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The Ballad of Earl Durand

Charlie Brown
Language: English

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[1966]
Parole di Jack Langan, cantautore del Wyoming
Musica di Charles Edward Artman (1939-1991), detto Charlie Brown
Testo trovato su Broadside e verificato su Mudcat Café
Nel disco intitolato “Teton Tea Party with Charlie Brown”, Broadside Records, 1967
Poi nella raccolta “The Best of Broadside 1962-1988: Anthems of the American Underground from the Pages of Broadside Magazine” realizzata dalla Smithsonian Folkways Recordings nel 2000.

Teton Tea Party with Charlie Brown
The Best of Broadside 1962-1988

Chi anche solo bazzica su queste pagine sa quanto mi piacciono le storie di fuorilegge, reietti e banditi, anche se normalmente vanno sempre a finire male per i loro protagonisti (“I fought the law, and law won”, cantava Bobby Fuller, pure lui morto - ammazzato? - in circostanze misteriose)...

Questa che vi vado a raccontare è ambientata nello spettacolare paesaggio del Teton Range, una catena montuosa delle Montagne Rocciose che si distende tra Wyoming e Idaho.



Era il 1939 e la miseria causata dalla Grande Depressione iniziata nel 1929 si toccava ancora con mano nelle aree montane del Wyoming.
Walter Earl Durand abitava nei dintorni di Powell, una cittadina a 1.400 metri nell’estremo nord dello Stato, dove fa molto freddo d’inverno e molto caldo d’estate. Earl aveva 26 anni ed era un “mountain man”, che non è traducibile proprio con il nostro “montanaro”: Earl era infatti un cacciatore ed un esploratore, uno che viveva isolato dal mondo degli uomini e sopravviveva con quello che la natura del luogo generosamente gli offriva, un po’ come il Johnny Half-Breed protagonista di una canzone di Peter LaFarge.
Nei secoli precedenti coloro che avevano colonizzato l’America avevano sterminato indiscriminatamente nativi e animali e foreste e al trapper Earl Durand non sembrò vero che qualcuno, seppur il governo, di punto in bianco pretendesse da lui di pagare per ottenere una licenza di caccia. Già, i tempi erano cambiati, non erano più quello dell’Ovest Selvaggio, anche se indiani e bisonti erano quasi estinti...



Così quando Earl uccise il suo alce, senza licenza, arrivò lo sceriffo, lo arrestò e le schiaffò in galera. Lui, che non ci poteva credere, s’incazzò come un crotalo, sottrasse la pistola al tutore della legge, lo costrinse a liberarlo e se ne tornò a casa, sulle sue amate montagne. E sarebbe finita lì, se non fosse stato che due vice-sceriffi se ne arrivarono qualche giorno dopo per riportare Earl al fresco... Lui s’incazzò di nuovo, questa volta come un coyote, e li spedì all’inferno. A questo punto sapeva bene di essere in guai grossi e che la guerra era dichiarata e doveva essere combattuta fino alla fine. Ed Earl chiese alla natura che ben conosceva di accoglierlo e proteggerlo nella sua fuga.



Il giudice ordinò di costituire una posse di una decina di uomini esperti, ma aveva sottovalutato Earl il quale, incazzato come un grizzly, accoppò un altro paio di rangers che gli davano la caccia... A questo punto intervennero, nell’ordine: l’FBI, i tiratori scelti, la Guardia Nazionale, un reparto di artiglieria da Fort Warren, cacciatori di taglie e persino un aereo attrezzato con bombe lacrimogene e dinamite...



Per molti giorni Earl Durand - che si era meritato il soprannome di “Tarzan of Tetons” - eluse i suoi inseguitori e, mentre loro lo cercavano sulle montagne, lui scese a Powell e tentò una rapina in banca. Ma la città, la civiltà, non erano il suo elemento, non aveva speranze lì: circondato, Earl si difese come un puma e poi, ferito, si sparò un colpo per non cadere vivo nelle mani dei suoi carnefici.



Solo tre mesi dopo usciva nelle sale americane un western B-movie con John Wayne intitolato “Wyoming Outlaw”, molto liberamente ispirato alla vicenda di Earl Durand.

He would go out in the mountains in depression days so sad.
With a bow and arrow straight he'd put meat upon the grate
Of the fireplace in the cabin where he learned to love, not hate.

Earl Durand, Earl Durand,
Born too late a mountain man;
He was shot down in the Tetons
By the law's bloodthirsty band.

Boundin' lightly crag to crag, Earl Durand would hunt the stag;
Elk and moose meat, too, he brought just to fill his hungry bag.
Skinned 'em out and used the hides to keep warm his young insides
With the buckskin clothes he wore on his lonely mountain rides.

Earl Durand, Earl Durand,
Born too late a mountain man;
He was shot down in the Tetons
By the law's bloodthirsty band.

One day with meat so raw, Earl was captured by the law,
Hauled away to Cody Jail, bedded down on a cot of straw.
Then he fled into the hills, leavin' behind the city's ills
When the lawmen came to get him, Earl, those greedy hunters, drills.

Earl Durand, Earl Durand,
Born too late a mountain man;
He was shot down in the Tetons
By the law's bloodthirsty band.

[Spoken]
'Bout six-foot-two, 250 pounds, he was a crack shot. Throw a marble into the air, and he'd shatter it into a million fragments every time. He went to high school for a while, but he didn't dig that scene very much. And so he took off into the mountain wilderness there, the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming. Started livin' off the land; makin' his own clothes out of buckskin. Let his hair grow out, let his beard grow. Well, the folks back in town, they didn't dig his scene very much either, so one day they hauled him in for huntin' elk out of season, found him guilty, sentenced him to six months in jail.
Well, from where he was at, [through] his cell window, he could see the Wind River Mountains, the mountains that he loved. But then one day the DA come in, started talkin' to him about some rich rancher's cattle that had been shot, about pinnin' the whole thing on him. So Earl says to the DA, he says, "Well, if I'm found guilty of that, what's it gonna mean?" So the DA says to him, "Well, you'll have to spend two years in the state penitentiary at Rawlins."
Now two years is an awful long time, and from the Rawlins jail cell window he wouldn't be able to see those mountains that he loved. So one day when the guard come in with his breakfast, he conked him over the head with a milk bottle. When he come to, he told him to drive him out to his folks' place. He sent him back to town with a message then that he didn't want to kill nobody, he just wanted to live as free as he wanted to live, but that if they'd come after him, he'd shoot to kill. So, the sheriff and his deputy they come out after him; he shot 'em both and he took off into the hills.

In the wilderness he lay, changin' lair from day to day.
Come to town to get some shells, see his folks, then get away.

Earl Durand, Earl Durand,
Born too late a mountain man;
He was shot down in the Tetons
By the law's bloodthirsty band.

When Park County got too hot, Earl decided to change his spot,
Rambled down through Yellowstone, to the Tetons, at a trot.
Then the sheriff swore so hard, he called out the National Guard,
And with howitzers and mortars, they played down their last hole card.

Earl Durand, Earl Durand,
Born too late a mountain man;
He was shot down in the Tetons
By the law's bloodthirsty band.

[Spoken]
That's right, ladies and gentlemen, howitzers and mortars after one lone man sittin' up there on a ridge. And the National Guard, too. They sent two men up after him, hollered up, "Earl, you know we've got you, so why don't you give yourself up?"
Well, from about a thousand yards, he picked them both off with two shots. Come nightfall, he'd slip through their lines and go out and get himself some food, and then before dawn he'd slip through their lines again, get up on the ridge, and play their games with them. And pretty soon he was out of ammunition, so he cut off his beard and cut off his hair with a knife that he had up there. He come down to the line then, and he says to the man there, "Say, have they got that Earl Durand fellow yet?" The guy says, "Nope." So Earl Durand says, "Well I'm about out of ammunition." And the other guy says, "Well, I'm about out too." So Earl says to him, "Well, how about drivin' us both to town so we can get some more ammunition?" So the guy drove 'em both to town. Earl, he went into the bank where he had some money. The townsfolk heard he was in there, and they gathered outside. Earl, he come out with a bank teller in front of him at gunpoint. Some trigger-happy sixteen-year-old kid shot him from the crowd, and, by reflex action, he shot and killed the teller. And then he turned the gun on his own self and he shot himself. Someone later asked the kid how he felt about killin' that notorious outlaw fellow, Earl Durand. And the kid said, "Sick."

But Earl was free as air, and down from his mountain lair,
He'd slip through their lines at night, and at dawn he'd not be there.
'Till at last with food all gone, and his stomach pinched and drawn,
He faced them in the twilight, and their bullets cut him down.

Earl Durand, Earl Durand,
Born too late a mountain man;
He was shot down in the Tetons
By the law's bloodthirsty band.

Earl just wanted to live free, just the same as you and me,
But the game laws said, "Oh no!" So this free soul had to go.
And his flight was called a crime, although in an earlier time
He'd have been a mountain man instead of shot down in his prime.

Earl Durand, Earl Durand,
Born too late a mountain man.
Called the Tarzan of the Tetons,
Killed by civilization's hand.

Contributed by Bernart Bartleby - 2015/8/12 - 23:58


Cinegiornale sulla caccia ad Earl Durand

Bernart Bartleby - 2015/8/13 - 00:02



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