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Vince Vaughn Is Country

While discussing his newest, 'Couple's Retreat' Vince talks music

Note: I'll cover more about "Couple's Retreat" but I wanted to single out one part of a fantastic interview with Vince Vaughn during which he discussed music. It's a pip, as the saying goes.

Vince Vaughn loves Buck Owens. He likes Gram Parsons and the Burrito Brothers. He reveres the work of Robert Plant with Alison Krauss. He has stories about George Jones and Merle Haggard – current stories. He's hung with Willie Nelson. And he took the time to talk about all of this rather than simply discuss his newest movie, Couple's Retreat.

I've been a Vince Vaughn booster since his beginnings, and even defend him in Psycho, so I was more than happy to learn that this tall glass of water isn't just one of the most talented and funniest actors working, he also has incredibly good taste in music -- and not just good taste but an impressive and extensive knowledge of music. And he thinks about it, he makes historical connections, he’s moved by it.

Here was our exchange while he was promoting his movie to a press round table, all started from a reporter’s question about a scene involving an uptight British guy playing Guitar Heroand what they were listening to while filming. I love that he waxed so rhapsodic about such great music -- some of my favorite music. It makes one feel better about the world. Vince, acting naturally:

Vaughn: A lot of the English guys really like country music or old blues music, like The Stones always liked Buck Owens and they liked all the old blues singers. I always thought when English bands sang, you'd hear them talk and they sound very English and then they'd sing about honky-tonk. I always thought that there was a fascination on their end with cowboys and that. So I thought it was a funny backdrop, that it'd be unexpected to put him there. Then just with the dialogue we'd own that motif and Joseph Campbell's, like, "The Writer's Journey" or any sort of mythology type of quest. So this movie actually has two different structures.

Just for us, on the day on the set we just started having fun, saying, "Let’s really embrace this and make it really western like a gunfight because it's just ridiculous because it's 'Guitar Hero'. Lets really make it mythological –' like this is an unbelievable honesty that we're about go for'."

Morgan: I don't think I've heard anyone go from Buck Owens to Joseph Campbell.

Vaughn: Buck was one of my favorites... I think that a lot of people's musical history, like she mentioned, starts with Led Zeppelin and The Stones. To me, the thing that I liked about the tour that Robert Plant did with Alison Krauss was that he really went out of his way to talk about American roots music. They were trying to sound like the old Appalachian singers and a lot of the blues singers and that's really who their idols were. What was wonderful about that show is that they played a lot of those Led Zeppelin songs Appalachian style. It was really, really beautiful. I can't listen to a lot of the modern stuff because I've been so exposed to and so in love with a lot of the older storytellers and I've always said that I think that music is the highest art form.

Music can take you the farthest and the fastest emotionally. There's sculpture, there's painting, there's acting, all these wonderful things -- but sound and song. You can be driving your car and that song comes on and you're like in tears depending on what it is. I think there's something that's happen in music, probably in all things, where when Buck or Johnny Cash, these guys, [when they] were coming up there weren't albums. Like, "Hey, I have to make a record. I'm gonna do this stuff." They [all] really had some difficult life experiences. They were telling the stories of their lives through music.

[And] there was no end game necessarily. And then of course, with Elvis and people started buying phonographs in order to listen to those records and it became a whole different thing. And now again, music is back to the '50's where it's singles. There's no longer albums. You buy one song, which is like what the '50's used to be...But like the murals in Belfast, in those neighborhoods, they would paint about the conflicts that they've gone through, both the Protestants and the Catholics. That was political. That came out of, like, "People were shooting my family and I want people to know that this isn't right." [Much like] a lot of those slave songs or plantation songs. [And] lBuck was from Texas – He ended up in Bakersfield but he came from Texas. Sherman, Texas is where he's from. Like "The Grapes of Wrath," they migrated for work and he ended up in Bakersfield.

Morgan: And created their sound.

Vaughn: Him and Merle Haggard. Merle Haggard is the only person in The Country Music Hall of Fame who was born and raised in California which is Bakersfield.

Morgan: He's still alive, too.

Vaughn: He is still alive. I heard a rumor that George Jones asked him to move next door to him and I think that would be interesting [Yes that would be interesting]. I loved George. He was great. But their songs came out of their life experiences and so there was such depth to them that it was unbelievable... I won't name some of the people that you have mentioned in those bands and all they want to talk about is Merle and Buck and a lot of the Chicago blues artists which was that early Chess Record stuff.

I think Chuck Berry punched Keith Richards the first time he met him, like, 'That's for stealing my licks –' or something like that…But when you hear that stuff and a lot of people just really haven't heard a lot of the old stuff, when you hear the other stuff I kind of go, 'God, it kind of sounds like this.' But what I think always made the English bands better than a lot of the American bands was that they really started with where the music began. That's who they were trying to sound like. So when you start to look at [classic rock] bands, a lot of the times the band that they'll mention are more the English bands because they were really trying to sound like the Bakersfield sound.

Morgan: Gram Parsons...

Vaughn: Gram Parsons and the Burrito Brothers.

Morgan: Have you thought of doing a music biopic? You know a lot about it.

Vaughn: I would play the guy in the front row who goes like this [starts clapping]... [He ends the interview with this] I'll tell you, Willie Nelson said this to me. He said, "What is the world's shortest fairy tale?" I said, "What?" He said, "A man asks him his sweetheart to marry him. She says no and they live happily ever after." [Vince laughs happily. This makes me happy. And we didn't even get to his take on Waylon Jennings].

There was so much more I wanted to ask him about music. I didn't query, but Vince has to own a Nudie suit. If he does, he should wear it proudly.

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