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Michael Jackson, Elvis and Singing Cowboys are all American Icons


The Michael Jackson memorial is on TV today, I am sitting here watching and thinking about the difference between a person's public image and what it means to be an icon. Michael was an icon in life and is even a bigger icon now in death. Gone are the questions of his personal legal problems, gone are his money problems, his music now dominates the sales charts after a 4 year slump. Now he is iconic legend. Berry Gordy of Motown Records called him "the greatest entertainer who ever lived".


Sunday I went to a park in La Canada, California. Just 20 minutes from the Staples Center, where Michael Jackson's funeral took place on Tuesday. Steve Roth, an Elvis impersonator rocked the park, with LOVE ME TENDER, and many other Elvis hits from the late 50's and 60's. Steve covered the years throughout Elvis's life, and each song was attributed to the time and or film connected to it.  The  all ages crowd enjoyed a beautiful day concluding the 4th of July weekend. Children were playing, and doggies were strolling while the parents contentedly drank wine and beer and remembered where they were when they first heard these songs. Elvis reached iconic status during his life and that has endured.


I couldn't help but imagine how this scene will be replayed in years to come with Michael Jackson impersonators soon to rival Elvis clones. How long until we have Michael Jackson wedding chapels in Vegas? Everywhere we look these days there are stories about Michael. Nature abhors a vacuum but all Michael all the time is a bit much. I am sure it was always like this with mourning for a lost hero but with the advances in media it becomes overwhelming. The essence of a gentle or noble soul is soon overcome by the constant chorus of repetition. But after time passes what we will be left with are the print and video images, the music and the memories that always touched our hearts. He should be remembered for organizing WE ARE THE WORLD, and his great contributions to charities around the world as well as his musical talent.


This area is surrounded by mountains that tower 4-5000 feet, and is part of the Sierre Madre range and close by is the Angeles Crest. We are only twenty minutes from the Burbank studios, home to Disney, Warner Bros. and nearby Universal. At one time these studios were all ranches. Today out here there are still ranches with riding trails and horses peacefully munching grass on hillside pastures. There is fishing and the exquisite Descanso Gardens surrounded by homes which often are used for movie sets which pass for the English countryside.  


Today there were also Cowboys and they were singing. It was the sixth annual benefit for the Center for Spiritual Living, in neighboring La Crescenta. The event know as Cowboy Church was created to celebrate Independence Day and honor all who have given their lives for the cause of freedom. Cody Bryant and the Riders of the Purple Sage performed many songs including "Nobody Kisses Their Horses Anymore," a tribute to Gene Autry, Dale Evans and Roy Rogers, and all the other old cowboy of the movies. Roy Rogers the singing cowboy was an iconic figure of his time with his movies and songs generating a billion dollars in sales mostly in the twenty years from the 1940s through the late 1950s. A trilogy of new movies on Roy Rodgers has been announced. The Riders of the Purple Sage band was founded during that period and this is the latest incarnation that has been playing since that time. 


Here's a sample of their music.





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About MarlaLewinGFV

Lewin Marla
(Global Film Village)

Marla is a producer, playwright, screenwriter, publicist and now a journalist. She attends 12 to 20 film festivals per year. She has spoken on filmmaking at many festivals including Cannes and SXSW.


Los Angeles

United States

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