Heroes, Outlaws and a Little Music to Read By

Updated on September 16, 2019
k@ri profile image

Give Kari a western and she has either seen it or is looking forward to it. Westerns are all about heroes and villains, hard men & women

America's Heroes

America loves the underdog. We love everyone that stands up against injustice and does what they think is right. We love it more when the little guy stands against the injustices of big business or the government. The bigger the opponent, the harder the possible fall, the more America loves the one who made the stand.

Remember "The MIghty Ducks", "Glory Road" and "Happy Gilmore"? These movies all had one thing in common. Losers set their resolve and decided to be all they could be. Through heart-ache, hard work and perseverance they achieved their goals. Against all odds they won! The list of these sports movies goes on and on...Rocky, Major League, Invincible...too many to list.

Harry Potter striving to overcome Lord Voldemort and revenge his parents; Erin Brockovich the unemployed single mom who takes down a multi-national company; or Josey Wales who takes on a portion of the Union Army after they kill his family.

Outlaw Man-Eagles

Why Do We Love The Underdog?

Why do we equate virtue and honor to the little guy, while the big are the bad?  You never see a movie about the wonderful giant business striving to take down that little annoying person.  And you never will because we relate to the little guy.  We are the little guy.  It's all about equity of power.  We all have something in our lives that we feel powerless against.  And we all want affirmation that we can beat it...we can win...we can overcome!

In every stage of our lives something bigger is pushing us around and making us do things we don't want to.  Parents, school, bosses and government are all powerful entities that are difficult, if not impossible, to go against.  We want to know that we can overcome these, if and when overcoming becomes necessary.

Outlaws or Heroes?

Most outlaws who became symbols of freedom to America lived in the late 1800's. Billy the Kid, Jesse James, Bill Doolin and Bill Dalton were all from this period of time. The west was still wild, many states we have today were Indian land, while others were territories, not real states.

The late 1800's was a time of great financial difficulty in the United States. The years after the Civil War are known as "The Great Deflation". Money was hard to come by. Jobs were even harder. Families were having a hard time. Life was much as it is today. We cannot know if these times will bring the heroes of the next century. As we live through another deflation we can look to these people and try to decide what went wrong or right.  Try to decide if they were heroes or psychos.

Doolin-Daltin--The Eagles

Doolin Dalton Gang

Bill Doolin and Bill Dalton both started life as normal, law-abiding, family loving boys. How is it that these good boys became notorious as outlaws in the late 1890's. Both seem to be "good guys" growing up, until they left society. Bill Doolin was the main go-to person for another's ranch. He must have been a good worker and a reliable soul. Bill Dalton came from a family of US Marshalls.

The beginnings of these men are lost in history, but here is what I know:

Bill Doolin

It is known that Bill Doolin shot up a couple of deputies because they started emptying his beer keg onto the ground. Sure, Kansas was a dry state at the time, but these boys had paid good money for that beer. Life was different then, and you did not take what was not yours. At least, you didn't take it without repercussions. The repercussions for the deputies were getting shot. Bill Doolin ended up an outlaw. It seems his start as an outlaw began over freedom...freedom to drink and have a good time.

Bill Dalton

Bill Dalton is harder to figure out. His brothers were US Marshalls. The oldest, Frank, was said to keep the others in line. However, Frank was killed in the line of duty. Some accounts say that he knew too much and it was not an accident. His knowledge was of the gambling kind. Was he an early mark of a later mob? We will never really know the truth.

Glorified or The Other Side of the Story?

My real question is, how did these people come to be glorified by America? What is it that we do not know. Or, if they were really serial killers and psyco's of another time, why do we glorify them? Which version of history is the real truth?

The Eagles dedicated an album to the Doolin-Dalton Gang. I feel this is their best album ever. When you listen to it in it's entirety you understand the ups and downs of being an outlaw. These people and their dreams were not far from our own.


Bon Jovi: Wanted, Dead or Alive

Wanted Dead or Alive

Emelio Estavez wanted the song, "Wanted Dead or Alive" for the movie Young Guns II. Bon Jovi, did not think it fit and wrote a different song. "Blaze of Glory" was the new song and it fit the movie to a tee! Bon Jovi did not think a song singing "on a steel horse I ride" was appropriate for the movie. His new song, however, seems extremely appropriate!

When I was young my nickname was "The Kid". Part of that is I was younger than many I hung out with. Part was the rebel in me, and my refusing to buckle down and under. I still hold onto the belief that not all authority is right, and not all is truthful.

Bon Jovi--Blaze of Glory

Dead or Alive would have been a great song for this movie. However, Blaze of Glory was even better! These men, these outlaws, lived a blaze of glory.

"You ask about my consience
And I offer you my soul
You ask if I'll grow to be a wise man
Well I ask if I'll grow old"

They knew there was no hope for their way of life, but lived it anyway. How many of us have the strength to do the same? How many would actually follow their friends to their death? In this day and age, how many feel powerless to fight back? Many of us would like to, but feel constrained by our current lives. This is why we love the outlaw. The outlaw fought back.

Billy the Kid is an enigma. Was he good, was he bad? We will never know. He started his war because his friend was killed. In my book, that made him good. He may have continued this war for longer than necessary. Did that make him bad?

I love the Young Gun movies! They are full of doing the wrong thing for all the right reasons. Back in their day, there was no other conceivable outcomes. It was pretty much kill or be killed. Doesn't leave you a whole lot of choice if you like life.

"Lord, I got to ask a favor
And I'll hope you'll understand
cause I've lived life to the fullest
Let the boy die like a man"

Bad Company

Bad Company is not about any certain outlaw, but more about the outlaw in each of us. We can all be "bad company" at times in our life. Some are "bad company" until the day we die.

Bad Company-Bad Company

America loves to glorify the life of the gunslinger. Their way of life holds a romanticism of freedom. Freedom from the confinement of everyday life and responsibilities. The freedom to go where you want when you want. I don't think we give thought to all the evil perpetuated by these outlaws, the evil gets glossed over.

We each want to be the outlaw. Just give up on the everyday routine and begin living your life your way. We all want to have some power over our existence. And, I think, deep-down, we all want to just say, "Yes, I'm bad company, till the day I die".

"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

The man who stood his ground, the man who fought for his ideals. John Wayne is how we think of the outlaws and gunslingers of the wild west. The men who were pushed beyond endurance and decided to fight back. The ones who refused to lay down and die. These are our outlaws.

The midnight rider, the wanted man, the one who did what needed to be done and now is searched for. The good man who was denounced unjustly by the authorities. The same authorities that enabled the circumstances that were the cause of this good man's downfall.

We all want to make a stand. Make that line that cannot be crossed. Stand true to our values. We want something glorious for our lives. Some wonder, some excitement and some magic. Just some magic for our lives.

Midnight Rider-The Allman Brothers Band and Sheryl Crow

Men like the outlaw Josey Wales who watched the Union army murder his family and burn his home. Left for dead by the army, Josey lived. This peaceful, law-abiding man, pushed too far, became an outlaw hunting the Union Army. The Union Army retaliates by hunting Josey.

We empathize with Josey as he proves his goodness time and again. We sympathize with him even when he shows his enemies no mercy. We cheer his ruthlessness. We connect with his sense of fairness and his integrity. And we want him to live happily ever after.

We want the outlaw to escape, we want him to get over the border and live out his life in ease and peace. Who didn't feel a sense of loss when the Bolivian army shot Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. We want them to escape. It feeds our dream.


Bonnie and Clyde lived during the next period of significant deflation in the United States, the Great Depression.  They both came from poor families who were forced to move to Dallas, Texas due to financial difficulties.  Clyde started out with petty crimes, probably in an attempt to help his family financially.  He soon graduated to felonies.

Bonnie met Clyde while she was taking care of a mutual friend.  It was love at first sight, and the rest is history.  It is said that Bonnie only stayed due to her love of Clyde.  History also records that these two knew their path was death and decided to make the most of life in the meantime.

The Steve Miller Band--Take the Money and Run (This song always reminded me of Bonnie and Clyde)

New Outlaw Heroes?

As America enters another period of significant deflation, I am left to wonder who the next "heroes" will be. The Robin Hood Principle states that in times of social unrest, when large groups of people feel oppressed by small groups, certain criminals will become more than criminals. They will be romanticized as defenders of justice. The times seems ripe for some new heroes.

Right now it seems to me many of our heroes are black men and boys, like Michael Brown, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner, who have been killed by police officers. These heroes were harassed just because of the color of their skin. Brave young lights, brought down in a blaze of glory. Because they crossed the street.

New heroes (08/20/2019): A group of four freshmen representatives that Trump has told to "go home". These are four of my heroes; Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts. Their alias is "The Squad".

I wonder who will be next?

I Have Figured Out Who the Next Heroes Will Be.

I have figured out that the new outlaw heroes will be hackers. For example, someone who hacks the student loan administration and erases millions of student loans. This update is from 9/16/19.

© 2009 Kari Poulsen


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    • k@ri profile imageAUTHOR

      Kari Poulsen 

      10 years ago from Ohio

      Eric, I'm glad you enjoyed it. Who, do you think, will be our next "Robin Hood"?

    • Eric Calderwood profile image

      Eric Calderwood 

      10 years ago from USA

      I enjoyed the hub, and the music that was provided with it. Thank you.

    • k@ri profile imageAUTHOR

      Kari Poulsen 

      10 years ago from Ohio

      Michael, Thanks, coming from someone with so many good music hubs, this really means a lot to me! :D

    • Michael Shane profile image

      Michael Shane 

      10 years ago from Gadsden, Alabama

      Awesome Hub! Great pictures & music mentioned that went great with the hub!

    • k@ri profile imageAUTHOR

      Kari Poulsen 

      10 years ago from Ohio

      hoagy, Ooops, my bad! Thanks for the correction. :D

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      It was the Bolivian army, not the Mexican, that killed Butch & Sundance.

    • k@ri profile imageAUTHOR

      Kari Poulsen 

      11 years ago from Ohio

      LOL, Cris, You know what I like! I almost included this song...but decided it was more about love than outlaws. I'm glad you liked this one! :D

    • Cris A profile image

      Cris A 

      11 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      Interesting read, I thoroughly enjoyed the anecdotes and the trivia you included - and of course the songs! Great hub!

      Btw, another take on Jesse James (not really but...) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cU-ZrXaJxgw

    • k@ri profile imageAUTHOR

      Kari Poulsen 

      11 years ago from Ohio

      badcompany, with your name, I could never think different! You are one of the ones who becomes heroes in another world...Thank you! :D

    • k@ri profile imageAUTHOR

      Kari Poulsen 

      11 years ago from Ohio

      Thanks Tom! I've always been fascinated by the fact that these people should be accounted as psychos, but are remembered as heroes.

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image

      Tom rubenoff 

      11 years ago from United States

      Nice work. Many perceptive observations. Thank you!

    • k@ri profile imageAUTHOR

      Kari Poulsen 

      11 years ago from Ohio

      ralwus, twas great childhood fun...and I never cared who I was cowboy or indian! Both were much fun for different reason. I still love playing with cap guns! :D

      Triplet Mom, I'm glad you realized it! I have always love outlaws...not the psychos, just the outlaws!

    • Triplet Mom profile image

      Triplet Mom 

      11 years ago from West Coast

      K@ri - I didn't realize until just now how much I love outlaws. I love most of these songs and bad boys are always intriquing.

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Cowboys and indians, 'twas great childhood fun. If only I still had my guns.

    • k@ri profile imageAUTHOR

      Kari Poulsen 

      11 years ago from Ohio

      wesley, I love the Dark Tower series...the Gunslinger is such an intriguing character. I agree about Doc Holliday in Tombstone also. One of my favorite lines in a movie is said by him..."I'm you huckleberry." I love that scene!

      ralwus, Thanks! I agree, I much preferred (and still do) Jesse James over Roy Rogers!

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      I grew up with cowboys, both the good and the bad. Like many others I preferred Jesse James over Roy Rogers or Matt Dillon. Nice hub k@ri and the music is very fitting.

    • wesleycox profile image


      11 years ago from Back in Texas, at least until August 2012

      Mesmerizing, I think that may be why the Dark Tower series were and are so popular. I love a triumphant story for this very reason. I also idolized Doc Holliday in Tombstone.

    • k@ri profile imageAUTHOR

      Kari Poulsen 

      11 years ago from Ohio

      Thanks dohn, And it does seem like no-one really wants to come out and call it a depression or even deflation. I'm not qualified to make that call, but I agree that when you look around and listen to people they are nervous. And the ones who know money are being very careful.

      Jaspal, I love a good western, both in movie and in book form. And they all have that common factor...someone had to stand up and take action.

      shamel, It does seem that some of these outlaws may have been the "good guys". History is strange and changes over the years, depending on who is telling it.

      Thanks ethel, I had fun making this one. :D

    • ethel smith profile image

      Ethel Smith 

      11 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      That's a great hub. The clips are so fitting.

    • shamelabboush profile image


      11 years ago

      I think we like those outlaws bcz as you said: those are men "who were pushed beyond endurance". They are mostly of good origins, good families and good intentions, but life, being unfair to some, pushed them to retaliate and fight back... Great documentary hub. Like it.

    • Jaspal profile image


      11 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Great hub ... I grew up on a diet of books on the wild West ... and your hub gets me thinking of the reasons for the fascination with books and movies of that period. There is a bit of a rebel in each of us, and we hold in high esteem anyone who is prepared to stand and fight for what is right.

    • dohn121 profile image


      11 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      Great job, cowgirl (Pardon the slang). I enjoyed every word. You did an amazing and inspiring job on this hub and I know you're proud of it! I know you just smiled.

      About the Robin Hood thing? I'm with you. There's a lot of unhappy, disgruntled individuals amidst and you don't have very far to go to see it. Just look at the faces of the general public wherever you go and observe. We are in a Depression whether people want to admit or not and things will get worse before they get better, sorry to say.


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