There was at time when I believed that "Urban Cowboy" was the epitome of what a film ought to be. I wrote in a journal, after watching John Travolta as "Bud" and Debra Winger as "Sissy" live out their dreams of the New West: "Someday I want to write something as honest as this." I was referring to the movie I had just finished watching on HBO. The movie I had just finished watching on HBO as I consumed six or eight beers. I was feeling it. Deeply.
The beers helped. They helped obscure my memory of "Saturday Night Fever," and how Bud and Tony Manero
were pretty much the same guy. Okay, one was set in Houston, the other
was set in New York. One of these guys was going to use his talents on
the dance floor, the other was going to ride a mechanical bull to win
the heart of his lady love. One was a Bee-Gees-infused disco extravaganza, the other was a country-western lollapalooza. It should be noted that only the Urban Cowboy soundtrack had the distinction of receiving the "Chipmunk Treatment." Was that the only difference?
Well, in my mind, I had all but forgotten Tony Manero. It could have been that I was drinking Lone Star beer as I sat in my apartment, tearing up at that honesty. It was probably a contributing factor that I was alone. And drunk. It was probably the beer. It wasn't that "Urban Cowboy" was such a fantastic piece of work. Like its cousin, "Saturday Night Fever," Bud's story had sprung from a magazine article, "The Ballad of the Urban Cowboy: America’s Search for True Grit." Of course there was honesty in there somewhere. The script began its life as journalism.
It also didn't occur to me, sitting in my somewhat furnished living room that I was watching the next iteration of "Grease." Another hit soundtrack, only this time, Sissy was Sandy and Houston was Rydell High. All of my disdain for the star-making machinery that was making John Travolta a hit-making dancing machine fell away as I switched off the television and headed down the stairs to sleep off the effects of six or eight beers over a two hour period.
When I woke up the next day, I looked at my journal and felt my head throb just a little more like Gilley's nightclub. And I went back to my search for honesty.