a stylistic gesture. In fascinating discussions of Ford's westerns—from silent-era features such as Straight Shooting and The Iron Horse to classics of the sound era such as My Darling Clementine and The Searchers —Kalinak describes how the director exploited music, and especially song, in defining the geographical and ideological space of the American West.

1. How the West Was Sung: Music in the Life and Films of John Ford
2. Hearing the Music in John Ford’s Silents: The Iron Horse and 3 Bad Men
3. “Based on American Folk Songs”: Scoring the West in Stagecoach
4. Two Fordian Film Scores: My Darling Clementine and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
5. “Western as Hell”: 3 Godfathers and Wagon Master
6. “The Girl I Left Behind Me”: Men, Women, and Ireland in the Cavalry Trilogy
7. “What Makes a Man to Wander”: The Searchers
8. In the Shadow of The Searchers: Two Rode Together and Sergeant Rutledge
9. Cheyenne Autumn: A Conclusion

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Kathryn Kalinak is Professor of English and Film Studies at Rhode Island College and author of Settling the Score: Music and the Classical Hollywood Film.
“Offers a model for serious work in an arena still in its intellectual adolescence. . . . Kalinak artfully weaves the history and pedigree of nearly every tune incorporated into Ford’s Westerns (and some tunes that were considered but not included) with their social and cultural meanings both for Ford and his audiences.”—Notes
“Thoroughly researched and well-written. . . . Illuminating. . . . A work that will interest not only specialists in film and popular music but also those readers concerned with any aspect of twentieth-century American popular culture.”—American Studies Journal
“Fascinating.”—Susan Wladaver-Morgan Western Historical Quarterly
"How the West Was Sung is beautifully written, judiciously argued, and thoroughly researched. Even if you have a tin ear, Kathryn Kalinak will have you hearing Ford's Westerns in an entirely new way. This brilliant book represents a complete rethinking of films we thought we already knew."—Krin Gabbard, author of Black Magic: White Hollywood and African American Culture

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