Acid Westerns

The Recliner Notes posts about “Isis” and “Romance in Durango” allowed me the opportunity to build off of the idea of the film genre Acid Western as a musical genre. There are hundreds of songs which fit into the concept. Below is a Spotify playlist of Acid Western songs. Eventually, songs on this list could be full essays on Recliner Notes. 

Film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum wrote a book in 2000 called Dead Man, which was published by BFI Film Classics. It expounds on his initial review of the movie Dead Man in which he set the parameters for the Acid Western in film. The book includes interviews with the film’s director Jim Jarmusch as well as explorations of topics such as the depiction of Native Americans in the film and more. On the Acid Western, Rosenbaum notes:

“Part of the satisfaction to be found in the Western genre is the recurrence of a recognisable and elaborately furnished universe. Dead Man alludes to that universe at every turn without ever completely conforming to it; a revisionist impulse insists on rethinking virtually all the basic props and images associated with the form, much (if not all) of which comprises a kind of ongoing historical critique.”

Similarly, some of the songs that I have identified as Acid Westerns conform to the Western Similarly, some of the songs that I have identified as Acid Westerns conform to the Western genre while still commenting on it. Others embrace the idea of a subversive Western, completely revising and undercutting the classic form. Sometimes, there may be anachronistic characteristics showing musical time travel at work. In the playlist below, you will hear a number of similar traits such as a minor key or a surf guitar sound, suitable for both the beach and the desert. Most of the songs have an Ennio Morricone spaghetti western feel; some are actual Ennio Morricone songs. Sometimes the song is an instrumental; sometimes it tells a very specific story fitting the themes of the Acid Western.

Lastly, there are a few songs that I have identified as Acid Westerns, but are not available on Spotify, including:

Image: America’s Sahara, the Painted Desert — an ocean of drifting sand — Arizona, U. S. A. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.

10 thoughts on “Acid Westerns

  1. That is a nice idea, Scott. Enriching. And if I may be so bold as to suggest an addition: at first glance I’d say that “Man In The Long Black Coat” deserves a spot too.
    And maybe, just to spice up the list with some corniness, “Rocky Raccoon”. Or The Hollies’ “The Day That Curly Billy Shot Down Crazy Sam McGee”, perhaps.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very perceptive on noticing that “Man in the Long Black Coat” is not included! I had it originally pegged as an Acid Western as well, but it’s on the docket for a future Recliner Notes post and I have other ideas for it. I won’t share any further details for now, but it will connect back in a (hopefully) fun way.


  2. Another song that might have influenced Isis is Buffalo Skinners (also called Hills of Mexico) sung on the Basement Tapes and earlier. John Huston’s film ‘The Treasure of the Sierra Madre’ also has a similar story arc to Isis. In the film, a small group of men, down on their luck, head for the mountains to search for gold and then fall out once the gold is found.

    Liked by 1 person

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