Dean Martin: My Rifle, My Pony and Me (1959)

 |   |  1 min read

Dean Martin: My Rifle, My Pony and Me (1959)

As Nick Tosche revealed in his remarkable biography Dino: Living High in the Dirty Business of Dreams, Dean Martin didn't have to try hard at anything: he was good looking, could sing whatever was put in front of him, was a natural straight man and comedian, and he'd just turn up on a movie set and do his lines with charm, ease and utter indifference.

No, Dean didn't have to try -- so increasingly he didn't. He just began to sleepwalk through his life, eating at the same restaurant, shutting out the bad things like the split with his wife and the death of his son. He'd just detach himself that little bit more, play more golf, retreat that little bit further into a fug of pills and booze.

Dean just didn't care. He didn't care about his friend Sinatra and the gangsters who inhabited their world, about acting which he never considered real work, about the songs he was asked to sing. He'd walk in and record an album and walk out. Didn't care about if and when it came out, what they put on the cover or said in the liner notes.

dean1And that is why Dean Martin's extensive back-catalogue contains more disposable nonsense than even that of Elvis. The titles of Martin songs tell their own story: Mambo Italiano, Cha Cha Cha D'Amour, Tik-A-Tee Tik-A-Day, Not Enough Indians . . .

There were a lot of Christmas albums too. 

Of course when he got worthy material he sounded exceptional, that lazy and romantic style fitting perfectly with songs like You Belong To Me where you can almost imagine he's actually trying.

Then there is this song from the movie Rio Bravo where he starred alongside John Wayne, which might have been his silver screen high point. (We put his James Bond parody flicks as Matt Helm in a category of their own).

My Rifle, My Pony and Me is an unusual one. Although it is a song about comin' home to his sweetheart darlin' you get the sense from his phrasing and where he puts the emphasis that he's more at home alone in the canyon with his three good companions, his rifle and pony "and me".

At one level it is throwaway filler (like Elvis' Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce in Girl Happy) and yet it is also emblematic of Dino's loner persona, the man who not only needed very little but couldn't have cared less about the rest. Or even that.

For more one-off great or unusual songs see From the Vaults

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   From the Vaults articles index

Leonard Cohen: Because of (2004)

Leonard Cohen: Because of (2004)

The equation seems simple: Leonard Cohen the self-described "ladies man" + women + bed = But of course nothing is ever quite that straightforward with a Jewish Zen Buddhist... > Read more

The Beatles: Ooh! My Soul (1963)

The Beatles: Ooh! My Soul (1963)

In a week the second installment of Beatles' sessions for the BBC will be released. And we might say belatedly because the first double CD came out in 1994. The Beatles made 275 recordings of... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Liz Phair: Exile in Guyville (1993)

Liz Phair: Exile in Guyville (1993)

Tribute albums are far from uncommon these days. In fact when you see there are tributes to a band that never existed (The Rutles) and The Muppet Show you could argue this one has run its course.... > Read more

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . JAMES REESE EUROPE: Taking dance music to war

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . JAMES REESE EUROPE: Taking dance music to war

When the 39-year old conductor/composer James Reese Europe was stabbed by one of his drummers, Herbert Wright, and subsequently died, it cut short an already remarkable career and one which seemed... > Read more